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I’ve never been to Japan before, though most of my friends have been there multiple times. So many of them have gone to the Land of the Rising Sun (and so many times) that they thought I surely must have gone too. Sadly, that was not the case… until now… YAY!!!
The first half of my trip was up in Niseko, Hokkaido, where the snow was re-don-ku-lous – perfect for the main objective of my trip: snowboarding on the much lauded about sweet, sweet powder.
We stayed at Grandpapa Lodge (the sweetest people you would ever meet) and while it wasn’t in the centre of town, it was walking distance to some pretty delicious restaurants.
See! The snow was really crazy!! Our room was on the second floor, so you can see just how high it’s all piled up. And then trying to snowboard whilst it’s snowing was a little tough, but rather exhilarating with the low visibility. Much <3
Anywho, so the first restaurant we went to after a hectic first day of snowboarding was Tozanken, a cheerful ramen place close to the centre of town (just down the road from the Welcome Centre at Hirafu).
Who orders fries in a ramen place?? Well, it would turn out, that D does and we would come to expect an order of fries at least once a day during the entire trip. I love potatoes, but that was dedication right there.
R, being our resident pescetarian, ordered the rice with green tea. I’ve never heard of such a thing and stared at it in wonder. It was really rice with green tea!!! R lamented that she didn’t get to pour the tea into the rice, like this other restaurant she went to on her last trip. Despite the initial disappointment, she loved the dish and ordered it each time we came back.
D adored the pork cutlet and being too busy with eating, I couldn’t get anything else from him hehe.
Looking around, I noticed that the ramen bowls were maaaassssiiiivveee (later I found out, this is totally usual) so I opted for the small ramen. I adore ramen and wondered how much different it would taste in its homeland. Turns out, while overall it might be a bit tastier than back at home, it’s the little things that made the dish a lot better. Like the consistency and texture of the noodles and the rich broth, just naming a couple of things. Maybe it being super cold outside and having something so hearty just plucked at all the right heart strings while cocooning one in its warmth at the same time.
In any case, it’s hard to describe what made it so delicious good, but oh man, Japan definitely has made me love ramen even more (hard to imagine). This bowl of ramen was most definitely the first of many! Yumsters.
J and V ordered the specially made Asahikawa ramen and as a testament to its robust, gorgeous flavour – it was the only thing J would order.
Tozanken resides underneath a souvenir store (which is opened til late) and is wonderfully welcoming with food definitely made with love.
Down the road from the Welcome Center
Hirafu-Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
Yummy’s Restaurant and Bar
It was kind of funny how we ended up at Yummy’s. There’s a izuyaki restaurant about a minute’s walk from our accommodation, but found out rather disappointingly that they were full. Just as we were about to leave, two elderly gentlemen came in seeking a table as well.
Seeing that getting a table was impossible, one of them wondered out loud if they should go to Yummy’s instead. Although we really didn’t know where we were going to go, we joked with them that we’ll go to Yummy too and steal the last of the tables. I don’t know if it was accidental or one of the guys had guided us, but we found ourselves at Yummy’s 5 minutes later and were ushered upstairs. About 10 minutes later, the two elderly gentlemen also arrived haha.
I mean, don’t get me wrong – proscuitto is delicious and so is avocado, but together? On a pizza? All my reservations were wiped clean away as soon as it came to our table. It looked delicious and tasted even more so. Who would have thought?
The chicken mix pizza modestly included green peppers (which I took for green capsicums), mushrooms and onion. The chicken was still quite moist and the thin pizza base had a nice crispy edge (and no soggy middle). I loved their liberal use of the tomato sauce – the saucier, the better!
The seafood mix pizza had shrimp, squid and scallops. I had imagined fat, juicy scallops dotting the pizza, but they actually just had chopped them up, which I guess makes sense as it would be easier to eat. For R and I, this our least favourite pizza, considering we both love seafood. The flavour wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t spectacular either.
As soon as we saw Taco pizza, we had to order it. It sounded so bizarre! The pizza tasted pretty much like a taco (but with very little meat) – a giant soft-shelled taco. A little hard to get our head around the fact that we were really eating a pizza.
The garlic bread was sour-dough with a bit tamer garlic flavour than what we are used to, but it was still pretty good! The buttery bread was nice and crunchy with a soft inner core.
The sweet and spicy chicken wings were insanely good. Thankfully it wasn’t too spicy, but it did have a nice kick to it. Although we were surprisingly full by this stage, we were pretty tempted to order another plate of wings.
The brownie was wonderfully moist and the vanilla ice cream pretty decent, while the hot chocolate was awesomely creamy and chocolatey; it really hit the sweet spot!
Yummy’s a pretty fun place to go to eat, where the tables upstairs are the tradition low tables I associate with Japan (downstairs are normal, “western-style” tables). The food’s pretty satisfying and surprisingly filling.
Yummy’s Restaurant and Bar
Next to #3 Grand Hirafu Shuttle Bus Stop
Hirafu-Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan
So, here ends the first part of some of my eats in Niseko. Next week, we finally get to eat at Restaurant Rin (third time lucky!) and the funky izakaya, Yosuke.
And because it’s just too pretty not to share, I shall leave you with a most common sight bordering the slopes (thanks R for letting me use her photos!).