Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hapa Sushi, CO

Sushi, and Japanese cuisine more generally, is one of those things that can be really easy to eat gluten-free... or not. It all depends on the restaurant. In theory, the execution of a gluten-free meal is easy - Japanese cuisine is grounded in rice, not bread, and tends to incorporate fresh fish, vegetables, and meats. Stick with rice noodles, and avoid the wheat-based soba and other noodles. Stay away from traditional soy and teriyaki sauces, and stick with tamari wheat-free soy sauce. And stay away from the tempura, which is typically battered in unfriendly flour (though not necessarily so).

It surprises me, though, how many times I've walked into a sushi restaurant, asked if they have tamari wheat-free soy sauce, and they respond with a puzzled look as if I'd just asked for an enchilada. Such a response always raises my "possible gluten contamination threat level" to orange or red. Thankfully, though, there are some sushi restaurants that are in the know about gluten-free dining, and happily, Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar is one of them.

Hapa has a handful of locations, all in Colorado. I've been dining there for years, since long before I was diagnosed and switched to a gluten-free diet. The restaurant serves high quality, fresh sushi, and the inspired menu offers up a phenomenal blend of Japanese and Hawaiian influences. Much to my delight, Hapa offers tamari wheat-free soy sauce, and the knowledgable wait staff and sushi chefs have easily informed me in the past as to which sushi rolls are and are not gluten-free.

Recently, Hapa made the gluten-free dining experience exponentially easier with the addition of a new gluten-free menu. Its diverse offerings span appetizers (i.e. edamame), salads, and a wonderful assortment of sushi rolls. You'll find many of the more straightforward rolls, like tekka maki (tuna), negihama (yellowtail with scallions), and California rolls (made with real crab meat). You'll also find more elaborate sushi rolls, as well as my Hapa favorite - the Rock N Roll (rock shrimp with cucumber in a spicy sauce). And to wash it all down, Hapa is serving Bard's Tale GF beer.

Hapa is one of those delightful instances where you'll find great food that will please both the gluten-free and the gluten-ous palate. If sushi is your thing, make haste to Hapa.

- Pete


H.Peter said...

Excellent. Sushi bar with GF soy sauce. THAT is rare.

We always bring our own, so Victoria can get her fish fix.

GFE--gluten free easily said...

Wow, that place sounds fantastic! I'd go for the Rock N Roll and the Bard's Tale for sure. :-)

Your "possible gluten contamination threat level" had me chuckle and I could relate for sure. One of our support group members tells a story about asking her server to speak to the cook (not a chef-type establishment) about gluten-free possibilities. The server gleefully reported that the cook said they didn't cook with gluten any more. Yeah, right. We have to chuckle at that kind of stuff, but then move on ... or do what she did and order a simple salad.

The soy sauce issue is one of those that I shake my head about, because if it can obviously be made easily without wheat and the wheat-free is available, why not just go that route completely? One day ... hopefully.

As you can see, I've finally got my own blog out there (not just GF, but GFE--my focus). I've linked to you guys. ;-)

Happy Friday!

Phoebe said...

Yes, it's seriously annoying when you can't get wheat free soy sauce at a sushi restaurant. Ai's at the 29th Street Mall also has wheat free tamari if you ask for it. I bring my own to the other sushi places I like, but there are so many other things you have to avoid that is annoying, like the fresh water eel.