Situated on the t-section between Niseko Village and Annupuri, Juu is a little difficult to get to for the average tourist in Hirafu. Yet, the restaurant is consistently busy.
For those yet to be educated about okonomiyaki, you’re in for a treat. Okonomiyaki is a modern Japanese dish often described as a ‘Japanese savoury pancake’. While technically correct, it doesn’t make it sound very appealing. Another option is a cabbage omelette, which probably doesn’t sound any better.
This video (which is a fantastic cooking channel if you haven’t already watched it) sums it up best.
There are two main styles of okonomiyaki; the thick and puffy Osaka-style, and the thinner crispy Hiroshima-style.
The flexibility of okonomiyaki comes from there being almost no limits to the ingredients you can add to the basic batter. This is literally what the okonomi in okonomiyaki means – what you like. The yaki means ‘grilled’.
Juu has dozens of ingredient combinations to choose from, with additional items that you can add. Popular ingredients include pork, seafood, steak, kimchi, and cheese. Personal favourite is their modanyaki buta kimchi, which is okonomiyaki with added fried noodles, pork and kimchi.
The next vital ingredient of okonomiyaki are the sauces – okonomi sauce, mayonnaise, and a waving pile of dried fish flakes.
Now that the uneducated masses have caught up, Juu makes some of the finest okonomiyaki in Niseko. The husband and wife team at Juu are from Osaka, so you can expect that lovely fluffy thick ‘pancake’. They craft away in the open kitchen, and bring out perfectly cooked ‘pancakes’ to the hotplate on the table. The hotplate keeps the okonomiyaki warm, but it’s a little pointless, because even though they are incredibly filling, they are so delicious you’ll be finishing them long before they get a chance to cool down.
It is a bit of a journey from Hirafu to visit Juu, but your mouth will be rewarded for the effort.