From the quaint izakaya, hidden in the Happo village backstreets, beckoning with smoke billowing from their chimneys and long lines sweeping the footpath bends, to the loud local pubs pouring people into the icy streets in the wee hours, the menu for visitors to Hakuba is a veritable journey of tastes. With comfort food the common theme, fare from any of these Hakuba restaurants is sure to send any ski-weary traveller to bed satisfied.
Those who have travelled with a baby would know that your plans often change at the last minute, so we wanted to leave ourselves open to late bookings on our recent ski trip to Hakuba. However, Hakuba restaurants in Happo village and surrounds book up very quickly and you may have to book a table several days in advance. If you are travelling as a group, booking is imperative and you will find most restaurants simply can’t accommodate large numbers. To take the stress out of this, simply ask your hotel to book restaurants for your first couple of nights for you.
Hakuba restaurants range from the traditional izakaya serving up small plates and bowls of traditional Japanese food such as hot ramen, to the bigger, Western-style pizza and burger places to appease fussy eaters or those in need of some home comforts.
There are a number of izakaya (or traditional Japanese eating houses around Hakuba Village). These cosy little eating houses are very small and are generally equally popular. Try to book if you can or arrive very early, or you may find yourself joining the line up waiting in the cold on the street.
We had a big group meal at Izakaya Kaz Hakuba, about ten minutes by taxi from the main village (close to Sakka). An izakaya suitable for slightly larger groups, located at the Pub in Wadano, they serve up Japanese style tapas including everything from sashimi and sushi to hot pots and dumplings. They also offer a free pick up service.
Related: An Epic Guide to Hakuba Japan
Sharaku is the restaurant in the Hakuba Springs Hotel. We were told well before booking a stay at the hotel itself when asking where to eat in Hakuba, that we should try the restaurant. It was the perfect choice for our first night as we were tired after a travel day. We were lucky to get their last table and the food was delicious. This is one of the few restaurants in town that could accommodate a slightly larger group of eight to 10 people.
This small restaurant a short taxi ride from Happo Village serves up tasty Singaporean fare in its modest dining room. The Xiao Long Bao and spicy noodles are our picks from the menu. Bookings are essential as this restaurant is small and a little out of the way.
Related: 5 Must-Try Healthy Singapore Cafes
Great for groups and serving up delicious wood-fired pizza in a lively atmosphere, Blizzard is conveniently located across from the Happo One gondola, making it the ideal apres stop in or early dinner venue. We stopped in for a few fireballs, beers and shared wood-fired pizzas fresh from their oven. Make sure to check out their quirky design features too – perfect for that Insta-moment.
Pull up a stool for a simple burger and a beer at Recovery Bar, located in the Hakuba Gondola Hotel. This cute, backpacker style bar serves up a relaxed vibe and easy eats for those fresh from the mountain. We stopped in for some drinks just before the swell came in from the lifts.
More of a light night feel, but still a cosy spot for a quiet apres, Refuel does moreish finger food (try the Chicken Wing Dumplings) and burgers. Stop in for a beer as you walk through the village from the mountain, or settle in for some darts and a long night with a few friends. Get in early if you want a seat as it fills up fast.
Jack’s was the spot that seemed to fill up fastest every afternoon in Hakuba. Conveniently located next to Hakuba Springs Hotel, we settled in for a few Espresso Martinis and some live music with a jolly crowd at Jack’s one afternoon. It was clear why this is a popular spot with visitors and those in for the season; it’s an easy place to spend a lot of time from mid-afternoon to nighttime for drinks, snacks and even a little karaoke.
Other Recommended Hakuba Restaurants
Sadly, there was a number of restaurants we didn’t have time to try but our friends did. Here are a few recommendations we received;
- Kikyo-ya is a small traditional restaurant known as one of the best restaurants in Hakuba. Famed for its fresh and delicious sushi. Book for an adult dinner or a bit of a splurge as it’s a little more expensive. It’s a ten-minute drive from the village.
- Hie Izakaya was a small izakaya and sake bar that was recommended by our hotel concierge.
- Zen was recommended to us by a local and is the place for fresh soba noodles and tempura when in Hakuba.
- Wagyu Kobeya is known for its amazing wagyu beef. It’s located a short drive south of Hakuba village, near Echo Land and the restaurant offers a shuttle service to take you there.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.