The Rusutsu ski resort in Hokkaido is very popular with tourists during ski season from late December to February. To be successful, a resort needs to have not only good snow but also good food. At Rusutsu you are spoilt for choice as there are many restaurants of many genres available. As first time visitors here, we found out the hard way that there are ways to make your stay more enjoyable and we will share these tips with you at this end of this post. For now, we will deal first with the important topic of our dinner at the Kazahana restaurant.
The Rusutsu Resort is spread out over a large area. Accomodation-wise, the guest-rooms and restaurants are concentrated around two areas, the Tower and the North-South Wing. The Kazahana restaurant is located on the second level of the Tower block. It is a large, simply decorated restaurant serving traditional Japanese food kaiseki style at dinner time. There are a la carte choices but the better choice is to go for one of the fixed price course meals, the most basic of which was the “anti-aging” set course. If you have booked a room that includes dinner, this is what you are entitled to, otherwise you pay about 4,500 yen for the meal. The are more expensive options, but we settled on this basic course meal. Our expectations were not high as this was the lowest priced set meal. But it turned out to be more than adequate and was quite beautifully presented.
The appetizer was an assortment of small intricate items such as potato paste salad, carrot jelly and simmered soya beans. Each with a distinct and unusual taste, the appetizer certainly did its job of opening up our appetite. The soup dish – Japanese style potato potage was an excellent example of the attractiveness of Japanese zen. It was such a basic dish made from humble ingredients but the end result was such a thing of beauty and good taste. The sashimi did not contain any expensive cuts of fish yet it was very well presented and the freshness of the ingredients was enough to carry the dish.
The Rusutsu pork was cooked in mini claypots on the table. The taste was unremarkable but did its job as a ‘filler’ dish so that you felt almost full by the time you finish the dish. The noodle dish was light and simple. The noodles were smooth and easily glided down your throat. Yummy. Dessert was some jelly and “mushed” apple and potato. A sweet end to the dinner. This was no gourmet kaiseki meal, but a modest one made with simple ingredients but the combination of flavours and attractive presentation made this an enjoyable meal.
All in all, our stay at the Rusutsu resort had been enjoyable but there are two things we would do differently should we visit the resort again.
First, do not stay at the Tower, stay at the North-South Wing instead. Most of the restaurants, convenience stores and ski facilities are located at the latter. There are only three restaurants at the Tower and about twelve on the other side. The two areas are 200 metres apart but there is no covered access. The only sheltered way to commute between the two is by a small, slow and primitive monorail system. If you are skiing you have to carry your stuff onto the monorail and go to the other side and back. If you are just commuting, you will have to squeeze with the sweaty skiers. There is no room service.
Second, book as comprehensive a package as you can, preferably room with meals and ski equipment altogether. Booking a room alone and then trying to organize equipment rental and meals separately is more complicated and expensive. If you observe these two tips, I am sure you will enjoy your stay at Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan.