THE original Sekka restaurant was one of modern-day Niseko’s first really chic eateries. Now a brand name encompassing everything from delicatessens to uber-luxury property developments, Sekka’s new restaurant, in the stylish new J-Sekka complex, has helped take the local restaurant scene to new heights. Now it’s not only very elegant, but the food has taken it to a sublime new level with the arrival of some great new talent in the kitchen in Katherine Bont and Kim Wejendorp. Kat and Kim spent the past decade travelling the world, working in a variety of top restaurants and sampling exotic cuisine. Their influence convinced the public to vote Sekka Dining best restaurant in Powderlife’s Best of Niseko Awards this year for the first time.
From the moment you enter Sekka, you are immediately aware it is something different. Set in a large vaulted basement space, diners first wind their way down into a glowing lobby, passing a life-size print of two sumo wrestlers entangled mid-battle, before entering the restaurant. A mezzanine level above overlooks the central main dining space. In one corner is a floor-to-ceiling glass fronted wine cellar, and a projector shoots grainy old Japanese film footage onto one wall.
At our table, exquisite large Reidel glasses – not common in Japanese dining, and probably unknown anywhere else in Niseko – complement the excellent wine list. We ordered a glass of the Alkoomi Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, and to accompany it some fresh homemade flatbread dipped in olive oil and fresh aromatic dukkah, something I had previously eyed off in the attached deli.
Sekka has always had Italian-Japanese fusion influences, but this season Kat and Kim have worked hard to source exquisite Hokkaido delicacies, and prepare them with a variety of imaginative techniques. We were finding it difficult to choose a starter, they all looked so enticing. Kat helped us with our decision, recommending the hamachi (yellowtail) cured with sake and served with scattered Hokkaido green olives, capers and wisps of saffron. The dish was light and delicate and the combination of flavours worked to enhance the hamachi. The other starter we tried was a renowned favourite (pictured right) – large, plump Hokkaido scallops (hotate) served with nearby Otaru cherry blossom wood-smoked chunks of bacon, seared soya bean and bean puree. A unique and exquisite combination of flavours. I closed my eyes while eating it to savour the experience.
For the second course, we chose a delicate linguini with fresh Hokkaido crab. The subtle taste of chili was evident, but with Kim’s deft touch, it was by no means over-powering. Our second entree of grilled prawns served on soft white polenta, Okhotsk rind and braised beans was also brilliantly constructed.
For the main, I again opted for hamachi – this time pan-roasted – served with Niseko potato, negi, cabbage and saffron citronette in a balanced, tasteful and elegant ensemble. My partner predictably ordered Sekka’s renowned slow-cooked Tokachi beef cheek, which was as good as he remembered from last year. Both dishes, we agreed, were excellent.
We finished the meal off with a refreshing scoop of pure mandarin sorbet and a hazelnut brittle with burnt-orange caramel sauce – a delightfully sweet end to an indulgent evening.
Prices at Sekka were fair, considering the quality ingredients, unique creations, and excellent service. Most dishes ranged between ¥2000-3000.
For contact details, opening hours and directions go to: www.powderlife.com/restaurants.