Are you ready to embark on a culinary journey through Hakodate? Get ready to tantalize your taste buds in this charming city located in southern Hokkaido, which has become a beloved destination for food enthusiasts from all around the world. From fresh seafood delights to a delightful fusion of Eastern and Western flavors, Hakodate offers a diverse and mouthwatering culinary scene that is sure to leave you craving for more.
To help you get the most of your trip, we've prepared a handy list of must-try foods you can't afford to miss, from cuttlefish to seafood rice bowls, ramen, meat skewers, Lucky Pierrot burgers that can only be found in Hakodate, and many more - grouped into separate zones for your planning convenience.
Main image: Klook, PIXTA
Quick List of Popular Hakodate Foods
Cuttlefish and squid (Ika)
The delicacy most closely associated with Hakodate is none other than the cuttlefish, because the city is located right next to Tsugaru Straits, one of Japan's top cuttlefish production region, giving it access to a constant flow of plentiful harvest. Fresh cuttlefish is tender and has virtually no bad odors, which is why the cuttlefish cuisine of the city like sashimi and rice bowls leave such a great impression behind on visitors. Needless to mention, you'll find plenty of shops offering cuttlefish food in the city, including Hakodate Morning Market, a popular tourist destination that's worth waking up early for the freshest haul of cuttlefish from the straits or farms. The breed of cuttlefish that can be caught differs according to time period as well. From January to May, loligo squid is the main catch, and that changes to Japanese flying squid from June to December. Whichever breed is in season during the time of your visit, you're in for a fantastic treat!
Seafood Rice Bowl (Kaisendon)
Since Hakodate is surrounded by the sea on three sides, seafood is naturally a primary food ingredient here. We're talking about delicacies like tuna, salmon, prawns, crabs, sea urchins, shellfish, roes, and plenty more. That means the seafood rice bowl, which is usually a mix of the seasonal haul is a must-try for all Hakodate visitors! And it's not difficult to find at all, since the dish is served fresh in many eateries, restaurants, and even bars around popular hotspots like Hakodate Morning Market, Hakodate Station, the bay area, and Goryokaku. Hakodate is a great place to satisfy any seafood cravings that may arise as you visit the places of interest in town!
Shio Ramen (Salt-Flavored Ramen)
Hakodate's shio ramen is considered one of the top three ramen in Hokkaido alongside Sapporo's miso ramen and Asahikawa's tonkotsu ramen. The shio ramen's main feature is its clear broth and thin noodles that are quick to absorb the essence of the nutritious soup. Shio ramen has had a long history. The dish was invented through a modification of the noodles being served in Hakodate's Chinese cuisine restaurants in the late 19th century and is considered the pioneer ramen flavor of Japan. Shio ramen in its most basic form is made by boiling chicken bones and kombu together until a clear broth is produced before adding straight noodles and some simple garnishing. As you can guess, there are now plenty of eateries and restaurants all over Hakodate offering this perennial favorite to both locals and visitors, especially in high traffic areas like Hakodate Station and Goryokaku. A couple of popular restaurants you might want to look out for are Ajisai and Ichimonji. Be prepared to wait in line before you can get a taste of what they have to offer, however, because they're just that good!
Being located near the sea, Hakodate was one of the earliest places in Japan to incorporate Western culture into town and that's why visitors can see restaurants here serving up all sorts of international cuisine, foremost of which is a bowl of simple yet profound curry. This dish is further divided up into different genres such as English curry, French curry, and Indian curry. Each type of curry is uniquely prepared in different restaurants. Take a look, for example, at Gotoken, a Western cuisine restaurant with a stellar history, having been established in the year 1879. Their curry is made with locally sourced potatoes, carrots, and meats that are boiled for a long time in traditional sauces. This tasty dish has kept many tongues and tummies satisfied for the longest time and there's no indication it'll stop now! The other curry eateries near the station and other places of interest have their own special cooking style as well, and that's why you're unlikely to feel tired of Hakodate's curry even if you should have it regularly while you're here.
Lucky Pierrot Burgers
This wildly popular burger chain only has shops in Hakodate. Other than burgers, you can also enjoy curry rice, omelet rice, fried noodles, soft-serve ice-cream, and other locally loved foods made using mainly ingredients from Hokkaido itself to support local businesses. The most popular signature item on the shop's menu is the Chinese Chicken Burger, which comes with a tender, juicy chicken patty and crispy vegetables sandwiched between soft and fluffy burger buns. Just one bite is enough for you to figure out why people from all over the world are addicted to it! In total, you can find 17 shop branches in Hakodate. Some are located near popular areas such as Hakodate Station, Goryokaku, the marine bay, and Jujigai Ginza. What's more, each shop has its own special decor theme so there's always something new to discover in each branch you visit. The best part is, of course, that good food is guaranteed!
Yakitori Bento (Skewered Meat Lunch Box)
Yakitori usually refers to grilled chicken meat in other parts of Japan, but interestingly, the yakitori of Hakodate is made using pork meat! The underlying reason is quite pragmatic: Locals prefer pork over chicken as pork meat is more economical than chicken in terms of cost and yet higher in nutritional value. The result is a localized food culture that is uniquely Hakodate.
As for the yakitori bento, this was a meal box introduced by local supermarket chain Hasegawa Store. The first thing you see upon opening the bento box is three skewers of pork yakitori above sheets of seaweed, which are in turn placed above a serving of rice. Choose between yakitori sauce, savory, savory yakitori sauce, or spicy flavors for your freshly grilled skewers to go along with fragrant rice. This is a beloved local dish that's a must-try for all foodies who happen to be in town!
Desserts: Pastry Snaffle's / Petite Merveille / Senshuan Sohonke / Trappist Shudoin / Hakodate Yanagi-Ya / Others
As a major city of Hokkaido, Japan's sweets sanctuary, Hakodate is full of old-time confectionery stores and the latest trendy treats. Pastry Snaffle's and Petite Merveille, for example, are well-known for their rich and tasty cheesecakes. Pastry Snaffle's strawberry omelet cheesecakes melt in your mouth and Petite Merveille's bite-sized cheesecakes are excellent for offering the full thick and buttery cheesecake experience in a convenient size. For something more Japanese, visit Senshuan Sohonke, a traditional Japanese snack store with more than 160 years of history. Don't miss the shop's popular Ganso Yamaoyaji butter milk senbei (rice crackers)! Trappist Shudoin is well-known for their Japanese crackers as well, whereas Hakodate Yanagi-Ya is The place to go to for squid yokan jelly. All the items sold in these shops are great candidates for souvenirs as well!
Hakodate Food Guide by Area
1) Hakodate Station and vicinity
The main transport hub of Hakodate is also the first station many visitors stop by on their trip here. A short walk away from the building is the Hakodate Morning Market, a large shopping area that's about 33,000 square meters or 355,000 square feet wide. The area consists of four main sections: the morning market, direct sales centers (outlet stores where goods producers sell their wares from the farm or factory directly), Ekini Market, and Donburi Yokocho. An interesting activity you can consider trying in Ekini Market is squid fishing. Donburi Yokocho is full of restaurants that serve fresh seafood and seafood rice bowls.
Another place of interest located near the station is Dai Mon Yokocho, the alley of bars and ramen stores. You'll also find the retro Yoshida Shoten and its signature dish, the soup curry here, along with Lucky Pierrot, a Hakodate-only burger chain, and Hasegawa Store with its famous skewered meat lunch boxes. One thing's for sure: You'll never run out of exciting food options to choose from in Hakodate with so much variety available!
After refilling your stomach at the Hakodate Morning Market, head over to Ekini Market nearby for some squid fishing fun or shop around the various snack and cosmetic stores in the area for good souvenirs to bring home. The seaside area is a great place to take strolls in while enjoying the bustling city vibe of the port town. Once you feel ready, simply head back to Hakodate Station to hop on a train and continue your sightseeing in other fantastic hotspots such as Goryokaku and Motomachi.
Food to try around Hakodate Station
2) Bay area and vicinity
The bay area refers to a small zone located near Hakodate Bay, which in turn is near Hakodate Station, Hakodate Morning Market, and plenty of other places of interest. Its close distance to both the morning market and port allows the restaurants located here to serve freshly caught seafood. There are many eateries offering seafood and sushi cuisine as a result, such as Sushidokoro Minami, a Michelin 1-star restaurant, as well as conveyor belt sushi bar Hakodate Marukatsu Suisan.
Around the bay area, you should absolutely stop by the historic Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, a mixed-use facility for shopping and eating. Major cheesecake manufacturers like Petite Merveille and Pastry Snaffle's both have branch stores here. Other places to go for good food after your shopping spree are Lucky Pierrot, Hasegawa Store, and MeiMeiTei, a famous jingisukan (grilled mutton) restaurant.
Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse is the face of the bay area. It consists of more than 50 shops that are divided into four main zones. The Yobutsukan zone is home to retailers for a bewildering variety of commercial brands. Bay Hakodate is the cafe zone and even comes equipped with a small chapel. Kanemori Hall is where musical events and other activities take place. All of these can be found in a clean and well-maintained historic warehouse sporting genuinely vintage decor and architecture without the musty scent of an old, unkempt building. Warning: Shopping can be disruptive as you stop at every corner to take pictures of a surprising scene you may stumble upon. The place also looks different at night when the lights come on. Definitely a place you could enjoy for an entire day if you are so inclined!
Food to try around the bay area
3) Motomachi / Mount Hakodate
The area around Motomachi and Mount Hakodate is an interesting one indeed. First of all, it is located near Hakodate Station and the bay area. That means plenty of good food options. In terms of scenic sights, you can bet this area has it in spades. Many Westerners stayed in this area back in the day and the Western-style buildings they left behind have become quite popular sightseeing spots. Additionally, the unique and exciting East-meets-West culture that they've built into the area is something to be experienced as well. Needless to say, restaurants serving Japanese and Western cuisine can be easily found here. Some of our recommendations are the Gotoken Restaurant Yukikawatei for their amazing curry dishes, the Michelin 1-star restaurant Ryotei Fumoto, and the tasty burgers of Lucky Pierrot. In fact, feel free to take a break in between sightseeing destinations in any of the cafes, restaurants, or bars that strikes your fancy here. It's virtually impossible to go wrong with any of them!
Hakodate's Motomachi district is one of Japan's earliest open ports, boasting numerous Western-style architectural attractions such as churches, the Old Public Hall, and the Foreigners' Cemetery. These sites exude elegance and beauty, making them perfect for photography enthusiasts. Additionally, the sloping path known as Hachiman-Zaka Slope has become a popular hotspot for social media check-ins. At the end of this long and straight slope lies Hakodate's harbor, often featured in Japanese films and advertisements, and it becomes truly enchanting when illuminated at night. These attractions are all within walking distance of each other, making it highly recommended to spend an afternoon exploring Hakodate Motomachi.
Adjacent to Motomachi is the famous Mount Hakodate, offering breathtaking panoramic views. You can easily reach the mountaintop observation deck by taking the aerial cable car). During the day, you can enjoy a vibrant view of Hakodate city and its collection of Western-style buildings. As night falls, the city's lights shimmer like stars scattered on the ground, with a wide bay on either side. This romantic and alluring night view has earned Mount Hakodate the legendary title of one of Japan's three greatest night views.
Food to try around Motomachi / Mount Hakodate
4) Goryokaku and vicinity
The picturesque Goryokaku and its vicinity is a major tourist destination in Hakodate - most visitors to the city will have it somewhere in their itinerary. Naturally, this has led to the proliferation of much good food in the area, such as Ichimonji and Ajisai, famous Hakodate ramen stores. Western food aficionados will love Gotoken and its range of curry dishes. And conveniently, Rokkatei is located somewhere nearby as well, for all your confectionery souvenir buying needs. Don't forget to drop by Hasegawa Store, a Hokkaido-only supermarket, to have a look around as well as try out the chicken burgers of Lucky Pierrot. If none of these seem to catch your stomach's attention at this point of time, simply look around for other types of foods available and be pleasantly surprised. From grilled meat to sukiyaki and shabushabu hotpot meals, Goryokaku is a food haven for even the pickiest of eaters.
Goryokaku Park sits within a star-shaped fortress and offers great seasonal views of the natural beauty found within. Here, you can admire sakura in spring, sit in the cooling shade during summer, gaze upon fiery red maple leaves during autumn, and be refreshed by the pure white cover of snow in winter. The Hakodate Magistrate's Office is a historic building exhibiting Edo era (1603 to 1867) architecture and artifacts related to the development of Goryokaku. Don't miss it if you're into history and culture! To fully enjoy your trip here, consider buying a ticket that allows you access to the tower's observatory deck where you can see the beautiful fortress and its unique star shape from above in detail.
Food to try around Goryokaku
5) Yunokawa and vicinity
Yunokawa is on the outskirts of Hakodate and is most well known for the Yunokawa Onsen hot springs. Due to its proximity to the seaside, guests can soak and relax while admiring the view of an infinite sea. There are many well-established hot spring lodges along the coast here that offer fresh seafood and traditional Japanese kaiseki course meals. Good views, good food, and good springs delivered through excellent hospitality is the trademark of traditional Japanese inns here will keep you warm and comfortable throughout your stay. Ultimate relaxation is just a short trip away from the city center!
Accommodations aside, the charming streets of Yunokawa are also a treat to explore. Ichimonji ramen's main Hakodate store is located here, so you can be sure they'll serve up meals that live up to their name. Sushidokoro Kihara's Hokkaido bafun uni sea urchin is another option to consider, and this restaurant even comes with a Michelin recommendation. Or head down to the mysteriously retro Hakodate Ganso Bus Ramen to dine in style. Other local delights to try are grilled mutton and Hasegawa Store's skewered meat lunch boxes.
Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden can be found in Yunokawa as well. The greenhouse here has more than 3,000 types of tropical plants and is a place of warm greenery and colorful blooms even during the harshest of winters. Other places of interest here are Saruyama mountain, a karting circuit for you to test your skills in, a children's amusement plaza, and footbaths. The hot-tubbing monkeys in the garden are especially amusing to observe during winter season. Looks like the hot springs here have these cheeky monkeys' golden stamp of approval as well!
For something a little different, visit Trappistine Convent. This Western-style building is located in a quiet, serene environment that is perfect for taking walks in quiet contemplation. Since the area is only about a 10-minute car ride away from Hakodate Airport, you could easily spend a day sightseeing here, stay the night, and then fly off for your next destination without worrying about being late for your flight.
Food to try around Yunokawa Onsen
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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