[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]hether you’re hankering after sushi, yakitori or a seasonal omakase after a day out on Mount Annupuri’s famed powdery slopes, there’s always something to tantalise your tastebuds in town.
One of Niseko’s newest culinary gems makes an impressive first impression. Owner Shouya Grigg, relocated a kominka, a traditional Japanese home, in its entirety – massive timber beams included – from the Tochigi prefecture to its current location where it overlooks a serene pine and maple forest. The ground floor houses a casual cafe as well as a 12-seater chef’s table featuring a multi-course modern Japanese omakase inspired by seasonal specialities. To experience a moment of zen, however fleeting, savour a Japanese tea ceremony in the loft of the building. The basement of the space is a gallery and event space hosting a roster of exhibitions by local artists.
78-5 Hanazono, Kutchan
02: Hanayoshi Sushi
For the freshest sushi in Niseko, dine at this unassuming restaurant located in a residential part of town, reportedly a favourite of local power players. Besides fresh catch and produce from Hokkaido, the restaurant also sources its fish from Tokyo’s Tsujiki market. The delicately fatty otoro is so tender it truly melts in the mouth and when in season, all it takes is a masterful grill to fully coax out the sweet flavours of the Hokkaido king crab. Everything on the menu is best paired with the excellent house junmai daiginjo sake.
80-2 Hondori, Niseko
03: Saika Yakitori
This cosy hole in the wall izakaya serves up honest to goodness yakitori skewers grilled over a charcoal fire and hearty local comfort dishes such as crispy potato croquettes oozing with cheese and rich butter corn. Blend in with the locals by washing it all down with a whiskey highball or a pint of ice cold Sapporo beer. In accordance with the establishment’s tradition, do pose for a Polaroid before you leave, sign it and pin it wherever you can find an empty space to leave your mark.
3-4-18 Kita Rokujo Nishi, Kutchan
04: An Dining
Hokkaido native head chef Shinichi Maeda, who found fame at Sake Brisbane in Australia, where he picked up a Chef’s Hat award, helms this stylish farm-to-table izakaya located within boutique hotel Ki Niseko. The nightly seasonal menu ranges from deliciously fresh sashimi to elevated classics like amaebi prawn bisque. Save some room for Hokkaido-inspired desserts as well as a few drams of the increasingly rare single malt yoichi whiskey from the nearby Nikka Yoichi Distillery.
183-43 Yamada, Kutchan
Tel: 0136 21 2565