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Hapa J’s is located in San Clemente, which isn’t exactly a food destination as there isn’t much down there. However, Hapa J’s is sort of an unlikely oasis of good food down there. They serve Hawaiian food some of which is normal Hawaiian food and some of which is sort of fusion-y as it’s a little bit different than the regular style.
We spoke to the owner (Justin) for a while. He was previously living in Hawaii and working at a hotel there. Justin and a chef from the hotel decided to open up a restaurant here to bring Hawaiian food back to the mainland as there wasn’t much available here. I really like Hawaiian food so it’s great to have somewhere that is a little closer than having to trek all the way to Gardena for it plus I have some family down there, so it’s doubly convenient for me.
The inside is divided into two areas. One side is a more casual area (where we sat) that has lots of tables and chairs, the other side is a more upscale side that looks more like it’s for bigger groups. It’s got a nice casual feel to it. The service was good and attentive.
Here’s what we got:
- Kalua Pig Quesadillas: This was a quesadilla with pulled pork, cheese, topped with an avocado sour cream sauce and chipotle aioli. There was also salsa on the side. These were really good, the pork was tender and flavorful and the sauces on top were also good. This is one of the more fusion-y dishes I was talking about, but it was good and I would definitely get this again. It’s the type of dish I would like with a beer. 4.25/5
- Ahi Poke: This was ahi cut into cubes and mixed with sesame seasoning and drizzled with a spicy aoli sauce, seaweed and pickled ginger. The ahi was good quality ahi and it tasted good with the sauce although because it was good quality I think I would’ve preferred it served the traditional way with just soy sauce, sesame oil and chili powder. That said it was still pretty good. 4/5
- Spicy Chicken Wings: These were similar to Korean fried chicken, but a little less crispy and not quite as sweet or spicy. They were pretty tasty, the chicken was tender and the seasoning was a good, it was a little bit on the salty side, but I liked these and I’d get them again. 4/5
- Spam Masubi and Portguese Sausage: I love spam masubi and I love Portuguese sausage, so this is an awesome combo for me. This was the best spam masubi I’ve had in a long time. Spam masubi is sort of a sushi with spam that has been sautéed in teriyaki sauce. The rice was seasoned with furikake, which is a Japanese dry seasoning made up of a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar and salt. They cut it in half and drizzled it with teriyaki sauce. I really liked this. The Portuguese sausage was served simply sautéed and it was very tasty as well. The owner said they found a local butcher to make it for them. I highly recommend getting this dish. 4.6/5
- Loco Moco: Loco moco is very Hawaiian dish. It’s a grilled hamburger patty, eggs over easy over rice and then smothered in brown gravy. I haven’t had this in many years and it was really good here. The hamburger and egg were both cooked perfectly and the gravy on top was really tasty. I forgot how much I like this dish. I highly recommend. 4.5/5
- Salad: This was simply a salad tossed in vinaigrette. It was a very simple, but it tasted good. 4/5
- Hawaiian Style Bread Pudding: This was interesting, it was King's Hawaiian sweet bread infused with white chocolate. It was pretty rich, but I thought it was pretty good. It had an almost citrus-y flavor so I’m not quite sure what they flavored it with. The sweet crème sauce on top was pretty good. Overall, it was pretty good. 4/5
Overall, I really liked this place; it was good comfort type food. I recommend coming here if you’re in the area.