By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – The newest ramen restaurant in Big Sky serves up tasty, steaming bowls of ramen along with a selection of starters, cocktails, and most importantly, mochi for dessert.
In addition to keeping locals and visitors fed, Niseko, which opened its doors in the Marketplace Building in mid-January, has a name that evokes the largest skiing in Japan, and the Ja-Pow that comes with it. Located in Hokkaido, Niseko United is a group of four ski resorts that comprise the biggest skiing in Japan, a fitting comparison with Big Sky Resort, the self-styled Biggest Skiing in America.
Bryan Dayton, one of Niseko Ramen’s four owners, explained that the name was sparked by a ski trip to Niseko where he and some friends indulged in delicious ramen from food trucks.
Walking into the new Big Sky restaurant on a snowy evening, my glasses fogged up completely heightening my sense of smell as rich aromas wafted over me. The décor is simple and fun and a vintage film—my best guess is “Seven Samurai”—plays above the bar.
From a menu including five different ramen options, I order the spicy ramen and begin snapping food photos before chowing down. The hearty ramen bowl was delicious, but in order to save room for dessert, I get a to-go container. To finish the evening, I sample the mango and green tea mochi, a cold treat after the warm ramen.
While I was partial to the spicy ramen, Dayton said his favorite is the curry, though the spicy takes a close second.
Dayton hails from Colorado and owns Niseko with three other partners, Melissa and Chase Devitt and Will McCollum. All four take turns commuting to Big Sky from Colorado, a tad longer than their usual 30- to 45-minute commute, to oversee the restaurant.
While the decision to open a ramen restaurant in Big Sky was inspired by the Japan ski trip, it was cemented when McCollum and Dayton toured the space in Big Sky. Dayton explained that the timing seemed right and that he felt it was a good fit for tourists and locals alike.
“We wanted to do something fun and authentic, he said, “something that brings really great nourishment to the body and to the soul.”
Niseko Ramen originally opened on Jan. 1 before closing again after just five days due to COVID-19 regulations. The restaurant reopened on Jan. 15 and offers dine-in seating as well as take-out options and online ordering.
For a taste of Japan, Niseko Ramen’s website encourages diners to “Catch us where the snow falls and the bowls are hot.”
A self-described restauranteur, Dayton explains why Niseko is different.
“We like to do restaurants, we don’t like to do concepts,” he said. “So there’s an air of our heart and soul in [Niseko].”
Niseko Ramen is open seven days a week from 3 – 9 p.m.