Hakuba Food and Nightlife Review
Written by Jack Lee • Last updated Aug 25, 2017
On the Mountain
Get ready for some gastronomic delights at altitude, because whichever ski resort you’re at in Hakuba Valley there’s almost always a restaurant high up on the mountainside! For Goryu and Hakuba 47, you have Restaurant ALPS 360, offering a range of curries, rice and pork dishes, chicken burgers, salmon sandwiches, along with other cafeteria-style choices. Overall it’s reasonably priced, buy your ticket from a vending machine and try to get a table next to a window if you can!
For an altogether more extravagant (and pricier) option, Pilar in Happo One is as close as you’ll get to fine dining on the mountains in Hakuba Valley. Imported wines, three-course meals, polite table service, even slippers to change into if you want to take your boots off! You’ll find mainly European fare on the menu, Italian and French dishes with a few Japanese favorites too, but meals here do cost a pretty penny so it’s perhaps not the best choice for a family meal.
Now over to Iwatake and Restaurant Sky Arc, where it’s back to noodle bowls, pasta, curries, and soups. It’s a quintessential Japanese mountain restaurant, but there is some western cuisine available, particularly pasta dishes. In Tsugaike, at the top of Gondola Eve, is Cafeteria Tsuga-no-mori, where we recommend sampling the katsu curry, a pork fillet covered in crispy panko breadcrumbs on a bed of rice with a ginger and soy curry sauce! If that doesn’t take your fancy then give the miso ramen noodles a go, they’re also very tasty. Finally, over to Cortina, where unfortunately there are no dining options high up on the mountain. Luckily this resort makes up for it with an excellent pizza restaurant at the Green Plaza hotel at the base of the slopes, where you can choose all your own toppings! Or just relax at the Italian café with a few slices of heaven.
Off the Mountain
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Hakuba Valley, there’s something for everyone here, with some amazing dining experiences on offer if you’re prepared to go out of your way! Many of the best restaurants, for both value and quality food, can be found in the Hakuba Village area, while some of the outlying ski resorts mainly rely on nearby hotels to cater for tourists. Wherever you find yourself, the authentic Japanese food is always going to be top notch!
A local favorite you must visit at least once during your trip is Ooshimo in Hakuba Village, an understated and traditional Japanese restaurant offering up delicious cheap eats. It’s a quiet place where you can enjoy a vast array of local dishes, from mackerel with miso sauce to prawn tempura. Another restaurant not to miss is Miyama, also in Hakuba Village. This delightful yakiniku restaurant serves fine cuts of raw meat for you to barbecue at your table, and gets very busy so it’s advisable to book ahead!
For some of the finest sushi and sashimi in Hakuba Valley make a reservation at Kikoya, close to Hakuba train station. Sit at the bar and you’ll see the friendly talented chefs delicately prepare your fresh raw fish! If you want to dive headfirst into the wild world of Japanese cuisine, the widest range of dishes are usually found at an izakaya restaurant. One of the best in Hakuba Valley can be found in Happo Village, named Sharaku, located within the Springs Hotel. Order a bunch of different plates, from wagyu steak to tofu, and share with your fellow diners! This place is also the perfect venue for some sake tasting, with an extensive list of different varieties to choose from.
If your bed isn't calling after dinner, Hakuba Valley has you covered! The après-ski options are varied enough to easily keep you entertained all week, but be warned that outside of the Happo One ski resort you’ll find few if any real late night venues. Here are a few of the best pubs and bars in Hakuba Valley, but there are many more out there for you to find!
Let’s start in Goryu, at a cool little joint called Tracks Bar, where you can throw back a few cold ones and shoot some pool. Enjoy the friendly atmosphere and maybe even some live music if there’s a band playing when you visit! Moving along to the Echoland area in Happo One, if there’s one place you shouldn't miss it’s Mockingbird, with its quirky wooden design and fun atmosphere. The laid-back bartenders here know how to mix a mean cocktail!
To really kick off a big night, a trip to the Hakuba Brew Pub over in Iwatake should be your first call. It’s right next door to the Hakuba Brewing Company, where all sorts different craft beers are created for your drinking pleasure. It’s the only ski-in/ski-out brew pub in Japan, which is enough of a reason to visit by itself!
Once the witching hour approaches it’s time to head back towards Happo Village, where there’s a handful of late night venues to keep you partying into the night. Jack’s Sports Bar is a firm favorite in the resort, where there’s always something happening, from karaoke and game nights to live music and 80s discos! If there’s one place you can count on being open into the early hours it’s Recovery Bar, which always has DJs and drinks specials to keep you on the dance floor!