Of the three sushi restaurants within a two block stretch in downtown Boulder, Hapa is the one that fronts mall-side with the anime robot logo and the young waitrons dressed in black featuring, invariably, ample decolletage on display at the hostess dais. If all that is not annoying or enticing enough, the white cube that serves as back bar and waiting area with its clean lines and cosmo stylings will annoy or entice you some more. And, should you feel insufficiently annoyed or enticed by the time you sit, the blue glow that effuses between the closely arranged tables will surely send you to the very pinnacle of annoyance or enticement – a place where a bustling salaryman in downtown Tokyo, and perhaps only such a person, might feel truly at home.
While Hapa aspires toward a “harmonious blend of Asian and American cultures,” it is really less fusion than infusion, like the flavors in its sake, a range of once exotic and now relatively familiar tastes (uni, unagi) injected into a willing host (Pearl St., you). To be clear, the fare here is quite fine – fresh, clean, and balanced, sometimes suggestive, ultimately satisfying. But those are table stakes these days, particularly for a restaurant at the very epicenter of the city.
Is Hapa special? Does it rise to the high standards set by Sushi Den in Denver and Tora down the street? Your answer, I suspect, will depend upon your predisposition towards annoyance or enticement in the face of white bars, black shirts, and anime robots.