TOSHIYUKI IWAI, HEAD CHEF, HAPA IZAKAYA – WEST END (2014)
You can find Chef Toshiyuki Iwai most nights at Hapa, with a spoon in his pocket, representing his taste for perfection. Iwai-san's passion for cooking comes from his mother, who taught him to always consider the people who he is cooking for. To this day, his guests continue to inspire him to reach new levels of his craft and to try new things in the kitchen.
At age 18, Iwai moved from his Osaka home to the big city of Tokyo to study economics in university. It was in Tokyo where he started his culinary career, cooking part-time in a successful izakaya-style restaurant. While working, Iwai met Canadian couple, Justin and Lea Ault, who were training to open their own izakaya in Vancouver. Intrigued by their determination and motivated by his love for the great outdoors, Iwai ventured over to the mountains of Whistler to snowboard and reconnect with the Hapa Izakaya owners. He fell in love with the landscape, diverse culture, and the people, and so, made the move to Vancouver. For the past 9 years, Chef Iwai has perfected the art of mixing Japanese tradition with Vancouver's modern multicultural scene, while integrating Hapa's commitment to fresh Ocean Wise seafood and local seasonal ingredients.
The next time you're in Hapa West End, keep an eye out for the man with the spoon!
HAPA IZAKAYA - WEST END
1479 Robson St. Vancouver
Three words to describe your cuisine?
Impactful, Seasonal, Delicious
Your signature dish?
Salmon Press Sushi - chopped sockeye, avocado, daikon, miso mayo, and parmesan
What do you enjoy most about your craft?
Making people happy
If you could give just one cooking tip what would it be?
Think of the people eating it
Who is the unsung hero in the kitchen?
Favourite Vancouver Food Truck?
When hiring someone for your kitchen, what is your hiring philosophy?
Have a dream and passion
The dish customers must try during Dine Out?
Sushimori - a daily selection of fresh assorted sushi rolls
The best part of Vancouver’s Dine Out Festival?
People start to get interested to go out and find something new
If you could go anywhere in the world for a meal, where would you go and what would you eat?
I would have freshly caught, local fish and shells in Japan