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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Dakota Prime

THE. BEST. STEAK. EVER. PERIOD.

Yes, it was better than Morton’s Steakhouse.

Yes, it was better than the Steak House at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

Yes, it trumped all my other experiences involving steak.

And yes, the bill also topped the list.

Dakota Prime is not your average Steak and Seafood restaurant. I went there tonight with high expectations (I haven’t had a chance to come back since its grand opening) and the experience had probably exceeded my expectations.

Let’s get right down to business.

We started off with 1.5 dozens of “White Pearl” oysters (I arrived late, so I didn’t make that order and hence, I don’t know where these oysters originated from). They were really fresh … but most importantly, they was paired with a very fruity sauvignon blanc, which the waiter had recommended. I later asked for the bottle (so I can take a picture) and found out it is called Highfield from Marlborough, New Zealand! You can’t go wrong with white wine coming from that region … it almost tastes the same as Cloudy Bay.

Oysters from Dakota Prime

Oysters from Dakota Prime

New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc

Then came the Dakota Green Salad, which was dressed with the right amount of vinigrette and it also came with fried cheese around it (pictured). Dad had a lobster bisque (pictured). I can’t tell you how that was, but from what he told me, it was damn good.

Dakota Green Salad

Dakota Green Salad

Lobster Bisque at Dakota Prime

Lobster Bisque at Dakota Prime

Dad was on a roll tonight and went for a grilled lobster (pictured) before his steak even arrived. We all dug in and it was really juicy … again, grilled to perfection.

Grilled Lobster at Dakota Prime

Grilled Lobster at Dakota Prime

And finally came the reason why I was there tonight: 21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at 14 oz or 380 g. Apparently, they’re also branded as “Meyer’s 100% Natural Angus USDA Nebraska Beef”, which is “Fully Traceable From Farm to Table, No Hormones and No Antibiotics” (pictured)

21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at Dakota Prime

21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at Dakota Prime

My brother had the “Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef ‘Gold Label'” with Bms of 8-12 at 14 oz or 380 g (pictured).

Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef "Gold Label"

Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef "Gold Label"

The steaks were paired with Cabernet Sauvignon called Unity from Napa’s Fisher Vineyard. Very smoky / oaky, dry and quite smooth (easy to down) and doesn’t leave much of an after taste, which I like.

Wine List (Wine by the Glass) at Dakota Prime

Wine List (Wine by the Glass) at Dakota Prime

We ordered 2 Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle sauce (pictured) as side dishes for our steaks, but we later found out that these “side dishes” are meant to be shared. They came in a pan and the 1 portion is enough for 2 … (at HK$60 for a side dish, they better be!). We thought they’d be a small scope of Mac & Cheese next to your steak. If you are going to visit the restaurant, here’s an advice: Don’t order 2 of the same sides dishes!

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Sauce

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Sauce

After all that, we couldn’t handle dessert so we called it a night.

It was definitely not cheap, but it was very satisfying. For:

  • 18 “White Pearl” oysters
  • 3 glasses of New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 bottles of Voss still water (800ml / bottle)
  • 3 glasses of Napa Valley Fisher Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 Lobster Bisque
  • 1 Dakota Green Salad
  • 2 Meyer 14 oz NY Strip
  • 1 Snake River 14 oz Rib Eye
  • 2 Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle sauce
  • + 10% service charge

The damage came to HK$ 5,600. Ouch. But it was so good.

Siu Yeh Rating: 10/10

Dakota Prime
7/F., LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2526 2366
Fax: +852 2526 3626
Website: www dot dakotaprime dot hk
Email: info@dakotaprime.hk

Dakota Prime Now Open in Hong Kong!

Edit: New Entry on Dakota Prime (December 5, 2008)
The talk of the town last night was the grand opening of Dakota Prime, a steak house … that apparently isn’t really a steak house. Their slogan is “Hong Kong’s first ‘Anti-steakhouse’ steakhouse” and when I asked what that really means, the simple answer I got was: “Well … we serve seafood too”
The poor branding didn’t stop the crowd from checking out this new restaurant, which falls under the Prive Group portfolio.
I got in at around 9:30 and was satisfied to find that there was a free flow of most alcoholic beverages; champagne, red wine, white wine, branded water, etc. and the servers were very attentive to making sure everyone had a full glass of whatever they were drinking. A sign that their service is equally as attentive when they restaurant begin operating? Perhaps, let’s wait and see 🙂
Dakota Prime Grand Opening Invitation
Dakota Prime Grand Opening Invitation
Grand Opening at Dakota Prime

Grand Opening at Dakota Prime

Chefs at Dakota Prime

Chefs at Dakota Prime

View from my Seat

View from my Seat

What’s even more impressive is that the restaurant was serving steaks and mini-burgers (with mini steaks inside) for tasting, which I can only smell and hear about … but never tasted. The restaurant was so packed that I can only hear about how good the steak was, without ever setting my eyes on them. Rumors began to spread that guests were infiltrating the kitchen so get their hands on the first pieces of beef that comes off the grill.

Alas, the free-flow champagne got the better of me … but that’s because I had an empty stomach.

Now I know when “Kobe” and “Wagyu” is overused and tried, you need to come up with other places that serve “fine beef” and I’m guessing that is where “Dakota” comes into play. In any case, it looks like Dakota Prime is off to a good start. They did especially well with hiring those 2 hotties who dealt with the guest list last night by the VIP lift.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is acquainted with one of the investors of Dakota Prime.

Dakota Prime
7/F., LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2526 2366
www dot dakotaprime dot hk