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Jan 27, 2007 07:02 PM

Hapa in Oldsmar -- WOW!!!!

My husband and I had, hands-down, the most fabulous meal we've experienced since moving to the Tampa area almost a year ago--and we've had many fabulous meals. Listed in Chris Sherman's "100 Best" article as one of the top 5 splurge restaurants in the area, this little jewel of a restaurant tucked in a strip shopping center on Tampa Road between the railroad tracks and the flea market is on par with meals we've enjoyed at celebrity chef restaurants in several locales across the country.

The husband-wife team is trained in the classical French culinary tradition and meld Hawaiian, French, and international influences into an innovative Hawaiian fusion cuisine. "Hapa" apparently means "mixed" in Hawaiian. The restaurant is small but tastefully appointed. We couldn't help but notice that most of the patrons on this Saturday night were regulars who the owners knew by name. In fact, they greeted us by name (based on our reservation) as soon as we stepped through the door. The service is warm, friendly and impeccable. We were quick to get on their email list for wine dinners and special events.

For starters, we shared the escargot, served in a cylindrical potato cone and bathed in a basil-butter sauce atop a bed of mashed potatoes. Divine! We both enjoyed the evening's salad special--shaved green papaya and Asian pears with a Vietnamese-influenced peanut dressing. Outstanding. For his entree, my husband had the special, a whole fried yellowtail snapper on a bed of mashed potatoes and washed in a vibrant citrus sauce. The snapper was deep-fried to make it look as though it was fighting the hook at its moment of capture--a stunning presentation. I was knocked out by my entree, six huge diver scallops crowning the best mushroom risotto I have ever tasted. Restaurant risottos can be hit or miss, as they are so easy to overcook--but this risotto was perfect. The portion was huge, so I will be enjoying my risotto for lunch tomorrow, as well. For dessert, we shared the Gran Marnier Souffle. Dessert souffles are hard to come by, and this one was truly special.

This is definitely a splurge restaurant--most entrees are in the high $20s and appetizers in the low teens. Plan on dropping around $60 - $75 per person. It is money well-spent for a truly memorable meal. We will be back, again and again.

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  1. Man.... Right up the road...
    Thanks for the great review!

    I'm a cooking fanatic, and make a decent risotto myself... ----and I'm trying to spend less on food for 2007, so I'll wait for a special occassion---- but that'll be the place we hit... Sounds like my kinda stuff...
    I always wanted a whole crispy fish cooked like that!
    Come to papa!

    1. Laurie- I actually met one of the owners in the hospital (I work there) and she was so lovely. Her hubbie brought up a bunch of cards before she left and I've been meaning to go there. My husband has been a bit skeptical, being that we didn't know anyone that had went- but now I can use your review and get a fabulous dinner.

      1. Wow, isn't it a small world? Nina, I think, is her name. Your husband will not be disappointed--I promise! Please post after your dinner there and let me know what you think!

        1. My father-in-law took us for dinner on Wednesday. Given the location, not expecting much. Boy, was I surprised! Completely agree with the above review. My wife had the scalps, my f-i-l and I had the striped bass (fantastic, on a bed of purple rice), and my f-i-l's significant other had the fillet mignon (the leftovers of which made exceptionally good cold steak sandwiches the next day). Soufflé for dessert. Wine list was well-chosen and fairly priced. Dinner ran about $300 with wine. A very fair price for an extremely well-executed meal. Highly recommended.

          1. Finally, I had the pleasure of dining in an establishment that understands the meaning of the word "dine". Hapa is an elegant little restaurant hidden in plain sight in a strip mall in Oldsmar. My wife and I dined there recently and had the most wonderful experience. The service was spot on, professional without being supercilious. The service was paired beautifully with cuisine meant for royalty. The rack of lamb was cooked to perfection and the seared scallops were perfectly prepared, and enormous, served nestled on a bed of the most scrumptious risotto I have yet tasted. The crab cake appetizer was pure heaven with loads of lump crab held together by just enough other ingredients to call it a cake. Oh, and dessert was divine. A pistachio semi freddo was the perfect ending to our meal, a frozen concoction of candied pistachios and whipped cream, like ice cream but not. We will most definitely return there to be pampered by Brett and Nina, the husband and wife culinary team who so beautifully executed our dining experience. If you have never been to Hapa then do yourself a favor and do so. The experience will help you forget the many other inept restaurants you've wasted time and money in. I'll be raving about this gem for quite some time.

            3970 Tampa Rd Ste Q, Oldsmar, FL 34677

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