You go to Japan for the powder, right? Sure, if you can ski or snowboard. Our family ski trip to Myoko Kogen was booked long before I tore my ACL in Thredbo which means they ski and I eat.
Lucky for me Japan is known for some of the best food going, and Myoko Kogen is no exception. While they take on the slopes that I long for, I drown my sorrows with food. Good food.
Here’s one dining day in my Akakura ski resort life this season.
Best coffee and breakfast for all
I have dragged my kids all over cities looking for a decent coffee, not so in Akakura Onsen ski resort. It was less than ten minutes of searching and I believe I nailed it. Sitting below The Address Akakura Hotel on the small but cute main drag in Myoko Kogen is the relatively new Scandi look Akakura Cafe.
Cafe by day and wine and whiskey bar by night, the interior is more Sydney than Japanese but the coffee aroma and the freshly baked goodies are a winner. You can be a hipster and have your tumeric or sticky chai latte and of course there is soy/almond so the vegans are covered but this place is definitely coffee driven.
The menu is small but it is packed and the food (which has gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and regular options) is hoovered down by those around me. The coffee is strong and creamy without bitterness, so if you are like me that will tickle you pink. Looks like they have some great Napa Valley Cab Sav and some interesting whiskey if that’s your thing.
Need more caffeine? Also try the AllPress at Powder Recon, flat whites at Panorama Cafe and Full Circle Snowsurf Cafe.
The best squid ink udon in Myoko Kogen
The Japanese seem to have this slight obsession with combining their food culture with another. There are many examples of French Japanese cross cuisine and plenty of restaurants that specialise in just that, but a local hole in the wall underneath another restaurant in Myoko Kogen has caught my eye.
Run by a husband and wife team who must be in there early seventies, Udon No-Fu (585-83 Oaza Akakura) is akin to entering someone’s living room. After clambering down some stairs you enter a tiny space that is jammed packed with all sorts of paraphernalia (including those bloody clip on koalas).
The television plays a Japanese game show, there are two eight seater tables almost on top of one another and one traditional small table which has hot pot bubbling away. Having been handed an English menu I gratefully but poorly say thank you in Japanese.
Squid Ink Udon with cheese and garlic. Well who would have thought that was a good combination but I am intrigued and so order it I do.
My lovely hostess brings me a bib and then a piping hot bowl of black liquid with shredded seaweed is placed in front of me. The aroma is divine and while my eyes are doubting the taste, my nose says go for it.
I must have said “oh my god this is good” about ten times before being told we heard you the first time but the salty squid ink with the heat from creamy garlic and just a touch of melted cheddar was a wow moment.
After diving in, slurping noodles and drinking the soup I am thankful for the bib. I have managed to spray black liquid everywhere including all over my face much to the amusement of my fellow diners.
I must confess I am not usually a fan of udon noodles, they always leave me feeling heavy in the stomach but these hand made udon slip down with an elegant lightness and leave you wanting more.
Trust me if you find yourself in Akakura Onsen, it is a must do. My test is plate licking and Udon No Fu had my head in the bowl.
After dark drinking and dining
I have to admit when I first arrived in Myoko Kogen and we drove into Akakura Onsen I was a little underwhelmed. On the surface it appeared to be one street with a t-junction at the end, a handful of rental stores, a few restaurants and some bars. Not quite the ski town and not a traditional looking Japanese village.
Always the optimist I drill Matt from Myoko Snow Sports on his ideal night out in Akakura. He reassures me there is loads of fun options, amazing food and fun bars for apres. The sceptic in me believes he is being politically correct in his place of employment but as I meander the streets later and follow a few of his tips I get why people are talking about the Myoko area.
Obviously you come here for the mountains of fresh powder that seem to be delivered almost nightly but it’s village life is a quirky mix of local and international run businesses that, in it’s rambling mismatched architectural collection, just gets better every time. From Japanese BBQ, to authentic ramen, udon and yakitori restaurants to bars that specialise in baked sweet potatoes it has a lot going on.
Each night we venture somewhere new and tonight it is bar hopping before some vegan Japanese at Shibata. Which oddly specialises in Wagyu beef bbq. Go figure.
We hustle into Skate Bar, aptly named for the skate ramp to the side of the bar. A table of thirsty 20 somethings in the middle of the ramp happily playing uno and slamming back happy hour drinks.
The bar is busy and there is a lot of chat about which runs, the snow condition, the snow that is coming and who is riding where. There is a friendliness amongst this tribe and everyone is in. The bar staff keep pouring and soundtrack starts to pump, our night has begun.
From Skate Bar we head to Avaya, it’s just opening at 6pm and so seems a little quiet in comparison. The bar only seats 10 people but the smell of the baked sweet potato has my mouth watering. There are two types to choose from Annou Imo or Sweet Maroon and so we flip a coin and end up with the Annou Imo.
A cold sake that is dry and not to sweet is the perfect match, again who would have thought but it was fabulous. Within 10 minutes the seats are all taken and the queue has begun. Having had our hit I feel we need to allow others to indulge and so we give up our seats and head outside.
The Myoko Kogen streets are filling with people moving from bar to bar, the kebab truck has a queue and the smell of hot crepes fills the air. So much snow and everyone is happy, we do a little dance and congratulate ourselves on a great start to the night and head to Shibata for vegan Wagyu, or not.