To the Japanese, a complete dining experience is a feast for both the palate and the senses. It usually begins from the journey itself and at the first encounter of the restaurant – be it a simple timber platform or an almost inconspicuous signage.
At the famed soba restaurant Rakuichi [楽一] in Niseko, Japan – whose name could be loosely translated as “the quintessence of relaxation and enjoyment in a momentary space” – the experience begins from a scenic drive passing farm land towards the Annupuri slopes to a hard-to-find enclave indicated by a small hand-crafted sign and the slightest hint of a humble, hand-built timber bridge.
As one step onto the bridge, one begins to savour the crisp fresh air and the beauty of the natural landscape that surround. The journey across this zig-zagged pathway is a prelude to the little rustic Japanese hut elevated on stilts where the restaurant occupies. Rakuichi's interior is homely and intimate, and it sits only 12. The vibe is raw and rustic, which contrasts against the refined elegance of its hospitality and the authentic perfection of hand-made soba made with only the best and freshest buckwheat direct from Niseko and fresh spring water by soba master Tatsuru-san.
[click here to see Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation episode on Niseko]
[photos: © angelus novus]