Embodying Kyoto and all its elegance in the far north capital of Sapporo. Authenticity and passion underlie the chef’s ability to showcase the bounties of his beloved birthplace, elevated to a form typically only found in Tokyo or Kyoto. Space, cuisine, and the chef himself – the regal feel of it all is sufficient invitation to the great north island of Hokkaido.
Even more wonderful since its relocation in 2019, Suyama can be found on a narrow street just off Odori Boulevard, which runs through central Sapporo. You may be a little uncertain at first, but the moment you sense the elegant aura and behold the refined space, you know this is the place. The warm timber exterior is accented by the bright green leaves of a maple tree and a crisp black draped noren containing the characters for Suyama within a snowflake-shaped crest.
You enter a different world as the door opens, and anticipation builds along the approach into the dining space with austere beauty that typifies Japan. While restaurants of haute cuisine often favor hinoki Japanese cypress, unfinished timber risks splitting in the dry climate of Hokkaido. Thus, Suyama’s eight-seat counter has the beautiful lush tones of cherry wood finished with lacquer. The elegant luster is accented by the gentle light of votive candles placed at precise intervals.
The restaurant was designed by Kyoto-based Sugihara Design Office – the creative genius behind many favorites in the former imperial capital. To the right behind the counter is the charcoal brazier and stove, to the left a tea ceremony space where each meal comes to a close, above is a gorgeous wickerwork ceiling, and on the rear wall is a simple vase of flowers. You are surrounded by minimalist beauty.
Suyama offers both counter seating and private rooms. The advantage of the counter is a behind-the-scenes view of how so many components come together in the works of edible art created by the chef, while the private rooms offer the chance to lap in the luxury of Japanese hospitality in your own space. Wherever you are seated, the dining experience at Suyama is a little like visiting a gallery with exquisite ceramic pieces, accoutrements, and charming Japanese touches at every turn. The tableware collection, established over many years by the chef, includes ceramics from Kyoto’s Akando and glassware by longstanding Tokyo maker Horiguchi Glass.
Certain to be an unforgettable memory
Certain to be an unforgettable memory in your Japan travel journal, Chef Takahashi’s cuisine beautifully captures traditional Japanese culture and the intricacies of each season, presenting glorious Hokkaido ingredients in incredibly polished flavors. His creativity is born from a love for Japanese cuisine and passion for wabisabi, the aesthetic of finding beauty in the imperfections of nature. His cuisine is concerned with the pursuit of the simple, and the 12-dish course captures the chef’s style while following orthodox traditions of Japanese cuisine. Dining each month at Suyama is recommended to truly experience the wonder, but if that is difficult then do try to visit in each of the four main seasons.
Service is run by the owner chef’s wife, who is also a trained chef. Her heartwarming hospitality puts every guest at ease and allows the chef to wield his genius in the kitchen. Even at the time of your reservation, they seek to understand your needs in order to best serve you on your visit. True to the Suyama restaurant name, chosen as a wish for happiness and that fortune may pile mountain high, you will be filled with joy as you head home after a deliciously satiating meal. Dashi is integral to Japanese cuisine, and Takahashi extracts his from Rishiri kombu into pure spring water from Mt. Yotei kept at 60 degrees for two hours. He then adds an accent with the delicious aroma of extremely thinly sliced premium bonito flakes from Makurazaki, Kagoshima. The truly elegant flavor underlies each delicate dish you are about to devour.
A summer course may begin with sesame tofu topped with Hokkaido shrimp, azuki beans, and smashed okra in a soy sauce-based dressing. The antique Baccarat glass it all sits in rests on a bed of ice inside a quaint wooden pail. Then sashimi arrives, served on a vibrant green leaf to create a cooling, refreshed vibe. Lusciously sweet plump botan ebi prawn and translucent slices of flounder are some of the bountiful local specialties on offer, accompanied by Mazuma wasabi and a choice of either soy sauce or salt from Lake Patagonia, Argentina.
Highlighting seasonal ingredients from the mountains and seas, the hassun course showcases the chef’s imagination and skillful hands. Inspired by yakatabune entertainment boats enjoyed by many on summer nights, a boat-shaped dish holds pressed trout sushi, kuruma prawn, deep-fried corn, dried mullet roe, ginger, and a single brilliant green edamame pod. In the rippled, translucent glass beside is a colorful vinegared dish of summer vegetables and junsai watershield plant.
An exquisite lidded bowl with a smooth silver lacquer coating arrives – a masterpiece of Wajima craftsmen. Removing the lid, you are greeted with the incredible aromas of crab dumpling with Hisui Nasu eggplant, named for its jade-like color, in perfect balance with the accompanying taro stem, wispy white long onion strips and yuzu citrus.
Presented in a stunning Edo Kiriko cut glass bowl and served cold is the delicious combination of togan winter melon with thick crab sauce and the refreshing aroma of ginger. The shiizakana course is a sharing platter of Lake Biwa sweetfish and beautifully wrapped packages of sushi rice topped with eel of either the unagi freshwater or anago saltwater variety. It is accompanied by a playful yet auspicious calligraphy note written by the chef or his teacher, wishing for the sound health of guests. The meal is not fully completed for several more dishes and always closed with a ceremonial cup of green tea.
Fresh seafood products come in from Sapporo Central Market, Tokyo’s Toyosu Market, and the market in Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu. Vegetables like asparagus and corn are sent direct from farmers in Yoichi, Hokkaido. Takahashi uses premium grade koshihikari rice from Uonoma, Niigata Prefecture, and Tosa Binchotan charcoal.
The beverage list contains carefully selected brands from incredible breweries nationwide, including Niseko and Fuyuhanabi from local Hokkaido breweries Niseko Shuzo and Kobayashi Shuzo, respectively, as well as Kokuryu from Fukui and Aichi Prefecture’s Kuheiji. Takahashi also has the full selection of KENZO ESTATE wines grown in the bountiful Napa Valley.
Every dining experience at Suyama comes to a close with matcha green tea made personally by the chef. The bright green powdered tea is Isuzu, meaning ‘fifty bells’, from a tea plantation in Kyoto’s premium tea-growing district of Uji called Marukyu Koyamaen, whose history goes back to the 17th century.
A black hand-molded earthenware bowl creates an ideal backdrop for the brilliant green frothy tea within. Each guest will be served in a slightly different bowl from Takahashi’s extensive collection. He adores tea bowls and hopes guests will take the time to appreciate the feel in their hands. Attending regular classes with his own tea master, Takahashi returns to Suyama from each lesson holding the wildflowers displayed by his master.
The accompanying wagashi sweets speak of the season and are a key component of Japanese culture. In early summer the sweet is inspired by an iris about to bloom. Takahashi delights in the four seasons and loves how the flow of blossoming shifts up the Japanese archipelago from the south, with Hokkaido always coming into color one month after the main island of Honshu. The anticipation is all part of the joy.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000