Niseko, Japan, best places to eat: Luke Hurford, YTL hotels executive, top picks

Formerly the general manager of Niseko Village and now senior vice-president sales & marketing of YTL Hotels, Luke Hurford is responsible for most of the properties in YTL's luxury collection. He still makes an annual trip back to Japan with his family. See


For a sweet treat, you can't go past Milk Kobo. The delicious cream puffs made with fresh milk at the creamery – a dairy farm located right beside Niseko Village ski resort – are nothing short of a local delicacy. You can even witness the process of the talented Milk Kobo artistes filling the puffs with vanilla flavoured cream as you order. The dairy farm has been in the area for generations and it's common for fans to travel long distances just to get their fix. See


Hokkaido is rich in fresh produce, thanks to the extreme climate, and Niseko has some of the best in the region. While you're out exploring local life, pick up a summer favourite from a roadside stall, straight from hands of the farmer. Try perfectly grilled sweetcorn and fresh vegies harvested that morning. The year-round popular roadside stop, Mushroom Kingdom food hall, also has a mouth-watering mushroom miso soup and tempura mushrooms that are hard to beat. See


If you're looking for some fine-dining at lunchtime, visit Maccarina, the best fine dining in the region I've ever had. An understated restaurant with French influences, the eatery is about 20 minutes' drive from Niseko Village ski resort and features a cosy open fire place and open kitchen. Seasonality and fresh produce are celebrated in Japan, referred to as "shun", and Maccarina's menu changes frequently to incorporate this tradition. I recommend the seven-course degustation to sample the best flavours of the season. See


Hokkaido is renowned for its quality seafood, so head to the Crab Shack Iocated right in the village. The restaurant is a seafood marketplace that switches up its produce daily and seasonally. Fresh seafood from the tank is grilled, steamed or cooked however you wish. Obviously, the crab is a must, but my personal favourite is the chanchan yaki, prepared Hokkaido-style with a side of salmon, miso and vegies all grilled on a hot plate right in front of you. The decor imitates the fare, so you feel like you're dining in a traditional Hokkaido boathouse. See


Bar Gyu or Fridge Bar, is a fun example of the small capacity, hole-in-the-wall bars (literally) that Japan is famous for. Located in lower Hirafu, Niseko, the entrance is marked by a vintage refrigerator door that can be easy to miss if you don't know where it is. You must crouch to fit into the tiny entrance and enter the dim-lit speakeasy on the other side. The bar stocks a full range of Japanese whisky, including Hokkaido's famous Yoichi brand, and serves a great old fashioned, martini, and hot cocktails that can be taken on-the-go to keep you warm on the snowy Niseko streets. See