Join us on the blog as we embark on a new adventure, exploring great local restaurants serving up fresh seasonal fare. For the first installment of the series, we profile summer lunch at IKI Niseko with Chef Richard Robbins’ popular ‘Rainbow Buffet’ .
IKI located in the heart of Hirafu near the main intersection, offers a relaxing modern interior with an open kitchen, large picture windows and a spacious patio and dining area featuring scenic views of Mount Yōtei. The IKI team blend flavours and ingredients from across Europe and Asia to complement fresh Hokkaido produce in their meals.
Walking in after midday on a sunny Friday, we picked a nice spot on the patio where the friendly staff were waiting attentively. The summer lunch buffet, a top pick for Niseko locals, offers an assortment of fresh, seasonal creations to accompany a choice of main dish. Being a perfect summer day, I went with the lamb chop and was delighted with the tender meat complemented by flavours of Hokkaido potato, local radish, balsamic zest and whole grain mustard. My companion Patrick, a big fan of the choice range of quality homemade sausages, opted for the day’s pork and asparagus sausage and was definitely not let down. Big smiles all around.
The real superstars of the ‘Rainbow Buffet’ though are the vibrant and enticing dishes that draw you to the buffet over and over again. The raw, local vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, and green beans are on display and ready for the taking. Some also feature in the impeccably prepared couscous and pasta salad, homemade falafel, grilled eggplant, and delicate sushi rolls which also contained my favourite Japanese herb shi-so. If you’re nearing defeat at the hands of this buffet like I was, then try the Thai red beef curry for a bit of a spicy kick to get you going again.
After emptying more plates than we care to admit Pat and I weren’t sure if we could squeeze in dessert, but in the interest of providing you with a complete Rainbow Buffet experience we pushed on! And we're certainly glad we did. The Japanese-inspired green tea cake, homemade chocolate pudding and passionfruit fruit jelly are a perfect end to the meal. Pat and I both found the highlight of desert to be the soothing Yuzu gelato - a perfect companion on a nice summer’s day.
The man behind the magic at IKI is Head Chef Richard Robbins. Hailing from Portland, Oregon where he studied at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Richard has over 15 years experience plying his craft in Europe, North America and Asia. From the USA, his culinary education led him to Turin before journeying further north and working at Lake Como in Italy. Richard has spent the last 12 years living in Japan where his French and Italian background has further evolved, complimented by Japanese ingredients, cooking styles and world class seafood. During this time he has worked in Osaka, Atami and Sapporo where he sourced fresh organic vegetables from Dennis Van Den Brink (Niseko Green Farm). It was through this relationship built around fresh ingredients, quality food and the beauty of the region that led Richard and his family to IKI and Niseko.
Partner and Chef Akiko Matsumiya is the other creator who makes up the core of IKI. Akiko has previously worked at Black Diamond and is a well loved local serving up delicious seasonal fare at IKI.
1. What is your favourite ingredient you are using, and the ingredient’s place of origin?
“European Olive Oil”. Richard stocks multiple oils for use from preparing to finishing his favourite dishes. The variety and quality of oils can add subtle diversities to flavours which can often be overlooked.
2. What is your favourite pick in IKI’s summer Rainbow buffet?
“Vegetables – Niseko comes alive in summer. Local produce is packed full of flavour and the most recent picked delights from local farmers are used throughout the menu.”
3. What is your favourite place to stop for a summer treat in the area?
“Ruhiel and Niseko Gelato – Amazing fruit gelato. As a father I am always looking for great places to take the family and the intensity of the fruit flavours is enjoyed by the parents as much as the children!”
4. What is your number one Japanese Restaurant?
“Hanayoshi – The seasonal availability of fish is consistently prepared to high-standards. The best place to go for sushi in the area and my favourite Japanese restaurant.”
A big thanks to Richard and team IKI for a delicious food escape. Come experience the Rainbow Buffet for yourself this summer.
Thursday ~ Sunday 11:30 ~ 15:00
Kids (5-12 years): Half Price
Kids (0-4 years): Eat Free
For summer evenings, IKI fires up the Teppans and charcoal for unique dining events and private parties. A feature, particularly in Winter is the Robata style Irori grill, a cooking method native to Hokkaido.
Cappuccino, Latte, Juice, Beer, Wine
SHIKI NISEKO 1F
190-4 Aza Yamada