Japas, open since late October, is the newest resto-lounge to infuse a little late-night attitude into the pervasive sushi experience. Occupying the corner lot that once housed Camto, this new addition to Koreatown aspires to be a hit with locals and the 20-something student crowd by keeping late hours and serving an inexpensive tapas menu alongside pitchers of beer.
Inside the narrow dinning room, long tables and bench seating make the space feel kind of like a beer hall. At 6pm on a weekday, only a couple tables are full but it's not hard to imagine boisterous crowds enjoying sake-fueled nights over plates of the daily oyster varieties and snack-bar selections like, the Yakitori skewers ($2) and Enoki mushrooms wrapped in bacon ($3).
Owners Kim Chou and Chris Xu want to offer seafood in a casual and inexpensive setting, taking full advantage of the supplier relationships Chou has already established through his other business, Kensington Market's New Seaway Fish Market.
Taking advantage of Chou's expertise for myself, I sample items from the raw bar like the Bincho Tataki ($7), a generous plate featuring smoky flavoured, thin-sliced, seared tuna and refreshing cucumbers marinated in tart ponzu sauce.
The Oshi Sushi Tasting ($13, lead photo), offers six unique presentations of fresh selections, which tonight include; fluke, scallops, tuna and salmon topped in a variety of garnishes and complimentary sauces.
The Wild Jumbo Shrimp Tempura ($7) is impressively light and fresh and comes dressed with spicy wasabi mayo and house sauce that packs a little punch.
My visit to Japas hardly disappoints, but my guess is that things were only getting started as I was heading out. Japas is open nightly from 5pm to 2am.
Photos by Morris Lum