If there was ever a person to help you pick out a ski holiday restaurant, it would SnowChef founder Justin Doyle, who, in his own words, has has made it his mission “to showcase the food, snow and mountain life stories of these individuals who chase the winter year upon year around the globe”. The SnowChef team have covered their adventures across a series of TV seasons – the second of which featured Japan and an eclectic mix of slopeside eateries.
While their attention has recently turned to the United States with the launch of their most recent series, we asked them to cast their minds back to their last visit to reveal a few of the gems they discovered in the land of the rising sun. With the team now eying a return to the Japan, there’s no better time to start making your way through the restaurants in their first shortlist.
Megro Restaurant and Sake Bar
A journey through Japan’s snow-covered wonderlands would be incomplete without a stopover in Tokyo, a city where tradition meets modernity in the most captivating way. Amidst the bustling streets and neon lights, you’ll find Megro Restaurant and Sake Bar, a hidden gem that offers a delectable taste of Japan’s culinary culture with a quirky spin.
The menu at Megro is a celebration of maguro (Tuna), with every dish paying homage to Japan’s culinary heritage with this fish. Megro provide exclusive cuts of maguro as they purchase the whole Tuna fish. From sashimi so fresh it practically melts in your mouth to perfectly cooked tail steak, through to the stew with welsh onion . The skilled chefs at Megro take great pride in using the finest ingredients, ensuring that each plate is a work of art.
No visit to Megro is complete without indulging in their extensive selection of sake. The sake bar is a treasure trove of Japan’s beloved rice wine, featuring a curated collection that showcases the diversity and complexity of this traditional beverage. Whether you’re a seasoned sake connoisseur or new to the world of sake, the knowledgeable staff can guide you to the perfect pour.
Megro Restaurant and Sake Bar in Tokyo is certainly a different must-visit destination for those embarking on a snow and food-infused holiday in Japan. It’s a place where the rich tapestry of Japan’s culinary traditions unfolds in every dish and every sip. As you transition between the snowy slopes and the vibrant streets of Tokyo, let the quirky Megro be your gateway to an unforgettable culinary experience.
103 Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan 113-0033
When it comes to discovering the heart and soul of a village, there’s no better way than through its local cuisine. Sakura Restaurant in Madarao, Japan, is a hidden treasure cherished by both locals and snow enthusiasts. Owned and operated by a delightful Japanese couple hailing from Hiroshima, this charming eatery is a must-visit for anyone exploring the culinary wonders of the Madarao region.
At the heart of Sakura Restaurant’s menu lies the star of the show – Okonomiyaki. This savoury delight is often described as a cross between an omelette and a pancake, but it’s a unique dish with a flavour profile that’s truly one-of-a-kind. The word “okonomiyaki” itself translates to “cooked as you like it,” and that’s precisely what you can expect here. Every bite is a symphony of flavours and textures, customizable with a variety of toppings and fillings.
For anyone embarking on a culinary adventure in Madarao, a visit to Sakura Restaurant is an absolute must. Okonomiyaki is a beloved Japanese comfort food, and experiencing it in a place so deeply rooted in local culture is an opportunity not to be missed. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply seeking an authentic taste of Japan, Sakura Restaurant promises an unforgettable dining experience.
Address: 〒949-2223 Niigata, Madarao, Tarumoto, 1101-10
Amidst the snow-covered landscapes of Hakuba, Japan, Takahashike stands as a testament to the power of authentic family-run eateries. This unassuming gem specializes in two beloved Japanese staples: ramen and gyoza. For those seeking a genuine taste of Japan with a side of heart-warming hospitality, a visit to Takahashike is an essential stop on your culinary journey through the mountains.
The ramen at Takahashike is a revelation. The steaming bowls of savoury broth, tender noodles, and carefully selected toppings are nothing short of a culinary masterpiece. Whether you opt for the rich and hearty tonkotsu ramen or the delicate and aromatic shoyu ramen, you’re in for a taste sensation that will warm your body and soul after a day on the slopes.
No visit to Takahashike is complete without indulging in their delectable gyoza. These pan-fried dumplings are crispy on the outside, bursting with flavourful fillings on the inside, and perfectly complement the ramen. The gyoza here are a labour of love, handcrafted with precision and care.
Takahashike isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a portal to the soul of Hakuba. The warm smiles of the family members, the aroma of simmering broth, and the comforting flavours of the dishes all combine to create an unforgettable dining experience. It’s a place where you can taste the authenticity of Japanese cuisine while feeling like a part of the local community.
Takahashike’s main claim is that you’ll often find many a local and expat Chef dining in on their day off. That there, tells you how good this establishment is.
Address: 3020-316 Hokujo Kita-Azumi-Gun Hakuba-Mura Nagano Japan
In the charming village of Nozawa Onsen, Japan, Tanuki is a culinary oasis that beckons travellers and locals alike to experience the art of Japanese cuisine. This intimate restaurant is a testament to the beauty of simplicity, where the focus is on authenticity, quality, and the joy of savouring every bite.
At Tanuki, the menu takes the form of omakase, a culinary journey where the chef curates a series of dishes based on the freshest ingredients of the day. Each course is a delightful surprise, showcasing the seasonality and flavours of the region. From sashimi adorned with delicate edible flowers to expertly grilled seafood, every dish is a masterpiece.
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One of the highlights of dining at Tanuki is the opportunity to savour the bounties of Nozawa Onsen. The region is renowned for its pristine waters and fertile soil, which produce some of the finest ingredients in Japan. Tanuki’s dedication to sourcing local and seasonal ingredients ensures that you experience the true essence of Nozawa in every bite.
Address: 9285 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen, Shimotakai District, Nagano 389-2502, Japan
Haus St.Anton Restaurant
In the heart of the enchanting village of Nozawa Onsen, nestled amidst the snowy wonderland of Japan’s mountain regions, lies Haus St.Anton, a culinary gem that offers more than just a meal—it provides an unforgettable dining experience. This unique restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Kensaku Katagiri, a former professional skier who has translated his passion for the slopes into a culinary journey that’s as thrilling as the runs down the mountains.
One of the hallmarks of Haus St.Anton is its ever-evolving menu that mirrors the changing seasons. Chef Katagiri’s commitment to using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients ensures that each dish bursts with freshness and flavour.
The restaurant’s interior exudes an alpine charm that instantly transports diners to a cosy mountain chalet. The warm wood accents and dimmed lighting create an ambiance that’s both inviting and intimate. It’s a place where you can unwind after a day on the slopes and relish the warmth of good company and delectable food.
Address: 9515 Toyosato, Nozawaonsen, Shimotakai District, Nagano 389-2502, Japan
The Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho
Sapporo, Japan, is a city known for its stunning snowscapes and rich culinary traditions. Amidst this winter wonderland, food enthusiasts and ramen lovers alike flock to the Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho, an iconic destination that pays homage to one of Japan’s most beloved comfort foods: ramen.
Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho, translated as “Sapporo’s Original Ramen Alley,” is a culinary mecca for anyone with an affection for this savoury noodle dish. Tucked away in the heart of Sapporo, this bustling alleyway is lined with ramen shops, each with its unique style and flavour profile.
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Each ramen shop within Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho is a testament to authenticity and tradition. The chefs here take their craft seriously, often using secret recipes passed down through generations. Every bowl of ramen is a labour of love, crafted with precision and a deep understanding of the art of noodle making.
As you wander through the narrow alley, you’ll be enveloped in the vibrant atmosphere of food lovers indulging in their favourite bowls of ramen. The bustling energy, the aroma of simmering broth, and the sounds of slurping noodles create a unique and immersive dining experience.
Ganso Sapporo Ramen Yokocho is not just about food; it’s an exploration of Sapporo’s culinary soul. It’s a place where you can immerse in the flavours of Hokkaido, experience the warmth of its people, and understand the role of ramen in Japanese culture. Each bowl tells a story of craftsmanship and dedication, making it a must-visit for those seeking a taste of Sapporo’s heart.
Address: 〒064-0805 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Minami 5 Jonishi, 3 Chome−8
Nagano Prefecture, with its pristine natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, is a treasure trove of culinary traditions waiting to be discovered. Among these traditions, one stands out: Oyaki, a local dish that encapsulates the essence of Nagano’s culinary heritage. And at the heart of this culinary journey lies Irohado Co, a café that invites you to enjoy the flavours of Oyaki while rekindling the warmth of tradition.
Oyaki, deeply rooted in Nagano Prefecture’s history, is a dish that speaks to the region’s heritage. Traditionally made by wrapping seasoned vegetables and wild plants in a flour or buckwheat flour skin and grilling them, Oyaki was a staple food and snack enjoyed in Nagano’s homes. At Irohado Co, you have the unique opportunity to savour this time-honoured dish.
At Irohado Co, Oyaki isn’t just a dish; it’s an exploration of Nagano’s culinary treasures. The café offers a variety of Oyaki fillings, from classic combinations to inventive twists that reflect the seasons and local flavours. It’s a delightful journey for your taste buds and a reminder that the best meals often come from humble origins. As you explore Nagano’s breathtaking landscapes and cultural wonders, make sure to include a visit to Irohado Co in your itinerary.
Address: 1687-1 Kinari, Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture 381-4393
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