In February 2011, celebrity chef and food travel guru Anthony Bourdain brought his TV show “No Reservations” to Niseko to discover the local delights. His show which airs in some 80 countries worldwide featured a small hidden away restaurant of only 12-seats called Raku-Ichi, located in Annupuri just down the road from Niseko.
No doubt, he was impressed by arguably the best soba (buckwheat noodle) in the area made by Raku-Ichi’s soba master Rai-san. Located just below Annupuri Village, Raku-Ichi with its small dining counter offers a truly authentic Japanese experience with a selection of artistic dishes carefully crafted using fresh ingredients of the season
Our taxi turned into the small driveway of Raku-Ichi and once we trudged through the deep powdery snow to the rear of the property, we encountered the small restaurant deeply adorned by freshly fallen snow.
Inside the restaurant, all are requested to removed their shoes, and use the slippers provided. Seated inside the already crowded waiting room, there is an air of calmness and anticipation. No reservations, and again only 12-seats at the counter means it can be a long wait for your meal.
Finally we were invited to our seats by the owners wife, as the previous customers left. A simple menu of soba, hot or cold, served either traditionally on its own or with a hot duck soup and tempura spring onions.
We opted for the cold soba with hot duck soup, and the hot soba in hot duck broth with a side of tempura vegetables.
Chef Rai does not prepare anything in advance of his customers apart from the soba dough. As we ordered, he rolled the dough from its dough shape into the soba noodles, peeled and cut the vegetables for the tempura and then started to cook our lunch. Be prepared, lunch alone takes approx 1.5 hours from being seated at the counter to leaving, but then again, he’s is called a Master Chef for a good reason.
Fantastic dining experience and worth the travel and wait.
Sobatei Raku-Ichi, Annupuri, Japan
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