Niseko has inherited another brilliant European-trained Japanese
chef with the opening of new Italian restaurant, Bion. Located in a forest-side mountain lodge in the hamlet of Izumikyo alongside Hirafu, Bion is a fresh new high-end addition to Niseko’s thriving dining scene.
Chef Naoki Matsuoka was born and bred in Hokkaido, before training for several years in France and Italy, as well as working in restaurants in Singapore and Tokyo. For the past 18 years he has run his own restau- rant – Restaurant Nao – in Chitose (near the airport).
It was here that Tokyo investment banker-turned-restaurateur Toshio Nishimura first discovered Matsuoka-san’s exquisite Hokkaido-influ- enced, wood-fired Italian fare and had the idea to import him to Niseko in the winter months.
Chef Matsuoka’s speciality is wood-fired grilled meat, his decades of experience obvious in the delicately smoky flavours of the wagyu beef and crisp-skinned porchetta pork cooked to tender, juicy perfection.
It should be noted that Chef Matsuoka’s style is not strictly Italian, with plenty of Japanese culinary influence. For instance, he points out the Hokkaido wagyu beef is basted with a soy-based sauce and offers freshly grated wasabi to garnish. An assorted seafood plate contains ouma fatty tuna sashimi creatively paired with local uni (sea urchin) and caviar. Dessert is a matcha- green tea flavoured tiramisu served in a sake masu (box cup).
Chef Matsuoka’s other great skill is sourcing outstanding seafood
and produce from around Hokkaido and Japan. Wagyu beef and pork are sourced from across Hokkaido, and as a keen fisherman, Chef Matsuoka says he picks up plenty of tips from fisherman he knows and meets around the traps who can tip him off on what seafood is fresh and from where.
Open 7 days. 5pm-11pm.