MANY winter visitors to Niseko will come across Jam Bar. While this legendary Hirafu bar is best known for its late-night antics, Guru Guru parties and hard-dance music it also has a menu worth discovering and, surprisingly, is a great place for a quiet dinner.
I arrived at Jam Bar with two local regulars who, despite their combined eight Niseko winters, had never eaten there. After our meal they wondered why.
Jam Bar is festooned with colourful lights, handmade furniture and quirky fixtures. The menu caters for all tastes and levels of hunger with a hearty mix of traditional Japanese yakitori, rice and noodle dishes, as well as hearty pizzas and burgers. The drinks menu is extensive offering a wide selection of cocktails and a chalkboard menu choice of over 30 shots.
We kicked off our night with a few cold beers, Midori Margherita and a Bend It Like Beckham cocktail. The evening’s lengthy procession of food began with Shirasu Oroshi (freshly grated Japanese radish topped with whitebait) and Tuna Poki (raw tuna mixed with soy sauce). The Yudofu arrives just as the final morsel of Yakitori is savoured.
Yudofu is fresh, soft tofu boiled lightly and dipped in a Japanese ponzu sauce and is a perfect counter to the yakitori and cheese-laden pizza on the way.
Our pizza of choice from a selection of five was Jam’s Knockout Pizza. A Teriyaki Chicken Burger was selected to accompany the pizza and satisfy the beer drinker of the group. The burgers range from ¥700 to ¥850 and are served with thick potato wedges – an excellent choice for budget meal seekers.
There are loads of affordable eating options at Jam Bar including their delicious Yakisoba (¥650), Marinated Chicken Wings (¥650), Miso Salmon Steak (¥850) and Jam’s Rice Balls (¥500). After mulling these options we decided they were for another time. Instead we went with the Osaka noodles and the waiter’s recommendation – the Shiyaki Bimbimba – rice topped with mixed vegetables, pork and Korean kimchee, served in a hot-stone bowl. This was a great recommendation and definitely a highlight for everyone at the table.
Visitors and locals have their favourite, never-fail places to eat in Niseko – places you can turn up to any night of the week and feel safe in the knowledge you’ll get a seat, a drink and good meal at a reasonable price. Jam Bar ticks all of these boxes. And after dinner you can choose your own adventure: work through the cocktail list knowing that the party crowd will soon appear; move on; or retire for the evening and go home.