Monday, May 05, 2014

Niseko and Otaru

C says:

In the 2 years since we were last in Niseko, it's gotten even more crowded and touristy, to the point where dining out feels more like you're in Australia than in Japan... Still, Niseko will always be our happy place; we just have to look for less touristy hideaways on our next trips.


No trip to Niseko is complete without a trip to either BangBang or Bang2, the 2 sister yakitori joints that serve some of the best skewers we've had, anywhere. Besides the awesome yaki camembert, this time we tried the grilled king crab legs, and thought we'd died and gone to heaven.

I never really understood the appeal of crab legs, since the ones I've tried have mainly been watery or tasteless. I thought the garlic ones at Crab in Da Bag were pretty good, but the one here completely blew us away. The legs were packed with meat, which was sweet, tender and smokey yet perfectly cooked from the expert grilling.

Tsubara Tsubara Soup Curry

Arguably the best soup curry in the Niseko area, this was a 10 minute walk from the centre of Hirafu, but it was well worth it.

Better than the Soup Curry Lavi chain from Hokkaido, the soup curry here is thin and soupy, yet still packs a spicy punch. Extremely addictive. My only regret was only have one meal here. Next time I need to plan for at least two.

Ezo Seafoods

Just like the Bangs, Ezo is consistently on everyone's list of recommended restaurants in Niseko. We missed coming here on our last 2 trips, so we made it a point to make a reservation here for our last night.

The seafood here is without question incredibly fresh. We had yellowtail, salmon and chutoro sashimi, all of which came with incredibly thick, unctuous slices.

The seafood and squid ink paella was very good, with lovely bits of charred rice to scrape from the pan.The crab legs here were simply boiled and served with a ponzu dipping sauce. Again, the crabmeat was amazingly sweet and meaty, but given the choice of this and the grilled ones at Bang2, we'd pick the grilled ones in a heartbeat.

Otaru is an hour and a half train ride from Niseko, so we took a day trip to visit all our favourite food joints, including Rokkatei soft ice cream and Kitakaro's cream puffs.

Sushi Gen

We stopped at Sushi Gen, the hole-in-the-wall sushi joint for which we have a soft spot. A ordered a set, while I ordered single pieces of my favourites like uni and toro.

All of them were very refined and very good. I love that because it's quite a random place, it's not at all touristy and we can go in, quietly have a few pieces of really good sushi, and pop out again.

Yabuhan Soba

Again, this place isn't along the main tourist street; hidden off the main street, it's an unassuming little haven for really good soba.

I had the cold soba with a hot duck dipping broth, and A had a simple zaru soba. So simple, and a simply perfect way to end our Otaru food crawl.

A says:

Bang Bang and Bang2 are AWESOME. Some of my fav bites in Japan. And best crab legs I've ever had. EVER. And of course Otaru is a fav place for us to get sushi, cream puffs and snacks and ice cream. If only we could go back every year.