Header image courtesy of Kyle Head (via Unsplash)
Not only is Niseko home to some of the best skiing in the world, but what compliments this region in Hokkaido is the array of top quality food you may indulge in when you’re there. As an international tourist hotspot in Northern Japan, Niseko’s restaurant owners are here to provide you with every cuisine possible, using the finest local and imported ingredients to satisfy your needs. Indulge in the best eats and drinks that this Japanese ski town has to offer, from Hokkaido milk ice cream to lavish crab hot pot dinners. Here are the best restaurants in Niseko, Japan.
Japan is known for having the crème de la crème of steaks. The famous A5 Wagyu beef, the highest-grade and most luxurious piece of beef you could possibly purchase, can be found at Steak Rosso Rosso. The Japanese have a rigorous, in-depth meat grading process to the point that A5 Japanese Wagyu is literally off the USDA charts. The delicately grilled steak bites melt in your mouth and have the most amazing and robust flavours.
Served with grilled vegetables or potatoes, this will be your most simple yet complex meal. In case the Wagyu is too fatty and rich for you (as it can be for some people), there are other types of steak cuts that Rosso Rosso offers that are equally scrumptious. The restaurant has developed a large fan base and could be booked out even before the season begins. So if trying some of the best meats in the world is on your bucket list, definitely start calling them up to snatch a table before their tables are all fully booked.
Steak Rosso Rosso, 167-61 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan | (+81) 136 21 7100
Niseko is a pretty pricey place, but one way to dodge the hefty bill is by dining in the ramen restaurants that provide a flavourful yet affordable meal. The most popular and convenient ramen place is Tozanken Ramen. It is located on the main street of Hirafu, so whether you’re coming fresh off the slopes or simply passing through town and looking for a good meal, this is the place to go. The only downside is that it’s pretty popular, especially during dinnertime, so the queues can force people to wait out in the cold for 20 to 40 minutes. We recommend going for an early (6 pm) or late dinner (9 pm). In fact, the best time to go is during lunch, when most people are out shredding the slopes.
Tozanken Ramen, 191-31 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan | (+81) 136 23 4549
In case you were torn between choosing the Swiss Alps or Niseko for your ski trip, don’t you worry, because you can definitely experience a little bit of the Verbier vibes at The Alpinist, a Swiss-French restaurant. Situated on the top floor of the brand-new Odin Place on Hirafu’s main street, the cosy eatery offers crêpe, galettes, fondue, and raclette for the hungry skier. Definitely book ahead so you can guarantee your family, friends, and yourself a table. There’s also a bar on the floor below, perfect for a nightcap after some raclette, and a Burton shop if you want to purchase some much-needed ski gear.
The Alpinist, 190-13 Yamada, Kutchan Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, Japan | (+81) 0136 21 7003
Crab hotpot is really uncommon in most places, but hidden on the edge of Hirafu on Sakura-Zaka Street is Crab Dining Kanon, the best place to have a hotpot meal filled with fresh hairy, king, or snow crab. The little restaurant offers just two exclusive courses, all-inclusive of appetisers, crab gratin, dessert, and rice dishes. Each course has snow crab hotpot, boiled hairy crab, and grilled king crab. The main difference between the basic and special course is the addition of shabu-shabu beef.
King crab is the largest type of crab but the hairy crab is the sweetest and most flavourful. However, the snow crab is unique to the Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean. It is most abundant in the winter (hence the name); therefore, we recommend taking full advantage of consuming some during the wintertime! Advance reservation is necessary and there is no à la carte menu.
Crab Dining Kanon, 165-25, Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, Japan | (+81) 90 2695 4945
For anyone who’s lactose intolerant, they better have their lactose pills ready because you’re definitely going to need them for this food stop! Milk Kobo is an iconic dairy shop 20 minutes outside Hirafu. To get there, you’ll have to take one of the operating buses. Hokkaido is known for having some of the best dairy products, thanks to the delicious and unique flavour of their milk and cheese. This unique flavour is translated into all of their other products such as their sponge cake, cheesecake, cheese tarts, yoghurt drink, and more.
We would highly recommend the cheese tarts and yoghurt drink, as those are their best sellers. For those who want to bring some home, they do sell packaged cakes and cookies, but you’ll have to consume the cheese tarts and ice cream on the spot. In case you don’t have time to make a trip to Milk Kobo, there has recently been a cheese tart food truck on Hirafu’s main street opposite the ramen restaurant, so pop by before 9 pm and you can still grab a gooey cheese tart!
Milk Kobo, 888-1 Soga, Niseko, Abuta District, Hokkaido 048-1522, Japan | (+81) 136 44 3734
To explore other parts of Niseko and have a change in scenery, you could head over to Yang Shu Ten, a Japanese regional restaurant that offers a variety of Japanese dishes, including sushi, tempura, grilled hamachi, and eel. It is located in Niseko Village, just a 15- to 20-minute bus ride away from the main town. After dinner, take a peek at the Hilton and the neighbouring little restaurants. These pockets of restaurants in the Niseko Village are fairly new and definitely worth a look.
Yang Shu Ten, Aza, 919-4 Soga, Niseko, Abuta District, Hokkaido 048-1592, Japan | (+81) 136 44 1160
Bar Gyu+ is a speakeasy bar just off the main road of Hirafu that offers cool cocktails in an earthy setting. The entrance is quite hidden and easy to miss, but don’t miss the chance to visit Niseko’s oldest bar nestled behind an old Coca Cola vending machine. Once inside, you’ll find yourself listening to blues and jazz while enjoying one of their special whiskeys. This bar has been around for a long time but has only started to become the talk of the town in the last four years or so when non-locals discovered it. Tip: If you get lost, just ask around using its street name—“The Fridge Door.”
Bar Gyu+, 167-21 Yamada, Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido 044-0081, Japan | (+81) 136-23-1432