The Best Restaurants in Hakuba; As Voted by the People Who Work There
Who doesn’t love getting a tip-off from a local or seasonal employee about the best restaurants when you’re on a ski holiday? Trouble is, by the time you arrive at the resort and get a recommendation from that person on the chairlift or in the après bar, it’s too late because everything is booked out.
And let’s face it, typing “best restaurants Hakuba” into a search engine is hardly going to help you narrow down on the abundance of incredible places to eat. Many of the best restaurants don’t have a website or a Google listing. That’s why we’re passionate about personal recommendations – they’re always better. So to help you in your winter holiday preparations, we have contacted all the local foodies we know and created our own list of restaurants in the Hakuba Valley that are guaranteed to be incredible, notoriously popular with locals and seasonal staff and so good that you must make a booking in advance (and preferably by a Japanese speaker as English is not spoken as widely as in other resort areas in Japan).
These places are so consistently good and locally famous that if you are coming during a school or national holiday period… for Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Europe or the USA – then you’ll need to book. These restaurants get busy.
3020-868 Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
This izakaya is everything that an izakaya should be: mysteriously hard to locate, offering an intriguing array of local Japanese delicacies (that you’ve probably never heard of)… and in a beautiful old authentic building with a really tiny front door, so watch your head.
The food is Japanese tapas-style – small plates to share, so watch out for their fried potato salad (which will challenge everything you think you know about potato salad), seared avocado, sashimi and fried skewered meats.
4715-1 Wadano, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
Run by a Japanese couple from a homely little building in Wadano, this izakaya has a focus on fresh and quality seasonal ingredients. It’s one of those places where you should order what the chef is recommending and kick back with a selection from their excellent wine list while he weaves his magic. Watch out for the ginger pork, made with locally-sourced and world-famous Hakuba Pork.
Bookings are essential as there are only 4 – 5 tables and they are constantly booked out.
4690-2 Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
If you’re looking for an unparalleled dining experience in Hakuba, then Mimi’s should be on top of the list. Run by a local husband and wife team, the restaurant is elegant and the food is a fusion of Western, Italian and Japanese that uses only the freshest and best locally sourced ingredients.
The menu is outstanding and features their famous housemade pasta, Shinshu salmon, Shinshu beef and Shinshu game. This place has a reputation that precedes itself, so if you are headed to Hakuba and you are a foodie and lover of fine wine – then you best be making a booking ASAP. And if you happen to be in Hakuba over the festive period and you are looking for a place to have Christmas dinner, Mimi’s is the place to go. Expect pre-dinner cocktails, an exquisite 5-course meal and impeccable service to top it off.
3020-957 Hokujo, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
Another favourite on the izakaya scene with locals and large groups who prefer a relaxed atmosphere with to-die-for cuisine. Located on the Echoland strip that houses so many local favourite eateries, this place is worth the taxi fare. Make sure you check out the salmon and avocado as well as the pork belly (world-famous Hakuba Pork making another appearance here unsurprisingly).
Mansaku Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu’
4683-2 Hokujo, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
This hotel is located in the highly sought after Wadano area near the base of the mountain and is very well known for its fantastic resort-style onsen.
The restaurant is also to die for, specialising in Sukiyaki and Shabu-Shabu style food with offerings of Wagyu beef and Nagano venison.
1909-1 Hakubacho, Hakuba, Kitaazumi District, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
Sushi and seafood are not considered local cuisine to the Hakuba Valley region, and while it is obviously offered in many restaurants, it is less common to see a dedicated sushi restaurant here – which is why Kikyo-ya is so popular for people who are craving some of their sushi favourites. The atmosphere is casual and they put on arguably the best sushi and sashimi in Hakuba as well as other popular offerings like wagyu ‘shabu-shabu’. Great for large groups and families with kids.
1386-1 Hokujo Kita-Azumi-Gun Hakuba-Mura, Nagano 399-9301, Japan
We’ve written about this place before but it deserves a mention on this list too because the locals absolutely love it. A tiny little ramen house with about 15 seats at a squeeze, the chef pumps out bowl after bowl of delicious piping hot ramen, made to your liking. They have Hakuba Pork and all the local specialities you would expect in this part of Japan, but if you’re into something really interesting on your ramen, ask for the ‘chashu pork’. Mind-blowing.
Pilar Cafe & Restaurant
Top of the Happo-One Gondola
4487-12, Hokujo, Hakuba Village, Kita-Azumi gun, Nagano, Japan
A list of best restaurants would not be complete without giving you a tip-off for the best place to eat when you are skiing up on the mountain and in the Hakuba Valley, that restaurant is Pilar. Located on top of the gondola at Happo-One, this intimate venue has panoramic views that extend all the way past Tsugaike to Cortina giving you a rare opportunity to take in almost the full length of the Hakuba Valley over a delicious fine dining lunch.
The motto at Pilar is ‘local production and local consumption’, an ethos that you can literally taste in the food made from only the best locally sourced ingredients. The cuisine is Italian and the chef gives you 3-4 set menus to choose from with wine pairings depending on your hunger levels. Pilar is small and notoriously hard to get into, so make sure you plan ahead and make a booking.
Do you want to ski in the famous Hakuba powder and finish the day at one of these delicious restaurants? Mabey Ski LOVES Japan and is here to make sure every moment of your Japanese experience is as memorable as the last.
Mabey Ski’s adventure designers have travelled and skied all over the world to find the most unique and wonderful ski experiences on the planet. If you are interested in heading to Japan or anywhere else in the world for your next adventure, then we are here to show you how.