27 2013 Dec

First Rides and Izakaya

Japan, NisekoTagged annupuri, cabin, california snow, friendly, karabina, powder, service

It was Friday and rather than waiting for my buddy’s friends to get into Niseko, we were off to the mountain to ride. There was no way we were going to pass up the powder that’s been dumping all night long. However, the temperature wasn’t holding up and the powder, dare I say, felt like California powder. Not that it was a bad thing but we came here for Niseko powder. You know the light fluffy kind which can get knee high yet still you plow down the runs like it were nothing. That’s the stuff we were looking for. Not bad though. We spent all of the day on the Annupuri area finding small stashes of powder in the trees. The top was closed so we couldn’t traverse over to the other resorts. Bummer. Day one and our All Mountain Pass was under utilized. Gotta make up for it by the only way I know how, by eating good.

We did a little Googling and found some tips, the best one being from this site Silverspoons & Chopsticks. They had a place called Karabina at the top of the list, which happens to be down the street from our hotel. We took a chance and scored. Thanks fellow bloggers/writers.

This little place was tucked right by the road leading into the Annupuri resort. Looks like a little cabin and its intention on making you feel warm and cozy worked like a charm. First you arrive down stairs in a little shoe area no larger than a big closet. You swap out your snow dredged shoes for some house slippers. Ahh, amazing how good that feels. Then you walk upstairs into the fireplace warmed room. Take a seat in the various make shift tables and be prepared for some great food. Yes, it’s izakaya but no, it’s not all about skewers. Only simple well crafted dishes that compliment this cold climate. What might that be like? Well, check out the pictures. I wanted to cover how local this shop was in relation to the big fancy ones around Hirafu. There’s only a small team running the place. And they care about their customers. Dishes came out one after another with either the waiter/waitress or the chef explaining the dish. We were never left wondering what to do. Yes, some foods do need instructions. And it’s a little worrisome that most of the time they are in the back preparing your food. Something you’ll have to accept being such a local shop. However, the most memorable thing was our ride home. We were less than a mile away from the hotel, but it was storming. We asked to see if they can call us a cab, but they said no need. They can drive us back. How awesome is that?? Now that’s good people.

431-4 Niseko
Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido, Japan 048-1511
+81 136-50-2850

Verdict: Definitely coming back here even if I’m staying over in Hirafu.

Smoked Duck @Karabina

Home smoked duck with some mustard and salt. So simple and so... Japanese? You know what? I don't care, this was great. It's enough smoke to keep the duck flavors rich without masking any flavors. It's a keeper, though it's a pretty small dish ¥700JPY

Ox Impressions: 

Steamed Asari Clams in Sake @Karabina

I have to take the blame for the bad photo. Needs better shots of the clams. But in my defense, I was in dire need of a soup and this stuff was good. The little clams pack a lot of flavor and somehow, the broth had a very umami taste to it, making it my favorite dish of the night. Not to mention it single handedly cured my cold, or so I wish. ¥700JPY

Ox Impressions: 

Wall of Sake

Unfortunately I was still too sick to try one of these out. And no, alcohol wouldn't have helped my cough. I've tried that several times this week. Nada.

Foil Roasted Lily Bulbs @Karabina

Now these are interesting. When I first looked at these I thought they'd have the texture of an onion. So far from it. It's more like a potato, delicate potatoes. It's lightly seasoned and sort of a palette cleanser. Try it if you haven't had this before. ¥600JPY

Ox Impressions: 

Sake Chazuke @Karabine

Closing off the meal was salmon tea rice. They send this over to you "dry" and let you pour in the tea. Perfect for a sick person as I kept my bowl endless with pour after pour. Maybe this was my cure? Nah, I prefer the clam soup. ¥650JPY

Ox Impressions: 

The OxPosted December 27, 2013 By the hungry ox

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