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 Castle. Snow 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
Appetizer: Boiled chrysanthemum and tofu, Hokkaido monk fish liver, Hokkaido wagyu “Tataki” style, Hokkaido Cod soft roe with ginger soy sauce
I 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.
Assorted Sashimi ~ otoro (tuna), scallop, amaebi (shrimp), uni (sea urchin)…and a tempura shrimp head!
Close up of otoro and scallop
Close up of uni (sea urchin)….what a generous portion!
Close up of amaebi (shrimp) and leaner cut of tuna
Warm Dish Course: Deep fried “ebi-imo” (taro)
Second 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.
Meat Dish Course: Charcoal grilled Hokkaido wagyu beef. Melt in your mouth….evenly distributed fat, paired with fresh vegetables.
Assorted 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!
Look at the generous amount of uni in that gunkan. He used an entire box on our table of 4!
I 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 >_<!
My husband’s gunkan fell over because there was SO MUCH UNI piled on!
Dessert: 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.
Address: 188-19 Aza Yamada | Chalet Ivy, Hirafu-zaka St, Hirafu Upper Village, Abuta-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)
Date visited: 2/28/17