For people visiting from warmer climes, it is not often you get to see a near horizontal snowstorm whilst dining from a sky-high observatory. Well, the great thing about Risonare Tomamu is that there are two such places, being Sora and Otto Sette, the latter a cross between a refined library and a gentleman’s club, 32 stories above in the already high Risonare Skyscraper. Old coffee table books on British interior design, a baby grand piano, and a circular library, speak volumes about its sophistication and elegance, making Otto Sette a worthy flagship restaurant at Tomamu Resort.
With the city so far away, this is the place to see the sunrise on a new day, or perhaps a sunset or the full moon or the stars on a calm and clear night. The city lights and noise are another world away. What is little known to outsiders is that Hokkaido makes some of the best Yoshoku or Japanese-made western cuisine. The founding fathers and mothers of the last frontier in Japan were trained in agricultural colleges with advice from teachers in America and Germany. Their expertise helped found the potato fields of Furano and the dairy farms of Onuma and Nanae.
The rich soils and slow natural farming practices, the love and pride of the farmers mean that their Asparagus is some of the most sought after in the region, one that is showcased in creamy asparagus soup.
It is no wonder that their menu is based on Calendario Gastronomico, which means gourmet calendar in Italian. Their head chef Takeda san tells me that every month in Hokkaido is associated with the harvest of a particular vegetable or seafood. January and February are famous for codfish and king crabs, while May and June are for Asparagus, sea urchins, and scallops. When even the back office staff here go fruit and vegetable picking on the weekend, you know they are in tune with the best seasonal produce. In winter, seasonal yuzu, a citrus fruit, is nature’s way of looking after you, protecting you from colds and flu. Takeda san was born in nearby Asahikawa, and after training in Osaka, came back to Hokkaido, a land filled with the best products from land and sea.
Their signature dishes include Leek panna cotta with sea urchin, letting Hokkaido milk cooked at low temperatures to maximise the scent of leek, and topped with sea urchin.
For mains, be inspired by the theme, Footprints in the forest, brought to life in the dish, Tajarin with venison ragu. Imagine handpicking the best of nature in one dish. The Ezo deer, after taking in the autumn fruits and plants, is fattened just at the right time, and enhanced by Juniper Berries. The ragu is served with Tajarin, the only handmade pasta that only uses egg yolks, the pride of Piedmont. While it seems geographically distant, Piedmont and Liguria are on the same latitude as Hokkaido. Like Hokkaido, the province of Liguria faces the sea where abundant blessings from the ocean are sourced.
The bread and Hokkaido butter is simple but leaves you wanting more, as is the Obihiro bacon with just the right amount of thickness of cut, complemented by the prosciutto and country style ham with Dijon mustard. For dessert, savour the Monte Bianco and Bonet with Meringata, made with chestnut cream which is paired with the tartness of Honeyberry Jam.
For dessert, savour the Monte Bianco and Bonet with Meringata, made with chestnut cream which is paired with the tartness of Honeyberry Jam.