Hokkaido - adored by gourmands for its unique delicacies brimming with fresh ingredients! To get the most out of this expansive food scene, we recommend a visit to the all-encompassing capital city of Sapporo.
From local delights like miso ramen to a flourishing sushi culture, if you’re visiting Sapporo, you can’t leave without trying the following!
1. Sapporo Ramen: Miso Ramen
Sapporo is the birthplace of miso ramen! Medium-thick wavy noodles swim in a rich miso-based broth capped with toppings like bean sprouts and onion. The sweet, juicy ingredients and rich soup culminate in an explosive mouthful you’ll never forget!
With many outlets, including corn, butter, and extra spice, along with customizable menus matching your preference, it’s impossible to get bored!
The Susukino and Sapporo Station areas, in particular, overflow with Sapporo ramen outlets, allowing travelers to taste their way through each store’s specialty. Try a few and discover your favorite!
One of Hokkaido’s most nourishing dishes, jingisukan, sees lamb and vegetables grilled to perfection on a specially-designed hotpot.
This unique hotpot has a distinctive elevated center resembling a mountain, which is used for grilling the meat. The vegetables are placed under the mountain around the rim, allowing the juice from the meat to run down and be soaked up, doubling the deliciousness!
A rarity on mainland Japan, the meat used in jingisukan is lamb, which is exceptionally soft and succulent, combined with mutton.
Occasionally, you may also find dishes with Hokkaido Suffolk sheep, which has little odor and a sweet fatty texture, making it popular with those not used to sheep. You can usually only find Suffolk sheep on the menu at jingisukan specialty shops, so if you see it, don’t hesitate!
Hokkaido is the unrivaled Kingdom of Seafood, with sushi and kaisendon the king and queen!
In addition to fancy joints, Hokkaido is packed with cheaper, yet no less delicious revolving sushi where you can eat without any fuss! If you just want to gorge on fresh sushi in peace, revolving sushi is the way to go!
Kaisendon seafood bowls, on the other hand, consist of fresh seafood, delightfully arranged over a bowl of rice. Satisfyingly filling, they are an equally tasty way to relish Hokkaido’s legendary seafood. You can often spot them at seafood markets.
Sushi and kaisendon can also be ordered at izakaya. While the quality can be hit or miss, this is a good option for those wanting to enjoy a variety of other dishes and drinks to pair with your seafood. If you value freshness, however, nothing beats a specialty store!
4. Soup Curry
Born in Sapporo, the beloved soup curry is packed with tasty vegetables soaked in a rich broth of addictive spice. Perhaps the highlight, however, is the helping of chicken so soft it melts with the slightest touch.
There are also plenty of varieties, including soup curry with pork or Hamburg steak, or those with extra vegetables and mushrooms are thrown in for a healthier alternative. Each store has its own completely different take, always making it a surprise. Definitely don’t try it just once!
Most renditions also use Hokkaido-produced ingredients, allowing visitors to sample the local flavors all in one dish.
In addition to its celebrated dairy industry, Hokkaido also produces a staggering amount of beef, pork, and chicken, which is sent all throughout the prefecture. One of the best ways to enjoy Hokkaido meat is at yakiniku barbecue restaurants, of which Sapporo overflows.
Stringent about their ingredients, customers can be sure they’re always getting the finest at reasonable prices - with some even offering ‘all-you-can-eat!’
In addition to the meat itself, many provide unique sauces to fully release the potential flavor. With bibimbap, soup, and more, the side-menus are equally as tantalizing!
No Hokkaido seafood journey is complete without crab. Crab markets spread throughout the prefecture are filled with fresh catches year-round, allowing a fix of Hokkaido crab whenever you visit!
Each species has its own particular season, such as the red king crab in autumn and winter, snow crab and hanasaki crab from spring to summer, and the horsehair crab being delicious all year round. From boiling in water, lavish hotpots, or eating it raw as sashimi, there’s a heap of ways to dig in! We also recommend kani miso, which is the crab’s innards. Highly nutritious with a rich flavor and appealing texture, it’s a popular choice for locals.
You can feast on crab in Hokkaido at specialized crab outlets or at izakaya. If you want to feast without worrying about price, search for a restaurant with an all-you-can-eat option.
7. Shime Parfait
Did you know that, after a big night out on the town drinking, residents of Sapporo will finish off their fun with a parfait? This fascinating culture, only found in Sapporo, is the reason why the nightlife hub of Susukino is packed with parfait outlets serving customers late into the night. You can even order one at an izakaya!
As Hokkaido boasts a lucrative dairy and farming industry, the ice cream is often made from fresh milk complemented by seasonal Hokkaido ingredients. Parfaits made to be paired with alcohol, along with other unique menu items make it a fun and delicious way to cap off an evening!
As Hokkaido produces much of the ingredients needed for sweets, the dessert industry has flourished! Hokkaido chocolatiers, in particular, are loved across the country, with ganache raw chocolate, chocolate cookies, and other delights tempting visitors with their sophisticated sweetness.
Sapporo itself is full of both high-end painstakingly crafted chocolate goodies balanced by more casual chocolate cafes. There are also plenty of original delights you can’t find anywhere else. Chocolate-lovers, head to Sapporo first!
Written by: Minna no Kotoba-sha
The information presented in this article is accurate as of February 2021.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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