Hapa Sushi’s Extensive Gluten-Free Menu Expands Options for Local GF DietersBy Evan Sandsmark -
Sushi is a divisive food. You either love it or you don’t, much like a sports team or a politician. (Seriously, how many people kinda like or dislike Sarah Palin. No, you’re with her or against her, plain and simple.) There are some people who are really enthusiastic about sushi, ever-ready for a few rounds of rolls, and others simply don’t care for it. In Boulder and elsewhere, the sphere of raw fish leaves no room for the undecided.
Suppose you’re the type of person who likes sushi, and further suppose you’re gluten intolerant. Will the latter limitation compromise the former desire? Not at all, provided you can make your way to Hapa Sushi, and since there are two locations in the middle of Boulder, this shouldn’t be too large of a burden.
The first thing to be said about Hapa’s gluten-free menu is that it’s just that, a menu. In other words, you have a full and separate menu to pull from to make your food selections, not a few measly items that can be stripped down to make them technically gluten-free.
To begin, there are some GF salads available, but GF salads seem to be the rule rather than the exception, so this section of the menu, at least when taken in isolation, is nothing to get too excited about. There are also some great GF appetizers on the menu (we can’t seem to go to Hapa without getting edamame), and while this is cool, we have bigger fish to fry, and by “bigger” we mean “raw,” and by “fry” we mean “write about.” These bigger fish are, of course, the sushi items, which we will now examine. (Yes, we realize that “fish” is being punned on all over the place in those last couple sentence, and yes, we intend it, but not without reluctance.)
Perhaps the item most commonly associated with sushi is the roll, and Hapa has tons to choose from that are gluten-free. There are so-called “beginner sushi rolls,” and these appear to be the fairly popular and simple varieties, like the California Roll and the Salmon Avocado Roll. Needless to say, being popular and simple is by no means a detriment, and a sampling of the beginner rolls will support this judgment. There are also a number of vegetarian rolls, in case you’re interested in avoiding both gluten and any form of meat. Again, these rolls tend to be fairly simple, involving as they do only a couple main ingredients, but they are none the worse because of it. The Aspara Maki (featuring asparagus) is very good, as is the Cucumber Avocado Roll.
The next two categories of rolls on the menu are the “intermediate” and “Hapa original” sushi rolls. We’ll focus on the second (in large part because the “intermediate” section only has a single, albeit good-sounding, roll). The first thing that will strike you about the Hapa original rolls are their transparently sexual names. You might start your dining experience with the Foreplay Roll, which is a California roll wrapped in salmon, and assuming everything goes right from there, you might eventually reach the Climax Roll, which is also a California roll wrapped in salmon, but the salmon is smoked. If you’re dining with someone who isn’t gluten intolerant, you might even consider ordering the non-GF Orgasm Roll. Depending on your eating partner’s appetite, he or she might even have multiple Orgasm Rolls (or maybe just the Multiple Orgasm Roll, which is actually the name of another roll). You won’t get to eat any of this erotically-named roll, but hey, sometimes you have to do things for your partner that don’t directly benefit you. OK, we’re getting a little uncomfortable – let’s move on to the sashimi.
There are a dozen different sashimi items to choose from, ranging from yellowtail and mackerel to a few different types of tuna, and which ones you choose should be influenced largely by your preference for one type of fish over another. This is so because sashimi is a minimalistic dish, customarily consisting of nothing more than a few slices of raw fish and dipping sauce, so there isn’t much use in recommending one over the other, as this would reveal nothing but our private predilections. If you are into sashimi, just make sure that the fish is fresh and professionally sliced. That’s about all the advice we can offer, and this applies to any sushi restaurant you might eat at.
Last up is the nigiri, which is kind of a mix between sushi rolls and sashimi. Nigiri is made with a small clump of rice that has a slice of fish pressed on top of it, and Hapa offers around 20 different options. Once again, you should select items on the basis of your fondness for a particular type of fish. Options include, but are not limited to, octopus, sea urchin, squid, and raw scallops, as well as some less exotic choices, like cooked shrimp and salmon.
The very last item on the menu is a gluten-free beer called Bard’s Tale Beer. We haven’t sampled it so we can’t attach any adjectives to it; however, it’s beer, and therefore worth trying.
If you want to check out Hapa’s Gluten-Free menu, first go to the following link:
Once you’re here, click the “menus” tab at the top of the page, and then click the “gluten-free” tab after the page loads. This should bring up the menu.
There is a Hapa restaurant on the Hill, which you can find here:
1220 Pennsylvania Ave.
Boulder, CO 80302
And there is also one located on Pearl Street, found at the following address:
1117 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302
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