For a Hokkaido food trip, the town of Wakkanai at the very northernmost tip of the island would not seem an obvious jumping-off point. Most visitors prefer to start in Sapporo, exploring the city’s sushi restaurants, noodle counters and the vibrant Nijo seafood market before heading out to the hinterlands.
Chef Stuart Brioza arrived in July with a very different agenda. Alongside his life and work partner, pastry chef Nicole Krasinski, he currently runs three popular restaurants in the California Bay Area, including the well-loved (and Michelin-starred) State Bird Provisions. Together they have visited Hokkaido on many occasions. But this time, they arranged their trip with Kammui, a travel concierge service that curates personalized exploration of Japan’s natural bounty.
For Brioza and Krasinski, their aim was to dive deeper, to get up close to as much of the prefecture’s great produce and seafood as they could find. The plan was to drive their rental camper car south and east from Wakkanai, down toward the wild, beautiful Shiretoko Peninsula. But first, they had an important side trip lined up. Their destination: Rishiri Island, a volcanic peak that juts up out of the frigid Sea of Japan some 50 kilometers off Wakkanai.