Over the past few years, people all over the world have become more aware of current issues facing humanity; environment, health, education just to name a few. One solution that kills two birds with one stone (pardon the pun) is choosing vegetarian meals. Not only is this style of cuisine better for the body, it also has a positive impact on our environment. I have always thought of Japan as a sociologically advance culture, which is why I was so surprised to find that vegetarianism is uncommon here. The meat based diet takes precedence for many reasons, none of which will be discussed here, but I do urge you to do some research for yourself if you are interested.
Though I am not a strict vegetarian, I would never intentionally eat meat unless there were no other options. Eating out in Japan has brought me more meat eating in 4 weeks then I have done over the past 4 years! I have to say, I am at my limit. So, when my husband and I arrived in Niseko, we vowed to make a plea to the chef to make a vegetarian meal for us. I guess it was our lucky day when we stepped into Wabi Sabi for lunch, because the chef was not just accommodating to our request, he seem to take pleasure in the challenge.
Chef Sugawara whipped up the most creative veggie based meal we have had at a restaurant. Using traditional Japanese ingredients and methods he prepared for us a variety of fresh, fried, stewed, and canned dishes. Nori tempura stuffed with spinach and eggplant, stewed asparagus with hollandaise, shred cabbage with Caesar dressing, soba noodles with leeks and cabbage, sesame broth based soup with greens and mushrooms and steamed rice. It was all delicious, and without meat. The table next to us was eyeing up every dish that came out, trying to match it to what is might be on the menu. I overheard them ask the waitress what dishes we were eating, and when she replied "Vegetarian", the word must have offended him because he ended up ordering the Katsu Curry, deep fried pork with curry and rice.
Everytime we go out for dinner, there is only one place on our list, and that is Wabi Sabi for Sugawara’s vegetarian specialty. The great thing is that even after more then ten visits to the restaurant, he keeps us on our toes with new dishes. I think he likes the challenge and the rewards of our grateful smiles followed by “Oishii” or delicious in Japanese!
Wabi Sabi offers eat in, take out, and delivery in the Hirafu area.