Hokkaido Day 2: Dinner at Abucha

Abucha Located at the Bottom of the Hirafu Hill in Niseko

Abucha Located at the Bottom of the Hirafu Hill in Niseko

Abucha was recommended to us by a friend (Thanks Nick!) who visited Niseko last year. It turns out the restaurant is quite a popular go-to place when you’re in Niseko / Hirafu at night. Abucha (the original restaurant) seats about 30 people with an adjacent bar that holds another 20-30 people max. All in all, its a small place but its definitely quite cozy, especially during the winter season.

The Young Team Working Around an Open Kitchen at Abucha

The Young Team Working Around an Open Kitchen at Abucha

The entire staff team is a young (early 20’s to early 30’s?), yippee,  snowboarding bunch (see Abucha’s website), bringing a very vibrant environment to the restaurant and bar. The food is also very impressive considering the team is so young … but if you’re looking for gourmet sushi and/or sashimi, then this is not the place for you. Here, you’ll find very good cooked [authentic] Japanese food such as sukiyaki, yakitoris, grilled fish, grilled chicken, fried chicken wings, cooked scallops, a mixture of sausages, clam cooked with white wine sake, among other dishes on its menu.

We started off with a Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka first, just to see what its like:

Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

This was either a Pale or a Pilsener – I’m no expert, but I’m leaning more towards a Pale. Its dry, refreshing, light, slightly bitter with a fluffy / dense head, which reminds me a little bit like that of Guinness and one that faded quickly into think white collar with every sip (See photo below).

The White Collars from Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

The White Collars from Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

Here’s a description from the beer’s poster (word for word):

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Pirkawakka means Beautiful Waters 🙂

“‘Pirkawakka means ‘Beautiful Water’ in Ainu and this word has a beautiful sound that images of Lake Shikotsu’s underground water ‘Naibetsu River’ that was chosen by the Environmental Agency as being one of the top 100 rivers of Japan.”

And here’s what we had, which I’ve just listed out:

Raw Scallops Cooked in Broth and Butter at Abucha

Raw Scallops Cooked in Broth and Butter at Abucha

This was nothing special. It was sliced scallops cooked in broth with a dab of soy sauce and block of butter. The thing is, butter only works well with scallops if it was grilled (not with soup) on a teppanyaki grill … or other grill for that matter. Once the butter melted into the soup, I couldn’t taste it … it had no caramelized butter to it which is what makes a grill scallop so good 🙂 IMHO

Edamame (枝豆) at Abucha

Edamame (枝豆) at Abucha

Edamame at Abucha. Cooked just right … you know how sometimes you get edamame thats turned a little yellowy green? That’s cooked too long … and with the sea salt sprinkled on top of these beans, its one of my favorite simple foods.

Grilled Hokkaido Chicken with Salt at Abucha

Grilled Hokkaido Chicken with Salt at Abucha

Add “Hokkaido” in front of anything food, and you’ll get the best quality and freshest food. This Grilled Hokkaido Chicken was extremely 鲜甜 (fresh and “sweet” in the Chinese sense), the skin was crispy and when dabbed into a bit of salt, this was one of the best grilled chickens I’ve ever had.

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha (Picture 2)

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha (Picture 2)

Dumpling inside a chicken wing? This is the first for me 🙂

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 1)

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 1)

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 2)

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 2)

Fresh Eggs at Abucha for the Sukiyaki

Fresh Eggs at Abucha for the Sukiyaki

The Sukiyaki was very tasty and came with a generous amount of beef, tofu and cabbage. The soup base itself was also very flavourful, but as we found out that same night during our sleep, we were really thirsty and it might have something to do with the MSG in the soup base (I think).

Clam Cooked in Sake at Abucha

Clam Cooked in Sake at Abucha

You have a choice of having clams cooked in white wine or sake. Since we were in Japan, we went for the sake version of course … but I thought it tasted similar to the white wine version. As with all broth cooked with clam (fresh clams!), the soup was the best part!

Lightly Salted Grilled Mackerel

Lightly Salted Grilled Mackerel

This was only so-so … perhaps it was sitting a little too long on the grill, but the other side of this was a little too burnt for my liking …

Mixed Sausages at Abucha

Mixed Sausages at Abucha

The sausages came in different sizes and type. Some were chicken sausages and some were pork I believe, and came mixed with herbs, pepper, chili, etc. It reminded me of Taiwanese sausage actually … and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re eating sausages on its own (i.e. not hotdogs), then German and Taiwanese franks are the best.

It wasn’t cheap though, at around ¥17,000, it was about HKD 500 per head. But if you’re in Niseko, I do believe its worth a visit, if not for the food, then the alcohol at the bar and the crowd definitely makes the experience that much better 🙂

Apparently, they also have Abucha 2 (across the street, or soon-to-be anyway) and an Abucha Bakery. If you’ve tried the latter or will try Abucha 2, I’d be interested to hear what its like!

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)

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2 Responses

  1. This is making me hungry!!

  2. I think Japan is the largest brewery country in Asia after Australia. Hokkaido produce the most beer in Japan, if I’m not wrong. I wish to go there to study the beer culture, if I’m there I sure will stop by Abucha. Cheers!

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