The sunlit dining room is welcoming in summer or winter (Photo: Hoshino Resorts)

Green Kitchen

Koropokkuru's house on the prairie

The sunlit dining room is welcoming in summer or winter (Photo: Hoshino Resorts)
Bonson Lam   - 3 min read

Set in a blackened wood cottage on the prairie, Green Kitchen reminded me of the film, Bread of Happiness, about a country restaurant run by a young couple. Like the film, this cottage is Goldilocks sized, with one chef, an assistant that doubles as a backup waitress, and the main waitress who you can actually get to know as a person. At the end is a wood fire hearth, making it as different to the buffet-style caverns a ten-minute walk away in the main Tomamu resort as you can get, one far enough to ensure that the only most determined people will make their way here. For guests who are resolute enough to walk over knee-deep snow in a biting winter snowstorm, they will be rewarded with a very personalized dining experience.

You are first greeted by the dried flowers hanging on the wall before your eyes are drawn to the handwritten notes on a blackboard beckoning you to try their hot milk, these simple charms take me back to childhood memories of a lakeside holiday house. Once inside, you are treated to a theatrical experience all its own, with the tiny kitchen allowing you to interact with other guests, while your eyes are mesmerized by the flame licking the side of the pan, dishing out delights such as beef cheeks in red wine, slow-cooked over 3 days.

Everything here celebrates the bounty that Hokkaido has to offer, and even a humble cup of milk is concentrated in its flavor and texture, one that made you think twice as to why didn’t someone think of this before? Our host's heartfelt wish is for us to feel the seasons through our meat and vegetables, like a love letter from the land.

It is incredible to experience how such a small crew in a tiny kitchen can transform the humble cabbage into something that made me think again and again, curious about how do they get such a wonderful charcoal-like smokiness seeping through every bite? Or the simply dressed camembert salad, with its gooey inside melted from the oven but its skin intact on the outside, so it oozes out its goodness once you open it, akin to a savory lava cake. This is campfire cooking taken on another level, a tribute to their ingenuity with local ingredients and cooking equipment.

If you do not know what to order, try one of their recommended dishes, denoted with a bear symbol. The English menu also includes some vegetarian options, for example, Basil Ratatouille and Corn Soup, capturing the sunshine and fresh air in every bite. In Ainu culture, the Koropokkuru are fairies who lived here long ago, harvesting nature's bounty, and leaving it by our home for us to share.

While you wait for your meal, gaze outside at the sprawling snowfields and the expansive skies. If you see the Koropokkuru, dancing under the moonlight, let them go like the blowing of the dandelion. Legend says that if you try and grab them, they will never come back. So do as the Ainu do, just watch and take in the spectacle.

For dinner, its hearty meals are perfect after a day outdoors, and with its limited number of seats, reservations are recommended.

Getting there

Green Kitchen is a three minute walk from Tomamu The Tower, and a bit longer in a snowstorm. From Chitose Airport, it is approximately 70 minutes to Tomamu. From Usu Station, which is featured in the film, Bread of Happiness, it is 3 hours to Tomamu, with a change at Minami Chitose.

Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric laneways of Kyoto last century.  I am humbled to have met many distinguished people during this time, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperia...