AT Pirka, the focus is not on an extravagant performance but on the simplicity of flavours and fresh seasonal ingredients.
In the picturesque confines of The Hilton Niseko Village, Chef Yamamoto, practices a refined and beautiful form of teppanyaki that stays true to the essence of Japanese cooking – simplicity. The décor and ambience are also testament to this. There are only 10 seats at Pirka, which are positioned next to the grill and look out through wide glass windows.
To start, Chef Yamamoto takes us through the Tsuki Course – there are three courses to choose from as well as an a-la-carte menu. As the first dish arrives (a small bowl of soybean tofu), Chef Yamamoto explains the restaurant’s desire for using only fresh seasonal produce to provide naturally intense flavours. Each ingredient is then only seasoned slightly by a selection of salts (natural, charcoal, seaweed, rosemary, garlic and chilli) and oils (Italian, Greek and Cypriot).
The first grilled dish is sautéed herb tiger prawns with seasonal vegetables. Each prawn is placed on the grill and meticulously deveined and cooked to perfection. Chef Yamamoto’s fluid movements and precision knife skills exude elegance and efficiency. A dusting of chilli salt brings out the flavour of the prawns.
Next in line is a plate of juicy scallops and fleshy pieces of king crab. The king crab is grilled first and looks plump and is coral red and white in colour. Once cooked, it’s neatly lined up to the side while the succulent Hokkaido ‘Nemuro’ scallops are cooked for just seconds on each side and then dressed with a rich creamy sea urchin and seaweed sauce – a definite highlight of the meal.
The Country Style Vegetable Salad is a welcome palate cleanser after the creaminess of the sea urchin dressing. It’s also the perfect prelude to grilled wagyu steak.
Chef Yamamoto cuts the steak into bite-size cubes whilst on the grill and then serves the steak with three kinds of sauce and a stir-fried beansprout dish.
Our stomachs are nearly at capacity when the garlic fried rice and small bowl of miso soup arrive.
After a day of exploring the slopes, you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting this in. The same can be said for dessert – a selection of petit fours.
Dining at Pirka is an impressive experience. Taking up one of its ten seats makes you feel pretty special. The restaurant’s location is also stunning. Its interior is simply sleek and dark and allows you to focus on what’s important – the wonderful flavours of fresh ingredients.