Using the final few hours we have left in Niseko before we head to the train station, we walked 20 mins in snow to get to this handmade soba place – Teuchi-soba Ichimura, listed as Bib Gourmand in Hokkaido‘s only Michelin guide published in 2012. The restaurant is actually only 5 mins drive away from the Hirafu centre but we chose to take a walk. We wanted to take a leisurely stroll on the snow covered path and experience having feathery snow falling lightly on us. Occasionally we would playfully sweep off the fresh snow that had accumulated on the “snow wall” formed at the side of the walkway.
At 11am sharp we arrived at our destination. I believe we were the first customers of the day as we walked into an empty hall. We picked a table near the full-height window that faces a small forest.
The attentive staff handed over an English menu to us and we ordered the Kamonanban Soba Pan-fried tender duck meat and Japanese leeks in Soba noodles and a small Tempura Rice Bowl. We would have ordered the plain cold soba to try if it is available in small portion too as we were still half-full from our morning breakfast.
It was such a bliss to slurp warm soba while staring at the scenic and peaceful forest outside. Unfortunately we soon lost our “exclusive rights” to the hall as other visitors started to stream in. Other than us, the rest of the customers are all Japanese – which goes to show that this is really quite a local place. Based on our observations, most of them ordered cold soba instead of the warm ones. We also spotted some customers eating the dark-coloured soba which is the 100% buckwheat Juwari soba which will have a distinct and stronger buckwheat taste.
Back to my duck soba, look at the layer of fats under the skin! The birds in Hokkaido certainly need the fats to keep them warm. Although I first noticed the duck meat, it was the charred negi (leek) that stole the show! The negi helped accentuate the flavours of the broth.
Before we move on to our 3rd stop for the trip, here’s a summary of all the wonderful drinks, ice-creams and beers we’ve bought from the convenience stores (konbini).
Tried a variety of drinks from dairy to coffee to chocolate and probiotic beverage. The Snow Brand’s Soft Katsugen, a lactobacillus drink, tasted fantastic (the blue one on the right of the Van Houten Cocoa). Tasted just like Peach flavoured sweet yogurt drink. Apparently you can only get the Soft Katsugen in Hokkaido. The rich Van Houten Cocoa is a staple drink that is always on my to-buy list =)
Although not pictured here, we tasted our first Calpis when dining in a restaurant here. We fell in love with the refreshing milk-based drink and started buying it as the default drink when we sees it in convenience stores in Japan. We prefer the thick version compared to the special flavoured type.
Even after returning to Singapore, we bought it from the stores selling Jap products. =)
An odd habit of mine is my love for eating ice-creams in Winter. They melt too fast when I eat them in Singapore‘s hot weather, not enough time for me to taste them slowly. Eating them in the cold somehow allows me to enjoy it at my own pace. Its a huge added bonus when the Haagen-Dazs ones are so much cheaper than SG price….Suffering from withdrawal symptoms, we replaced our Magnums with Haagen-Dazs after we are back in SG…
Although Japan is an expensive country, alcohol is another product which is cheaper than SG. Love the cute and pretty cans used by Yo-Ho Brewing for their craft beers (IPA, Belgian white ale, Pale Ale). Not only the packaging is attractive, I personally prefer these brews to lager…
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