Its not surprising that Mimi’s Restaurant and Bar has been awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, as many consider Mimi’s to be the best restaurant in Hakuba. What is surprising is that this gorgeous restaurant is so accessible. Helmed by a master Japanese chef, Mimi’s is a showcase for the unique produce found in the Shinshu region, presented with exquisite Japanese sensibility.
Executive Chef Kazuyuki Shimamoto san and his lovely wife Yuki, have turned their international expertise to the interpretation of the freshest local produce to provide a dining sensation for lucky visitors. Whilst most people are drawn to Hakuba for their love of winter sports, Kazu & Yuki were inspired by the abundance of fresh ingredients that were literally on their doorstep.
Trained in Osaka and then Italy, Shimamoto san has developed relationships with local producers to enable him to introduce guests to the Hakuba Valley to truly original Shinshu flavours.
Shinshu is the old name for Nagano and is still used in the food industry in Japan. It describes produce and flavours that are subtly different to those grown elsewhere in the world. For example, Nagano prefecture’s novel variety of salmon is a crossbreed of rainbow and brown trout that took over 10 years of cultivation. Raised in the clear streams of Hakuba, the strong taste characteristic of salmon is absent, instead offering a refined elegant flavour.
Shinshu beef is particularly tender and tasty meat. Organic farming practices are applied with the cattle individually hand reared and fed with local Nagano apples. These apples are traditionally believed to preserve health and prevent bloating. Likewise, the Japanese black haired Suffolk lamb is bred for food, not wool and does not have the strong smell often associated with mutton. Japanese lamb is highly marbled (similar to Wagyu beef) and contains high levels of carnitine, a nutrient that assists with the fat burning process.
The Shinshu region is also blessed with many wild birds and animals living in its mountains. Shinshu deer is considered unique due to its higher calcium and iron content compared to other domesticated deer. Shinshu game is loved because of its fine texture, low-fat and high protein content.
Being able to source so many local ingredients makes it difficult to decide on a signature dish, however most guests would agree it is Shimamoto san’s Shinshu wild black pork loin. The black pork is from neighboring Omachi, and the meat is said to be the perfect combination of juiciness, flavor and tenderness. This is finished with celeriac gratin, apple jus and fennel.
The unique Shinshu ingredients are complemented with handmade pasta and European style saucing and Yuki produces the perfect desserts, such as apple and sweet potato pie and gossamer light meringue puffs with wild berries, to round off your repast.
In typical Japanese fashion, the food offered in Mimi’s is chosen not merely because of its flavours and uniqueness but also because of its health giving properties – food to nourish the body and soul!
Note: This article was written by Sally Williams, General Manager of the Phoenix Hotel.