Can sushi, children, and a kid-strapped budget really mix? is a trifecta of things that make parents “hapi”…but can it make kids happy too?
Opened in April 2011, Hapi Fish has fast become a hangout for both families and the kidless alike, and for good reason. The vibe of Hapi Fish encapsulates everything that we like about Encinitas. Laid back sushi chefs, good music, a light and airy building with cool minimalist finishes.
For the kids? Lots of TVs, loud buzz and, even better, more kids. I counted a minimum of 10 each time we went, putting us instantly at ease. It’s a relaxed vibe where people don’t flinch if a baby shrieks, and tables of twenty-somethings enjoying happy hour coexist peacefully with the preschool set. And if you’re really intent on date night or a quiet conversation, the sushi bar in the back room provides a more intimate atmosphere.
Hapi Hour every night until 7 is key, and even better is the Monday night all night Hapi Hour. I love the fact that the place is always busy, especially during Mondays where a lively night out is just the way to start the week. Tuna Tuesdays are another special evening that draws the crowds.
The Hapi Hour specials run from very kid friendly – edamame for $1, “Hapi” fries with blue cheese for $4, pork gyoza (potstickers) for $4, calamari for $6 and the list goes on. Your kids can eat just from the Happy Hour menu and be stuffed, or they can move on to the $6.50 kids menu which includes a drink and dessert.
If your kid is game for sushi (which would make them highly unusual), there are lots of “starter” options such as the Beach Bum roll featuring spicy tuna, crab mix, cream cheese and jalapeno and is deep fried, or the Thanks 4 Stopping By with shrimp tempura and mango topped with roasted coconut, pineapple-mango salsa and sweet thai chili sauce. Or at least they’ll like the funny names!
There is a wealth of sushi options to please grown ups too, from rolls to sashimi and fish of all types is served in shooter form, cooked in tacos or piled into bowls with brown rice or noodles. Variety is not an issue at Hapi Fish.
As for the sushi, is it the best in town? Reviews from my family were mixed. Is it the best value and best atmosphere? I would say yes. But let’s hear it from the girl’s point of view…
Ella, age 8, says -
Hapi Fish is a restaurant not a lot of people know about. It is still pretty new. I think it is a happy, delicious restaurant. There are a lot of people there and it is always noisy. It’s not bare and empty.
If you don’t like sushi, there are a lot of smaller things on the menu, like edamame or pot stickers that you can make a meal out of. They have a kid’s menu but it is not too big. The choices are chicken tenders, quesadilla, chicken and rice or a kids California roll. I liked the chicken and the rice because the chicken was soft inside. It was a little burnt outside…mommy told me it is char broiled.
The rice was a little plain; I liked to add soy sauce to it.
My favorite thing was the pot stickers. They were creamy on the inside and they had vegetables but you couldn’t even taste them. I think they just taste really delicious.
The regular edamame has a spicy salt on it. If you don’t like spice you can order without it. The fries are a little spicy but kids will probably like them.
I didn’t really like the California Roll. I was adventurous to order it but they looked weird. I don’t like it with soy sauce because it was too strong. They didn't smell good to me.
Dessert was mochi balls. In the inside it’s sort of like drier ice cream and the outside is soft and chewy and sweet and they cut it into four pieces with whipped cream and raspberry sauce. We tried mango, green tea (tasted like mint) and strawberry.
Overall, I think this restaurant is a very good place to eat at, even if you don’t like sushi.
So there you have it! Sushi with the whole family is not only possible, but can be a night out that will please everyone at Hapi Fish.
Cyndi Darlington and her daughter Ella, age 8, are "The Gourmet Girls". As a restaurant industry marketing executive, Cyndi has been hauling Ella out to eat since she was one week old. In their family, good restaurant behavior and adventurous eating make childhood much more interesting, and they are eager to share their observations about local restaurants with you. They hope their opinions will help you put some of the fun back into dining out with the kids!
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