Hokkaido Day 1: Melt Bar and Grill at Hilton Niseko Village

So after another 2.5-hours bus ride from New Chitose Airport to Niseko Village, and another 30 minutes to check in, settle down and decide where to eat, we were already starving again. Afterall, what we had at the airport was only a snack. At the time, the sushi and teppanyaki restaurants at the Hilton were closed and we weren’t going to settle for pub food (not in Japan!) at Ezo. So we quickly made our way to Melt Bar & Grill on the second floor and managed to just squeeze in our orders before their kitchen closed.

Melt Bar and Grill at Hilton Niseko Village

Melt Bar and Grill at Hilton Niseko Village

The manager at Melt was a little reluctant to seat us, but after just a little pleading and patting shoulders … we sat down and asked for a risotto to share, a bouillabaisse and Hokkaido Sirloin for each of us.

Risotto at Melt Bar & Grill

Risotto at Melt Bar & Grill

Japanese chef can cook up some pretty decent Italian food and I’m not the first guy to say that 🙂 (Check out Iron Chef Italian: Masahiko Kobe) This risotto isn’t the best I’ve had, but the rice was chewy (not too soft, not too hard), which is great. The rice was creamy and not dry. The parma ham and the cheese was a little bit overpowering in this dish, but didn’t cancel each other out.

Bouillabaisse at Melt Bar & Grill

Bouillabaisse at Melt Bar & Grill

I was a little disappointed with the size of the soup. It was served with a spoonful of shredded crab meat in an empty bowl, then the server came with a teapot and poured the seafood soup in. Fancy presentation, but too little soup! One of my most memorable experience with bouillabaisse was at Le Marche (by Movenpick) in downtown Toronto, where they piled on the mussels, clams and scallops (and copious amount of white wine and broth!). You would be full just having a bowl of that … but having a friend who worked at the seafood counter at Marche helped too.

Anyway, despite the size (and at ¥1,500!), the soup itself was actually really solid. It was very flavourful in terms of both seafood and tomato base, without either overpowering the other – just the right balance. A hint of herb added to the soup helped too …

Hokkaido Sirloin at Melt Bar & Grill, Hilton Niseko Village

Hokkaido Sirloin at Melt Bar & Grill, Hilton Niseko Village

Then came the Hokkaido Sirloin. Actually, everything came relatively quickly … I guess the staff was hurry to leave work. Even though all of the dishes came within 10-15 minutes, it came in a relatively orderly fashion.

So we wondered what a Hokkaido steak would taste like. We weren’t expecting Kobe beef, but what we had turned out to be quite similar. The northern Japanese island prides itself in their diary products, so its no surprise they take their cows seriously.

The sirloin was thinly sliced, so unlike the thick cut you would expect from Dakota Prime, where a medium / medium-rare would mean redish-pink in the center of the steak, you won’t get that here. Rather, this sirloin is soft and like the name of the restaurant suggests, it literally melts in your mouth and that’s thanks to the fine marbling found on most top-tier Japanese beef, including this one.

Marbling on Grilled Hokkaido Sirloin

Marbling on Grilled Hokkaido Sirloin

There’s so much more marbling on Japanese steak, but that’s also what makes them so special, compared to American or Australian beef (unless you’re talking about Wagyu beef from those countries, but even that has less marbling).

By the way, Melt apparently also offers buffet dinners so I’m not sure how that is. But judging from the dishes we had, the standards should be pretty high.

Enjoy!

Siu Yeh Rating: 8.5/10

Melt Bar & Grill
Hilton Niseko Village, 2/F.
Higashiyama Onsen 048-1592 Niseko N, Niseko-cho, Japan 048-1592
Tel: +81-136-441111
Fax: +81-136-443224
Email: niseko@hilton.com

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2 Responses

  1. I will stay in Hilton Niseko Village in coming August, could you adv. me any other restaurants near the hotel and the transportation between Hilton and Hirafu Village. Any pre-booking is required for summer activities and which company can be recommended?

    thanks

  2. Hey Berlinda, thanks for visiting! The closest restaurants outside of Hilton would be inside Niseko Village / Hirafu. There’s a popular restaurant operated by a group of young adults called Abucha and they serve some pretty good stuff. Please see here:

    http://siuyeh.com/2009/01/30/hokkaido-day-2-dinner-at-abucha/

    Address is:

    Abucha
    Izakaya & Bar A-Bu-Cha
    190-13 Aza-Yamada
    Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido 044-0081
    Tel: 0136 (22) 5620 (18:00~2:00)
    Fax: 0136 (23) 0245 (24hr)

    At the intersection where Abucha is, I remember there being a couple other restaurants across the street (1 is a Japanese restaurant serving udon). And if you walk up the slope from Abucha, there are a couple bars. That’s about all I remember.

    Re: Advance booking for summer activities, my guess is its best if you do … I haven’t been there for summer, so I’m probably not the best guy to ask.

    Re: Transportation between Hilton and Hirafu, there are shuttle bus services every half hour (I think) for about Y400. Again, I was there during winter, so our ski lift passes covers the shuttle bus cost. Whatever you do, and you probably know better, don’t take the cab. It’ll cost you Y4,000 for a 5 min ride between the 2 places.

    Good luck and have fun!

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