IF you thought Hirafu had a great selection of charming and affordable restaurants then wait until you head into K-town. As the typical Japanese house is not suited to entertaining the tradition is to met out in restaurants when catching up with friends. Tokyo, New York and London are roughly the same population but compared to NY and London’s 10,000 eating and drinking establishments, Tokyo boasts 50,000. For a rural town of 10,000 Kutchan has enough wining and dining options to keep you going every night for a year without a repeat visit.
Part of the fun of a visit to Japan is experimenting with the local delicacies, so I dare you to get the ¥100 ‘Night Go’ bus into Kutchan, wander into the bustling restaurant district under the arch from Eki Mae dori, somewhere with a red lantern out the front and plop yourself down for a meal. Eschew the English menu and communicate with your host into their recommendations and away you go.
Kutchan has a great range of restaurants and as the area is by and large working class; most places are fabulous value, even if you’re spending Australian or English pesos. Most visitors to Hokkaido will know that this island is as much about the food as it is the snow and Kutchan is a true reflection of this. You can enjoy some of the finest seafood you can imagine for a fraction of the cost that you will pay for the same quality in Tokyo.
Here is a selection of Powderlife’s favourite Kutchan restaurants:
The course menu in Shunsai is breathtaking. For ¥4,000 you’ll be begging for mercy as one terrific dish after another is laid in front of you. The deer steak is something to behold. 0136-23-1882 North 1, West 3.
Shogun Sushi is a low-profile sushi restaurant that serves arguably the best quality sashimi in the whole area. Sushi and Sashimi is their staple, so be warned they need advanced warning if you want something apart from fish. Extra friendly hosts with group seating upstairs. 5-11pm Tel. 0136 23 2898 North 2, West 1
A favourite of both foreign and Japanese locals; some of whom have been going 3 to 5 nights a week for the past seven years. Affordable and great quality food – yakitori (chicken sticks) is their speciality. Getting a seat at the counter is difficult, they also have tatami-style and western seating. Near the 7-11 just along from the Co-op. Closed Sundays 5-11.30pm. 0136-23-2893. North 3, West 1.
Cafe Le Cochon
A charming French restaurant with great prices. See the restaurant review on page 36
This is the kind of place with such a laid back vibe you’ll feel like staying for half the day. Shukin opened Café Kaku seven years ago and he’s still serving some of the best coffee in all of Japan. The wholemeal pizzas and foccacias are a specialty and there is an excellent selection of cakes and smoothies. See listing on this page for details.
A yaki-niku (BBQ meat) restaurant run by a ‘senior’ mother-daughter team who provide excellent quality beef that you grill yourself at your own table. Kongow is the closest thing to teppanyaki in the Niseko area. On the corner directly across from Shogun Sushi. 11.30-2pm and 4 – 10.30. 0136 22 0298 North 1, West 1