[TRAVELOGUE] HAKUBA – REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS AT DENESHI

It was all smiles for my party of 9 when our hotel van pulled up at Deneshi’s driveway. Ahead of us stood a quaint little house with warm lighting peeking through the glass windows. We stepped through the front door, and were immediately greeted by a smiling young lady who led us into the bright, cheery living space of The Yamamoto Family. img_6591The place was simply decorated, warm and homey. Old clocks, cups and cute little ornaments line the wall of our dining room decorated with green foliage, brick walls and an old fireplace. We settled in comfortably and I have not even noticed the mismatched tablecloths covering our odd L-shaped table until looking back at my photos now! I had bravely committed 9 of us to a fixed 6-course dinner without knowing what was in stored. But the many positive reviews on Trip Advisor and high recommendation from a fellow foodie friend told me we’d be in good hands. img_6587The menu, neatly scribbled on a piece of notebook paper, was simple with vague descriptions of each course.img_6594We ordered Deneshi’s house champagne to start; and polished 2 bottles before the first course arrived; then, some really good reds thereafter.

Dinner, in short, was fantastic! Chef- owner, Yamamoto San and his wife quietly cooked up a storm in the little home kitchen of theirs. The dishes were simple yet unique. There was no fancy plating, no gimmicky presentation, and no overrated exotic ingredients to impress. Instead, expect fresh produce, detailed attention and fine culinary.

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Steamed Mushroom Soup

We began with a classic, everyone’s favorite, mushroom soup, disguised as a custard pudding! The pudding was super smooth and super fine. With each spoonful slipping down your throat like silky cottony tofu… oozing earthy creamy mushroom every drop of the way. The hot steamy starter was heaven in a cup!

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Asian Inspired Salad of Tuna & Squid

The next dish, a cold salad consisting bell peppers, tomatoes, radish, tuna and squid. What’s beautiful about this salad was the subtle but aromatic sesame oil dressing. The nuttiness on the raw fish and crunchy vegetables was brilliant.

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Grilled Bamboo Shoot in Herb Sauce

I’m not crazy about the strong scent Bamboo Shoot carries. So I was a little cautious about the next dish, Grilled Bamboo Shoot in Herb Sauce. The bamboo shoot chunks were grilled tender to the bite, and sweet to the palate. Combined with fresh bitterness of leafy herbs and contrasting salty Shirasu (Japanese whitebait), this could well be the only time I’ve enjoyed this vegetable this much!

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Steamed Bream with Mushrooms

Next came the Steamed Bream with Mushrooms. The fresh bream fillet was cooked perfectly, and flakes off nicely at every poke of the chopsticks. Resting on top a bed of mixed mushrooms in thick savory sauce. The flavor was clean and uncomplicated. The sweetness of fish blended nicely with the woody mushrooms. But most importantly, the freshness of it all!

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Grilled Wagyu Beef with Japanese Sauce

Chef teased us with 4 cubes of the prized grilled Wagyu beef in our final course. Served medium rare with a couple of rice balls and sweet Japanese sauce. The meat, as expected, was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! We savored every piece in slow motion and secretly craved for an entire pound!!

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Dessert

Dessert was a grilled sweet potato ball. Toasty on the outside, smooth, sweet and creamy on the inside. The humble root was a delightful end to the meal.

We spend the rest of the evening just chatting and chilling at Deneshi’s homey dining room, while Yamamoto San joined us for drinks and a little chitchat. Despite the language barrier, the man showed friendliness and warmth towards us. And even invited his dear wife for a photo together!

It was a wonderful choice, picking Deneshi over the many other restaurants in Hakuba, to spend Christmas Eve. And if like me, you preferred unpretentious over fancy, quality over quantity, and comfort over stuffy, this would be the place for you too!

Thank you, Yamamoto San, for a wonderful experience!

Deneshi @ 〒 〒 399-9211 Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano Prefecture Hakuba-mura Shinto shrine 24193-71 Meitetsu bison village Phone: 0261-75-3909

Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post.

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