JAPAN has always had a strong culinary connection with China. Ni’s Dining on the outskirts of Hirafu (intersection of Route 631 and Route 5), is testament to this.
NI’S Dining is run by Katsutoshi Tada who was born and raised in Kutchan. He spent six years working at The Prince Hotel (now The Hilton Niseko Village), which is where he started learning Chinese cooking, and then 16 years at the Hotel Nikko in Annupuri. Last year, Katsutoshi started his own business.
We think it’s best to go with the chef’s recommendations: Yakisoba (fried noodles), Yurinchi (fried chicken with spicy soy sauce) and Sanratamen (ramen noodles in hot and sour sauce). We also order a few appetisers, or dim sum, to start.
First to arrive is the dim sum. The spring rolls are crunchy and fresh and served with a sweet sauce, and are essential to any Chinese restaurant visit. The Steamed Seafood Dumplings are served in a bamboo steamer and perfect when dipped with some soy sauce. Ni’s also serve a little Dijon mustard with its dumplings for a bit of bite.
Next to arrive is what Ni’s is fast becoming known for – bowls of beautifully made ramen. You can really taste the love in each bowl of Ni’s ramen. We are treated to Sanratamen – ramen noodles in hot and sour sauce soup. The sauce in this ramen is a little thicker and a bit spicier than usual. Egg is mixed through the sauce and is served with chicken, tofu, cabbage, spring onions and a drizzle of chili oil. With each bite, you move closer to an inevitable ramen-induced coma.
Other ramen options available include Chashyu Ramen, Tan Tan Ramen and Tan Tan Man (ramen noodles with spicy mince and a rich sesame soup – highly recommended). The bowls of ramen are around ¥850 and most meals are under ¥1000, with various lunch and dinner-set options available.
Following the ramen is the Yurinchi – fried chicken with spicy soy sauce. This is a classic Chinese style dish, but it tastes lighter and the sauce has a sour element – perhaps this is the Japanese influence coming through. Other a-la-carte options available include classic Japanese/Chinese dishes such as Crab Fried Rice, Mapodofu, Fried Noodles and Fried Prawns in Chili Sauce.
For dessert, you have to try Ni’s Chinese Pudding – apricot kernel tofu topped with dry fruits. It’s Ni’s ichiban (number-one) dessert and is made in true Hong Kong style. Other desserts include, Sesame Balls, Chinese Steamed Cake and Fried Doughnuts.
For those of you that drive past this building and wonder what’s inside, you can now imagine people devouring big bowls of steaming ramen, delicious fried Chinese dishes and creamy tofu desserts.
T. 0136 22 6646
Times: 11:30 am to 2:00 pm, 5:00-9:00pm
Intersection of Route 631 and Route 5