Parco Fiera is gastronomy built on creativity and sustainability. Make the trip and be wowed by the chef’s spirit of craftsmanship fostered from his earliest days. Centered on cured meats and fermentation techniques, the cuisine is a gift of love from the chef based on careful consideration for guests and precise calculations.
Twenty minutes by train or 45 minutes by car from Sapporo Station on Japan’s north island of Hokkaido Parco Fiera is far from convenient. But that does not stop the world’s foodies from making the trip to the Sapporo suburbs for Parco Fiera’s delectable cuisine. The restaurant name, meaning “fair place”, was adopted from his Italian training ground in Piedmont. He chose it for its connection with his cooking roots and his wish that everyone involved – producers, artisans, guests – all stand on equal ground. In addition to teachings from a nonna who shared her traditional cuisine with him, Nakajo trained at a long-time salumeria – processed meats specialist – in Campania Cilento during his time in Italy. His experiences there affected his present profoundly, with Parco Fiera’s existence built on his homemade ham and other meat creations, visible in-store in a specialized cellar. With ham as the starting point, Nakajo contemplates the best ways to prepare guests’ bellies and taste buds for maximum enjoyment of the cured meats. His solution is fermentation, which appears in many ways and moments throughout the course, as it reduces the burden on diners’ stomachs.
Lovingly described by fans as a creative genius but a bit of an oddball because of his obsession with the pursuit of the homemade, Nakajo approaches cooking from diverse angles most never consider. Neuroscience, psychology, anatomy, chemistry, bacteriology, and microbiology all play a part in his cuisine and service style.
Fermentation magic ensures maximum enjoyment of cured meats.
Parco Fiera’s cuisine is about complex, intensely creative dishes in which fermentation magic ensures maximum enjoyment of cured meats.
Homemade salumi is the star in a degustation course of twelve to fifteen dishes that harness the power of fermentation. In addition to the wide range of salumi, almost every seasoning is homemade – even salt and vinegar. And Nakajo feels great responsibility partaking in another creature’s life, so he is sure to use every part of the animal without waste.
Contrast dishes like the gnocco fritto fried bread from the Emilia region that share Italian traditions with ingenious combinations not found anywhere, like prosciutto with soft cod roe, a nigiri sushi style bite of Hokkaido Yumepirika rice topped with prosciutto cotto, or friend anago conger that has been marinated in sweet wine and spices then topped with coppa. Chef Nakajo tastes his salumi to assess flavor and texture to determine the best mode and preparation for service.
In a complex crab salad, all but three of the ingredients – crab, green onions, and olive oil – are homemade. Nakajo begins with Okhotsk Sea crab and boils it in homemade sea salt. It has green onions and sea urchin dressed in salt and olive oil, a canola flower sauce containing plum vinegar, and it is topped with setoka marmalade, fermented mustard, and a dash of fennel oil to finish. The array of fermented seasonings packed into one dish accentuates the ingredients’ innate flavors while also readying the belly and palate for the best flavor experience of the cured meats to follow. There is also a dish of oysters in fermented turnip soup, mortadella, and dishes containing Ezo deer sausage.
There is one key ingredient in every dish – LOVE. Love for producers and the ingredients, and a love that inspires Nakajo’s work to please guests, including making small bites for elderly guests and easy-to-cut pieces, all in the name of stress-free dining. He is constantly monitoring the number of times a guest chews and calculating their body temperature and speed of metabolism based on whether they are sweating, and he makes minor adjustments to suit them. For example, the thickness of prosciutto that melts in the mouth of one guest may need to be chewed by another. And because the condition of the human gut differs based on hormones and the volume of different enzymes depending on origin, be it Asia or Europe, Nakajo endeavors to serve fermented foods that may be more familiar to each guest. It is a lot to monitor, which is why he limits each sitting to six guests and has to do every part of the process alone.
Parco Fiera ingredients come predominantly from Hokkaido, especially from people he is in direct contact with: seafood from the local market, meats delivered by producers, and vegetables direct from the farmers who grow them. He uses organic vegetables and herbs cultivated by his father at their family home. Many other vegetables are so local that the chef collects them himself, also venturing into the mountains to forage for sansai mountain vegetables and mushrooms. He even accompanies hunters on deer hunts. The flour is also Hokkaido-grown, and the Yumepirika brand-name rice comes from the farm of one of his high school bandmates. Apart from olive oil, Nakajo needs not purchase seasonings because he makes them all himself.
The meats used in his salumi include local Ezo deer and pigs raised on whey supplied direct by a Hokkaido cheesemaker. The result is succulent flesh that melts in the mouth with a sweetness like butter. Many restaurants serving prosciutto use manual slicers to achieve the typically thin, fluffy texture. But Nakajo uses an electric slicing machine as it allows him to make the minute adjustments necessary for his wide range of salumi. His is a Berkel – an Italian brand considered the Ferrari of slicers.
The excellent wine selection is a showcase of natural wines from Italy, France, Slovenia, and other countries. They are the perfect match for cuisine that likewise contains no additives. There are also choices of sake and wine by Hokkaido makers dear to Nakajo.
Salumi is the craft of preserving and salting cured meat, and Nakajo began his craft in earnest after returning from Italy. From prosciutto and coppa to mortadella, salami, sausage, and bresaola, the varieties are as numerous as the animals they are made from, including cow, pig, bear, wild boar, deer, duck, and pheasant. Nakajo adds nuts, herbs, spices, and other ingredients to these, so you never know what will emerge and in what style. Then there are choices like washed or fermented, smoked or not smoked, and different aging periods – the options are endless. At the time of our visit, Nakajo’s cellar contained more than 50 varieties. Then he decides on the dish to make, the thickness of the cut, and other preparations considerations, meaning that each dish is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000