Restaurant Review: Snow Castle at Chalet Ivy [Niseko]

I had a personal mission to eat at least one good kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese meal) dinner while in Hokkaido, so I booked dinner at Snow CastleSnow Castle is an upscale traditional Japanese restaurant situated within the charming hotel Chalet Ivy.

Entrance to Chalet Ivy

They require prior booking for their set meals, and you have a choice of three price tiers ranging from 8,000 yen ($70) and up.   We chose the mid-tier option, which was about 15,000 yen ($133) per person,  not including tax.

Based on the online reviews, the biggest complaint for this restaurant was the high price and the lack of certain ambience.  I thought I’d give it a shot…and boy, I was not disappointed at all!

Reviews were right in that there were not a lot of other guests.  In fact we were the only ones in our corner window section over looking the main Hirafu street.  I didn’t mind!  Very tranquil and peaceful for a relaxing evening of fine dining.

Every piece of food within each course was carefully crafted, and the ingredients were top-notch.  There was a theme of foie gras and wagyu throughout the set dinner (incorporated in the sushi, steak, and even dessert).  The meal also was more sushi focused than what was expected, which was a pleasant surprise.  The one word to describe my experience here would be: MAGICAL.

The highlight of the night was when the Executive sushi chef came to our table, right after we were already presented with a gorgeous spread of sushi.  I thought it was nice of him to greet us, but he actually performed a live sushi show at our table and prepared two more scrumptious pieces, otoro and uni (tuna and sea urchin), delivering them right into our plates.  It was also amusing to hear him speak very proficient cantonese, because he had spent a few years working abroad in Hong Kong.  That interactive experience to conclude our meal was just sweet icing on the cake.

Pre-dinner “bread”: Japanese style cracker with mascarpone dip / Pre-appetizer: Clam Cream Soup

IMG_5235Appetizer: Boiled chrysanthemum and tofu, Hokkaido monk fish liver, Hokkaido wagyu “Tataki” style, Hokkaido Cod soft roe with ginger soy sauce

IMG_5236I thought the cod soft roe texture would freak me out, but it was actually very fresh and delicious.  Similar to sea urchin sashimi, but more juicy.

IMG_5237Assorted Sashimi ~ otoro (tuna), scallop, amaebi (shrimp), uni (sea urchin)…and a tempura shrimp head!

IMG_5240Close up of otoro and scallop

IMG_5241Close up of uni (sea urchin)….what a generous portion!

IMG_5242Close up of amaebi (shrimp) and leaner cut of tuna

IMG_5243Warm Dish Course: Deep fried “ebi-imo” (taro)

IMG_5268IMG_5267IMG_5266Second Appetizer: Assorted fusion sushi (yellow tail belly, wagyu beef, foie gras)

This was so amazing and gorgeous, I just had to provide a photo from three different angles!  Each piece was topped with a unique topping.

IMG_5269Meat Dish Course: Charcoal grilled Hokkaido wagyu beef.  Melt in your mouth….evenly distributed fat, paired with fresh vegetables.

IMG_5271Assorted Sushi: Salmon, Eel, Crab Leg

I thought we were just getting three pieces, but then this guy (the chef) came and gave us more + sushi show!

IMG_5274IMG_5275Heavenly Otoro

IMG_5276Look at the generous amount of uni in that gunkan.  He used an entire box on our table of 4!

IMG_5277I took a picture of my friend’s perfect complete sushi spread, because I already ate some of mine by the end of the sushi show >_<!

IMG_5278My husband’s gunkan fell over because there was SO MUCH UNI piled on!

IMG_5279Miso Soup

IMG_5280Dessert: Foie Gras Ice cream with sweet potato compote.  No, it wasn’t weird at all, if you are wondering.

I highly recommend this restaurant, especially if you are a fan of sushi & you are looking for a more traditional Japanese meal while staying in Niseko.

My satisfaction level was 10/10 from this meal.  TOO GOOD.

Address188-19 Aza Yamada | Chalet Ivy, Hirafu-zaka St, Hirafu Upper VillageAbuta-gun, Kutchan-cho 044-0081, Hokkaido

Hours:  6:00pm – 10:30 pm, Winter (Thu – Tue), Summer (Fri  -Sun)

Cost (per person): Tiered set meal (minimum 9500 yen / $85, and up)

Website: http://www.chaletivy.com/dining/snow-castle/

Date visited: 2/28/17

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