Venture out a little further from the hustle and bustle of Hirafu and you’ll find yourself duly rewarded with this little gem at a T-intersection, somewhere between Higashiyama, Annupuri and Niseko town, pretty much with nothing else around it. They were closed on 1 Jan (well, can’t blame them), so we arrived on the 2nd, famished after a day on the hill and a relaxing onsen to prep us for our feed. Don’t come thinking you’ll get a huge variety of everything Japanese under the rising sun; this place is dedicated almost exclusively to this Japanese fried pancake dish, and they do it to perfection.

When you enter, there’s a little genkan area to take off all your wet shoes and slip onto a pair of slippers. Sit at either the regular tables, at the counter to watch the chef do his magic, or at the traditional low tables to see who can twist their legs into a pretzel for the longest without going numb. The owners hail from Osaka, where okonomiyaki originates, so we were in for an authentic treat. Tea was prompting served, and the usual bi-ru and sake followed diligently.

The menu is pretty simple:

1) choose your base from the 3 – the okonomiyaki, though the stock standard fare, it is by no means plain, in fact it is the thicker, meaner, tastier and full-on type, with bonito flakes dancing around and mayonnaise drizzle to give it that extra creamy taste; the nariyaki, with a thin base and garlic, chives, lemon and bonito flakes; and the negiyaki, which is topped with spring onion, lemon and bonito flakes, done to a crispy golden brown and served with a lemon slice. There is also a stir-fried noodles with cabbage, mushroom, sunny-side-up egg and bits of nori and other delicious goodness (reminds me of a rugby pile up).

2) choose your “content” – squid, pork, mixed (pork, prawn, squid, for the greedy ones who can’t make up their mind), seafood, and a funky beef tendon with kimchi, and lastly, a vegetarian version with beans. For the mathematicians amongst you, try and work out the permutations from that).

And yes, there is an English menu, thought it was fun to learn Japanese with Nihongo on one hand and English on the right. Ika is squid, Buta is pork, and kimchee is…. kimchee.

The chef cooks it at the counter and the waiter comes over with a spatula to transfer your goodies to your pre-heated grill plate, which is in the middle of the table. The food doesn’t overcook despite sitting on the heated top (well, it didn’t last long amongst us, so we couldn’t prove whether the grill could have ruined the food ultimately given enough time). You get your own little metal spade to play chef and dice/cut/shovel things around.

Then came a smattering of tastes and textures to tantalise each and every taste bud. The squid and prawns were fresh, and were embedded in the still moist and doughy batter, and the pork was thinly sliced and took on the flavour of the egg when you break the yolk and it runs amok. The crispy surface of the negiyaki gave way to yet more hidden gems underneath, this time it was kimchee and beef tendons, and the crisp spicy flavour of the kimchi complimented the normally gummy, tasteless beef tendons, which happened to have been simmering in the big pot at the kitchen for probably hours on end to soak up all that flavourful goodiness of the broth. The stir-fried noodles gave us some variety and the thick noodles, not dissimilar to udon, were done al dente. Suffice to say we wolfed it all down and it was a classic case of “please sir, can I have some more?”

There are other side dishes in the menu but we had to painfully ignore them as we had a mission to complete, and we were truly satisfied with probably the best okinomiyaki in the area, if not the whole of Hokkaido. What makes it so much better is that you have a whole day on the hills to work up an appetite and dream about it until it materialises in front of you.