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A few weeks ago, I posted a write up on the best accommodation I have stayed at in my life so far, Ki Niseko. I had my very first fine dining experience at the hotel’s restaurant so I’d like to share my whole experience. This is my first full restaurant review! I usually write about food tours and just provide brief paragraphs about food that I ate during my travels so this is definitely a first!
2016 Ki Niseko Hotel Review / Experience — CLICK!
2018 Ki Niseko & Niseko Central’s Yama Shizen Hotel Review / Experience — CLICK!
I’ve always seen snow as something magical. Growing up, I would always watch Hollywood movies and TV series that have winter themes in them and be curious about it. When I experienced my first snow in Korea in 2015, I was stunned and at awe for so long. I didn’t want to go inside even if it was freezing cold. I just wanted to maximize my experience as long as I can.
I visited Niseko during the first week of December and my Korea winter experience couldn’t hold a candle to what I experienced in this popular town in Northern Japan.
Niseko has been credited as one of the best ski resorts in Japan and Asia. The quality of the powder snow is what keeps winter sports enthusiasts from around the world to come back almost every year. Most of the people I’ve talked to at this destination were Caucasians working there for the season so they could ski or snowboard during their breaks or day offs.
Surrounded by pristine white snow and views, the kid inside me was jumping for joy that I was finally experiencing that kind of snow.
During my first night, I was reserved to eat a signature course meal at An Dining – the restaurant of my hotel, Ki Niseko. I’ve never eaten in a fine dining restaurant before. My only knowledge of it is big plates with small servings being served one by one and expensive rates.
Entering An Dining, it felt very cozy. The lights were just the right amount of dim and everything looked sort of minimalist. I asked to be seated where I can see a lot of snow because I wanted to really savor the experience more by watching an amazing view with my meal(s).
The dinner started off with a few pleasantries between me and my assigned waiter. He was a Japanese local from Otaru working in Niseko. He really spoke good English so I was really grateful for that as usually it is hard to find Japanese locals who speak in complete English sentences when I am in the country.
My assigned waiter (Hiro) was really great. He introduced every course with a descriptive explanation of the ingredients and sometimes included a short background on the culture and history behind the whole meal or some of the ingredients. It was really a learning experience.
The first plate was a mix of 3 different kinds of seafood – tuna infused with vinegar, a shrimp, and a clam. Out of the 3, the tuna tasted best for me. The shrimp was okay and the clam tasted meaty.
The next dish was Kutchan tofu with pumpkin puree. Kutchan is the town where An Dining is located. The presentation looked like a white jelly drizzled with grated cheese. It looked really good. The tofu was very light and the greens were very crunchy. If you eat the ingredients separately, it just tasted normal. But when you scoop all of the ingredients together, it really tasted delicious.
The third dish as said in the signature course meal menu was supposed to be a 3 piece assortment of sashimi so I was surprised when Hiro brought me an assortment of 9.
Along with the sashimi, he served fresh wasabi. I do not eat spicy food and I was reluctant to try this as I have tasted wasabi before and it was not something I really liked. But Hiro convinced me that fresh wasabi is different and that the sashimi would taste best with it. And boy was he right! My prior taste of wasabi was nowhere near to the taste of that fresh wasabi. The sashimi did taste better with it. It tasted very fresh. My favorite sashimi of the 9 was the codfish and tuna.
While eating the sashimi, I looked outside a few times. The snow was falling down and I could see silhouettes of the snowy mountains. It was really a great sight while eating great food. I became so much more appreciative of the experience.
By this point, I was feeling 90% full! I know! I don’t know how to eat at course meals. I really paced myself and ate slowly but I still got to that percentage of fullness. When Hiro came back, I actually laughed and told him I was getting full. He was surprised and told me there would be 5 more plates. I just smiled at him but deep inside I was thinking “OMG LIMA PA!” (OMG 5 MORE!).
He left and came back with the 4th dish. He also informed me that the next dishes will have smaller servings so I can still get to taste all of the dishes without getting too full. I was really grateful for this! I didn’t want to waste any food on my plate so I really appreciated this proactive action from An Dining.
The 4th dish is a fried Hokkaido wild stingray with 3 styles of salt. I really loved the presentation of this dish. The green salt was a Matcha kind. I forgot the 2! I didn’t get to write it down. But it was okay nothing really special about the salts. The stingray tasted like pork. I liked the meaty taste of this fish.
The 5th dish was a smoked Hokkaido salmon with horse radish yogurt and beer jelly. I think this would have been a better dish if the salmon was fried but it tasted good nonetheless. It had a very strong flavor especially when you add the beer jelly.
The main dish and in my opinion the best plate of them all – slow braised Ebetsu black pork served with Kutchan mashed potato. OMG! This was the best pork I have ever tasted. It smelled so good and it melts in your mouth! I’ve never experienced pork that melted in my mouth before. Deep inside, I was cursing the F word and saying “Sarap” (Delicious) over and over again. OMG! The pork was already so good on its own but when you added the mashed potato, it was literally the best.
In the middle of eating the pork, Hiro served me a bowl of salmon caviar on Fukagawa organic Yumepirika rice and Hirame flounder stock miso soup. The rice tasted really delicious while the salmon caviar was really cool. The salmon caviar pops in your mouth. It was definitely a new food experience. The miso soup was just okay – it tasted similar to the miso soups I’ve tried in Japanese restaurants in the Philippines.
The last dish was served and I was thanking the universe that it was finally the last one because I was really 110% full by then. I just kept saying in my mind, “There’s always room for dessert!”.
I rested for about 15 minutes before eating this because I wanted to savor the taste and not force myself to eat it. The dessert which is called Snowball is a light, fluffy, plum wine marshmallow with a cheesecake center topped with white chocolate shavings. The outer part of the dessert was light but it had that melt, pop, crackle feel to it when it hits the tongue. When I tasted the cheesecake in the middle, I literally said WOW out loud. Hokkaido is known for its milk and cheese products and they have a right to because that cheesecake in the middle was definitely one of the best cheesecakes I have ever tasted.
After the course meals, I thanked Hiro and asked if I could meet the head chef. I got to meet Chef Shinichi Maeda, a celebrity chef known for using only the freshest local ingredients for his guests. He has a lot of international exposure especially in Australia where he was a long standing head chef at a Brisbane restaurant. He was really nice as I got to chat with him for a few minutes. We exchanged a few pleasantries about short backgrounds and travel experiences.
I felt really satisfied and heavy after that meal so I walked for around 30 minutes outside the hotel. The snow shower while walking was an added bonus to the fine dining experience as I realized that I had an amazing meal(s) in an equally amazing destination. The new experience and the new location was definitely making me feel like a kid filled with nothing but gratitude and fulfillment.
If you’re looking to add luxury to the already luxurious winter wonderland destination that is Niseko, definitely try the course meals at An Dining. The signature course meal costs Y8,800 or roughly P3,740+ depending on the exchange rate.
If you want something more affordable, you can also try their breakfast buffet which costs Y2,000 or roughly P800+ depending on the exchange rate. This was the best breakfast I’ve had in my life so far.
It also has the best view of Mt Yotei in the morning. I felt like I had a P5,000 meal with the scrumptious taste of the food and that amazing sunrise view.
Ki Niseko gave me the opportunity to experience the An Dining Signature Course Meal for free. I paid for the breakfast buffet worth Y2,000 (P800+). Opinions are entirely my own.
183-43 Yamada, Kutchan-cho, Abuta-gun,