Release | Isao Tanaka
J’ai la patate - the French restaurant owned by a chef born in Niseko means “feeling great!”
“J’ai la patate” opened in Kucchan-Cho in Niseko area in May 2017. A chef from Kucchan-Cho studied a lot of famous restaurants in Sapporo then came back to his hometown Niseko to open a French restaurant.
The restaurant is in the middle of the chalets area.“J’ai la patate” is located at about 2 hours drive from central Sapporo and 7 mins from JR Hirafu Station. It is also about 10 mins drive from Grand Hirafu area where many inns and restaurants are located.
▲The restaurant is in the chalets area called “Country Resort”
▲The dark green building stands out in the green forests.
With the high ceiling and huge windows on three sides, the restaurant feels very spacious.
▲Having a meal surrounded by greens is relaxing.
▲The left is Hirotaka Seino, the chef and Yuki Murata, the server and sommelier. These two men manage the restaurant.
You can taste various Hokkaido and Niseko flavors!Mr. Seino is an experienced chef who has worked for 9 years for a French restaurant, 2 years in a Japanese restaurant, and 2 years for catering in Sapporo.
Such chef creates original cuisines based on French cuisines with Hokkaido and Niseko area’s local ingredients.
For example, this is one of the appetizers. The potatoes on the center is called “540” which matured Kucchan potatoes for 540 days to make strong sweetness.
There is homemade bell peppers butter. They use vegetables grown in their gardens.
▲They also put rillettes made with grazing Dorobuta pork from Tokachi on the left of the potatoes.
Example of their main dish is roasted Dorobuta pork loin. The red sauce in front is made with Sasaki Farm’s beets from Lake Toya and olive oil, salt.
▲They also use vegetables purchased directly from farmers in the neighborhood such as Lalala Farm in Niseko-Cho.
They also use branded black hair wagyu beef Abe Beef from Shiraoi Town, Ezo deer from the hunter Tetsuyo Motokawa in Mukawa-Cho, and duck from Niseko-Cho for the main dish.
Lunch set including appetizer, main dish, and drink costs 2,000 yen. You can also add desserts with 500 yen.
▲The dessert of the day was banana tart with chocolate ice cream topping.
Dinner starts at 5,000 yen and requires a reservation. Locals and tourists from different parts of Japan visit this restaurant to have something Hokkaido-like lunch and dinner in summer.
They only open for dinner in winter. Mr. Murata, the server told me that 80% of customers would be travelers from abroad in winter.
His dreamed “French restaurant in the hometown” came true by the change in the situationBy the way, what is the meaning of “J’ai la patate”?
“It is French and means ‘I have potatoes’ if we translate it directly. French people use this expression to say ‘feeling great!’”. Mr. Seino told me.
▲He named this restaurant like this because he wanted the customers to charge powers by having local dishes of Kucchan-Cho, which is the potato town.
Mr. Seino from Kucchan-Cho was seeking chances to open a restaurant in his hometown as he worked in Sapporo.
“Opening a French restaurant in Hokkaido suburb sounded unrealistic before. However, it gradually became realistic as the number of travelers from abroad increased and restaurants awarded stars started to appear in Niseko.
Then I got an offer to open a restaurant in this property where a French chef used for a bistro and I thought I should accept this offer.”
It took a lot of work for succession and redecoration. However, he could open J’ai la patate. He celebrated the 1st anniversary on May 1, 2018.
The best way is to stay in a chalet and enjoy the mealMr. Seino aims to create 'delicious' space. His friend and an artist did the decoration, and the menu is decorative, but that is not the only thing.
▲The menu book made with leather and wood texture, which he asked his friend and a creator, is beautiful.
“I would like customers to enjoy Niseko as a whole, not only my dishes. The best way to do that is to stay in one of over 30 chalets around the restaurant. Have dinner at my restaurant, also have few drinks, and walk back towards the chalet as you watch stars. Doesn’t this sound nice?”
▲Above are the pictures of the living room and the bedroom of a three bedroom chalet close to J’ai la patate. Looks spacious and nice! Check out the website for details. https://www.mnkniseko.com/the-chalets-at-country-resort
J’ai la patate has just experienced the first year and every season.
“I am very thankful for the past year as the number of customers were more than expected. I would like to continue making the place better, but not working too hard, as a sustainable restaurant.”
I am looking forward to the improvement! I will visit here to stay next time.
Text / Isao Tanaka
Photo / Tateyuki Tabuchi