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Hokkaido Ekiben: Sapporo Station's Top 10 Boxed Lunches - Must-Try Before You Ride the Rails!

Hokkaido Ekiben: Sapporo Station's Top 10 Boxed Lunches - Must-Try Before You Ride the Rails!

Date published: 14 December 2019
Last updated: 18 December 2019

Ekiben boxed lunches are must-try for people travelling by train in Hokkaido! Despite the long distances traveled by Hokkaido's express trains, in-car sales are extremely limited. Because of this, it is highly recommended to grab not just your ticket stubs but also some food and drink before boarding!

Sapporo Station, the largest train station in Hokkaido, is the hub for many express trains arriving from and departing to all areas of Hokkaido. Because of this, it is also the home of a wide variety of ekiben. Introducing the top 10 best-sellers of Sapporo Station ekiben lunches!

Table of Contents
  1. A Guide to Sapporo Station Ekiben
  2. Popular Sapporo Ekiben #1: “Kaisen Ezo-shomi” ¥1080
  3. #2: “Makunouchi Bento Ishikari” ¥850
  4. #3: “Ishikari Shake-meshi” ¥1150
  5. #4: Sushi ¥480
  6. #5: "Sandai Kani Aji Kurabe Bento" ¥1250
  7. #6: "Shiretoko Torimeshi" ¥900
  8. #7: "Sapporo Bento Yokubari-zen" ¥1250
  9. #8: “Higuma no Zeitaku Onigiri” ¥680
  10. #9: "Irankarapte" ¥1200
  11. #10: "Yanagi Mochi" ¥600

A Guide to Sapporo Station Ekiben

A Guide to Sapporo Station Ekiben
On the left, Hokkaido's Sapporo Station Terminal
Express trains depart from Sapporo Station towards Hakodate Station, Asahikawa Station, Kushiro Station, to name a few.

There are two ticket gates at Sapporo Station, at the East Exit and West Exit. The ekiben shops lie outside the front of East Exit ticket gate, and near the coin lockers and souvenir shop by the West Exit. The ticket gates are on the first floor concourse, and the second floor platform.

Ekiben shops are relatively small in size

Because the shop front and lunch menu is written in Japanese, it can be a bit challenging for foreign tourists to navigate, however most shops also have samples on display that you can refer to.

If the price tag is hidden, that means it is out of stock
The lunch boxes come with chopsticks and napkins / The most common type of Hokkaido ekiben are sushi and other seafoods

Popular Sapporo Ekiben #1: “Kaisen Ezo-shomi” ¥1080

The top pick would have to be "Kaisen Ezo Shomi," a sushi rice lunch with crab, uni (sea urchin), ikura (fish roe), and salmon. This popular ekiben sells over 60 per day, and holds the best number in sales since 1983.

A luxurious style of Hokkaido ekiben that allows you to experience several of Hokkaido's most popular seafoods in a single bowl. Included is pickled crab and rice. Highly recommended for those who want to enjoy the authenticity of the seas of Hokkaido! The name "Ezo" actually comes from the Hokkaido's old historical name, and means "delicious seafood of Hokkaido."

· Main Contents:
Pickled crab, pickled salmon, steamed uni, boiled scallops, soy sauce pickled ikura (roe), and vinegar rice.

#2: “Makunouchi Bento Ishikari” ¥850

Next up is the only Makunouchi type of ekiben sold at Sapporo Station, the "Makunouchi Bento Ishikari." This style of Hokkaido ekiben is a classic Japanese lunch box with white rice and small varied dishes. Common foods include vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat. They are often accompanied by umeboshi, which is a dried pickled plum.

It is especially recommended to those who prefer to eat nutritious balanced meals, as the meat, fish, and vegetables included in the lunches are both well balanced and filling.

· Main Contents:
Boiled beef, baked salmon, fried eggs, boiled scallops, etc.

#3: “Ishikari Shake-meshi” ¥1150

The third most popular Hokkaido ekiben is "Ishikari Shake-meshi," a long-time selling ekiben which began in 1923. This ekiben gets its name from the salmon it was made from, which was fished from the Ishikari River near Sapporo, and still stands to this day.

The rice is prepared with kombu dashi (kelp broth) and topped with shredded salmon and ikura (fish roe). The salmon is thoroughly cooked for 20 min, the bones removed by hand, and then boiled in ginger soy sauce. The flavor of the kombu in the rice, the soy sauce in the salmon, and the mellow taste of the fluffy melting ikura creates a delicious balance which allows you to experience the delicious taste of the sea in luxury.

· Main Contents:
Kombu broth prepared rice, shredded salmon, pickled ikura, kelp-wrapped salmon maki, fuki nimono (a type of vegetable), kamaboko (processed Japanese seafood), and oshiko (pickled vegetables).

#4: Sushi ¥480

Next in line is the easy-to-eat sushi lunch. Along with the Ishikari Shake-meshi, the sushi has also been sold at Sapporo Station for about 100 years.

This Hokkaido ekiben is one of the traditional styles of Japanese sushi, "sukeroku-zushi," and packed with rolled sushi and inari-zushi (tofu-rolled sushi). Recommended for when you just want a light meal, or when you want to buy a meal that can be easily shared with friends!

· Main Contents:
Sushi rolls, inari-zushi, hosomaki (thinly rolled sushi)

#5: "Sandai Kani Aji Kurabe Bento" ¥1250

Standing in fifth place is the Sandai Kani Aji Kurabe Bento, a true representative of the deliciousness the seas of Hokkaido have to offer, and contains three different types of crab you can enjoy and compare: red king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab.

From the right, king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab. Crushed crab tops the kombu-cooked rice, and a stick of crab meat is also included. In this way, you can enjoy trying and comparing the different kinds of crab!

· Main Contents:
Kombu broth rice, king crab, snow crab, horsehair crab (minced crab and stick of crab meat)

#6: "Shiretoko Torimeshi" ¥900

There are plenty of seafood ekiben all throughout Hokkaido, however the one we will introduce now is actually made with chicken. It is by far the most popular meat-based ekiben.

Shiretoko teriyaki chicken is the main in this dish. Shiretoko chickens are raised in the natural environment of Shiretoko, which is designated as a World Natural Heritage Site, and features a soft and juicy taste. The sweet and sour taste of the chicken is in perfect balance with the rice, which is prepared with chicken broth, further enhancing the flavor. It is an ekiben that truly showcases the flavor of Shiretoko.

· Main Contents
Shiretoko chicken teriyaki, Shiretoko chicken broth cooked rice, boiled eggplant, salmon kamaboko

#7: "Sapporo Bento Yokubari-zen" ¥1250

Placing at number seven is a lunch packed with four different types of Hokkaido ekiben, the Sapporo Bento Yokubari-zen. Recommended for those who want to try several different ekiben, or those who just plain can't decide!

Not only does it include a taste of our #1 popular Kaisen Ezo-shomi ekiben, but also Ishikari shake-meshi, Shiretoko tori-meshi, and even a beef dish, equally divided into fours. A luxurious yet gluttonous example of ekiben which allows you to try not one, but four, different lunches at once!

· Main Contents:
Kaisen Ezo-shomi, Ishikari shake-meshi (salmon), Shiretoko tori-meshi (chicken), beef dish

#8: “Higuma no Zeitaku Onigiri” ¥680

Number 8 is “Higuma no Zeitaku Onigiri,” a bento box of assorted rice balls. Perfect for when you need something easy to eat, or easy to share!

From the right, the types of rice balls included are scallops, crab, and salmon. A representative seafood of Hokkaido, the rice in these onigiri are prepared with either scallop or kombu (kelp) stock, allowing you to fully experience the taste of the sea.

· Main Contents
Onigiri (scallop, crab, salmon), fried egg, boiled dishes

#9: "Irankarapte" ¥1200

The "Irankarapte" bento is an authentic Ainu style lunch box just released in 2018. This traditional Ainu cuisine comes from the indigenous tribe of Hokkaido and the surrounding islands. "Irankarapte" means "Hello" in the Ainu language.

You may be unfamiliar with these dishes, such as millet rice and imomochi. Imomochi is a potato mochi (rice cake), prepared in the fire with starch, then cooked and shaped like a regular round rice cake. Ainu cuisine features a simple and rich natural taste, and is highly recommended to try out!

#10: "Yanagi Mochi" ¥600

And finally we have "Yanagi Mochi," a type of Japanese confectionary that is just a bit smaller than an egg. This is the only sweets shop in the station.

Yanagi mochi is a rice cake made from Hokkaido's glutinous mochi rice, "Hakuchomochi," and is wrapped in koshian, a bean paste made from Hokkaido azuki beans. Koshian is slightly sweet and its moderate size makes it easy to eat. There are ten in one piece, and it is delicious and easy to eat!
Yanagi mochi was first made in 1906, and is a traditional item made by hand, one by one, even to this day. It is only fresh until the day after purchase, so eat it quickly! Recommended as a dessert on the train or as a snack to enjoy back at your hotel!

Which of these Hokkaido ekiben would you like to try the most? Be sure to taste a new one each time you board the train to enjoy as you travel throughout Hokkaido!

  • Sapporo Station
    • Address 〒060-0806 北海道札幌市北区北6条西4丁目 / 4, Kita6jo-nishi, Kita-ku Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, 060-0806, Japan
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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