Japas is the new Japanese tapas and oyster bar that opened up in the old Camto location in Koreatown. With their inexpensive happy hour deals, it will no doubt draw in a younger crowd.Happy hour (4-6PM or 10-12AM) sees deals like $25 for a pitcher with a tapas dish. With an extensive list of tapas under $9 makes for a great place to hang out with a group of friends. Oysters are also relatively inexpensive, with half dozens costing less than $20.The wine list is just there for appearance’s sake and the beer selection is by no means extensive. The shortcomings of those lists are countered with the offering of sake, soju and chu-hi (Japanese carbonated drink).
The food was good but the overall dining experience was tainted by poor service.
The Oknomiyaki ($9) had a nice crust to it, not dissimilar to a rice crust found at the bottom of a bowl of Korean clay pot rice. The Enoki Bacon ($3/skewer) was one of my favourite dishes as the saltiness and fat from the bacon added a boost of flavour to an otherwise flavourless Enoki. It had a nice charred, smokey flavour to it that was simply irresistible. The Mini Kaisen Oyako Don ($7), essentially Chirashi, was pretty standard save for the salmon roe – bursting, flavourful balls of yummy. The rice didn’t even need soy sauce because these orange pearls packed in so much flavour. It brought back memories of biting into the Foie Gras Cromesquis at Au Pied de Cochon.My experience at Japas was like a rollercoaster. It went from initial excitement to utter disappointment.
The specials were read to us from a chalkboard that is not very well-placed in the restaurant and depending on where you sat, required contortionist-style head movement to see. Those sitting directly under the chalkboard might start putting out a tips bucket for the crowd that huddles in front of it to read the specials.
We watched several platters of oysters pass by your table where ours was nowhere in sight. By the time our third hot dish came to the table we had given up hope and decided we could do without. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until after the server brought us our bill that they remembered, charged us for it on the bill and chimed “The oysters will be right up.” We politely said “Too late” and the charge was removed.
I quite enjoyed the food at Japas and was happy to see that it wasn’t the same old boring izakaya menu that everyone else is doing. Like chicken karaage at an izakaya is to tacos at a pub, I’m glad that Japas did their own spin with monk fish. This substitution was a clever choice as the texture of monk fish could almost fool you into thinking you were having chicken karaage.
While the chef knows what he’s doing, the same cannot be said of the front-end staff. The servers can barely speak English which led to us getting an extra beer instead of the bill when asked. With that said, there is hope for Japas. After all, lousy service is easier to remedy than terrible food.