It’s that time of year again!! The Yaletown Business Improvement Association is putting on their 13th year of the fabulous Taste of Yaletown. If you don’t know what Taste of Yaletown is, it’s a special two week community-based event that invites the public to try a variety of dishes from 26 premiere restaurants throughout the neighbourhood. From Oct 11th- 27th, Vancouver’s top chefs will feature special 3-course meals themed around ‘pairings and sharings’. Restaurants will offer exclusive featured menus, innovative pairings, and special menus with set prices of $25, $35, and $45.
I had the chance to go to their TOY preview event, and our group went to Hapa Izakaya and The Keg, both of which are participating in this year’s Taste of Yaletown event.
Funny enough, I’ve never been to Hapa before (I know… I don’t know how that happened) so I was super excited to give them a try! It definitely is the perfect environment for drinking and socializing with friends.
The Hapa TOY menu is $25 and comes with three shareable items. Instead of doing regular appetizer, main, and dessert courses, they stuck with their tapas style sharing environment and made a menu designed to provide items that you can share with your dining companions.
The first course is a choice of: Beef Tataki, Ahi Tuna Yukke, and Agedashi Vegetables.
I found the beef tataki very delicious and perfectly balanced. It wasn’t overly salty which can be the case when they marinade it in soy for too long but this one had the perfect amount of seasoning.
For vegetarians, the Agedashi Vegetables would be great option. Simple, light, and refreshing.
I am a lover of raw yolk anytime, any day, so naturally I gravitated towards the Ahi Tuna Yukke. It was so yummy I wish I had some rice to eat the fish with.
The second course features: Chicken Nanban, Crispy Panko-Fried Scallops, and Foil Grilled Tofu & Mushrooms.
The foil grilled tofu and mushrooms were naturally light in taste with the umami flavours only coming from the vegan dashi with yuzu.
The biggest bang for your buck is probably the Chicken Nanban as it’s a whole fried chicken thigh, with daikon tartar sauce which was pretty interesting and a nice take on an Asian twist.
Personally for me, I really enjoyed the panko fried scallops. Everything about the dish was perfect. From the crispy panko, the paper thin lotus chips, to the jalapeno mango mayo, everything was on point. Highly recommend!
For the third course, the options include: Vegetable “Poke” Bowl, Aburi Saba Sushi, and Hambagu Steak. The last course was definitely the most ‘hefty’ in size.
This is Hapa’s take on a vegetarian “Poke” bowl. On top of the hot sushi rice, there was avocado, beets, butternut squash, inari tofu strips, and a sweet soy dressing. While it may look lackluster, it was surprisingly good! If you’re a vegetarian and you’re worried the TOY menu won’t fill you up, don’t be! This poke bowl is pretty substantial!
My favourite third course. The Aburi Saba Sushi (torched pressed mackerel sushi with sansho pepper).
This Hambagu Steak is also a show stopper. The Ground AAA Angus beef, minced diakon, ponzu, shiso, and garlic chips come together very nicely and its also a really really well executed dish. Most of the people at our table thought this was the best.
After Hapa, we ventured on to the ever popular “The Keg”.
This Keg location has got to be one of the prettier locations around. I hear during the summer months, they open up their gorgeous patio that overlooks the Yaletown scenery. I personally have never dined up there but I bet it’s amazing. This year, they are offering a $45 TOY menu.
For their starters, you have a choice of Keg Caesar, Baked Garlic Shrimp, or Wild Mushroom Soup.
No words needed. This one is just a classic.
I would highly recommend the Wild Mushroom Soup because it’s normally a lunch menu item and this is the first time I’ve ever seen them offer it during dinner time (so it’s a big deal). It’s also absolutely delicious so either way if you love mushrooms, you should definitely get it.
The Baked Garlic Shrimp is always a crowd pleaser and you can’t go wrong with this either. Major tip: dip the provided bread into the leftover cheese and herb oil that’s left in the little holes. Don’t waste all that goodness!
For entrees, you have a choice of Sirloin Oscar, Prime Rib, Peppercorn New York, and Pistachio Crusted Salmon.
Having tasted all four items (Pistachio Crusted Salmon not pictured here), I honestly can’t pick a favourite. They were all really delicious and filling with all of the generous sides (just look at that mash). One thing I was surprised at was how good the bearnaise sauce on the Sirloin Oscar was. I’ve always thought steak should be eaten with salt and pepper and that’s it, but this sauce has gotten me to bite my words a bit…
Of course, you need a separate photo just for the Keg’s famous Prime Rib, am I right? To date I still think The Keg makes the best prime rib out of all the steakhouses I’ve tried. What do you guys think? Do you agree?
For dessert, the options include: Billy Miner Pie, Cheesecake, and Spanish Coffee.
It was my first time trying Spanish Coffee and it was surprisingly good! It’s a nice pick me up after dinner and the brandy flavour wasn’t too strong which I appreciated.
Classic cheesecake with bing cherry topping.
Also, classic billy miner pie consisting of mocha ice-cream, chocolate crust, hot fudge, caramel, and sliced almonds.
All in all, both Hapa Izakaya and The Keg provided stellar menu options for this year’s Taste of Yaletown event. And Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, both will leave you with a satisfying meal and a discounted price tag.