I was uncertain about many things before moving to Hokkaido. One of them was -What will I eat? Although, I was familiar with conventional Japanese delicacies, I was worried, if it will be easy to get used to it. My partner eased my fears. He assured me that Hokkaido’s food is delicious. After moving, I found out he was wrong. The food in Hokkaido is not just delicious, it is phenomenal. You might know, Hokkaido is famous for its seafood and milk. However, it is not just about seafood donburi and softserve ice cream. Hokkaido’s rich soil and cold weather yields the finest quality of fresh produce. Do not miss these foods when you are Hokkaido.
Good seafood is notoriously seasonal. Luckily, the seafood variety here offers something for every season. Crowd favourites are Snow crabs (Zuwagani- ズワイガニ) and Oysters (カキ- Kaki) in Winter. Sea Urchin (うに – Uni) are good in Summer. Squids （いか- Ika）and Salmon（鮭- Sake） tastes best in Autumn. Botan Shrimp （ボタンエビ- Botan Ebi） and Scallops（ホ タテ貝 – Hotate） are mind blowing in Spring. Octopus（たこ- Taco) and Atka Mackerel (ホッケ – Hokke) are available in all seasons. For more information on where to eat them, check out my Hokkaido seafood guide post.
In Hokkaido, sushi, sashimi and kaisendon are the most common ways to eat seafood. Squid burger at Lucky Pierott Burger in Hakodate (May – October) and Notsuke Peninsula’s award winning giant Hotate (Scallop) burger in Betsukai town with a glass of creamy Jumbo milk are other popular ways too. In Betsukai, Futaba Sushi is a good place to try the Hotate burger.
Photo Credit steeps.jp
Jingisukan (Japanese pronunciation of Genghis Khan) was presumably brought to Japan during the Mongol invasion. Thinly cut slices of high quality lamb is cooked with pig fat along with plenty of fresh vegetables and a special sauce. It is a crowd-pleasing dish for Summer Beer Gardens outside, and warm wintry insides. Sapporo Beer Garden is one of the most popular restaurants for this dish in Sapporo. A tabehoudai (all you can eat) and nomihoudai (all you can drink) costs around 4000 JPY. Daruma in Susukino is another famous Jingisukan restaurant among Sapporians. Click for directions to Daruma.
Photo Credit livedoor.blogimg.jp
3.Soup Curry (スープカレ):
Soup Curry should not be confused with the regular Japanese Curry. They are miles apart in their taste and texture. It is a healthy, spicy and soupy delight with meat, vegetables and a side of rice. I like my soup curry with a glass of freshly churned lassi. To know more about its history and mystery click Soup Curry. Read my review of 7 Soup Curry restaurants in Sapporo to know where to get this soupy pleasure.
Ramen is one of the most famous foods from Japan. It is a soupy noodle dish containing a meat or fish based broth. A variety of toppings such as Chashu (roasted) Pork, Nori (Seaweed), Egg, Kamaboko ( steamed fish cakes also known as Naruto), Menma (preserved bamboo shoots), Negi (green onions) and Corn (specially in Hokkaido) add further taste to the soup.
Types of Ramen:
Sapporo is known for its Miso (Soybean paste) Ramen . The other two types of Ramen are Shoyu and Shio. Shoyu is Soy sauce based clear broth. Asahikawa is renowned for Shoyu Ramen. Salt-based Shio, is usually made of chicken broth. Hakodate in Hokkaido is well recognised for its Shio Ramen.
Where to eat good Ramen?
I love the rich and complex flavour of Miso Ramen. Ramen Sora in Susukino is a good place to enjoy a steaming bowl of Ramen. Some of the other excellent Ramen eateries in Sapporo are Menyasaimi (About 5 minutes walk from Misono Subway Station on the Toho line towards Fukuzumi) and Ramen Kyowakoku on 10th floor of ESTA at Sapporo JR Station. At Ramen Kyowakoku, you will find eight acclaimed Ramen restaurant branches from Hokkaido at one place. If you can’t decide on where to eat at Kyowakoku, just find the longest queue and make it longer. I consider a long queue as a sign of mouthwatering ramen. Thanks to Stan in one of the comments below, for pointing out another good place Aji no Sanpei, the birthplace of Sapporo Ramen.
5.Hokkaido Milk Products:
Dairy products of Hokkaido have a strong position in the Japanese market. The rich, buttery, creamy, or light flavours of Hokkaido milk products will surely wow you. Hokkaido Soft serve Ice cream is one of the top must eat items for anyone visiting Hokkaido. Kitakaro and Panjyu (ぱんじゅう) in Otaru are well known for their softserves. Click to plan a day trip to Otaru. For a unique Ice-cream eating experience visit Milk Mura (ミルク村) in Sapporo. With a beautiful Ice-cream bar ambience to it, Milk Mura serves Vanilla soft serve with a choice of more than hundred varieties of liquor. The number of liquors you can select depends on your preferred menu options. There are three options in the menu which costs about 1400 JPY, second serve of ice cream is free. I recommend a reservation (+81-11-219-6455 Tuesdays – Sundays 12:00 pm -11:00 pm) as it is usually crowded. A little hard to find, this Ice-cream bar is on the 6th floor of the New Hokusei Building in Susukino. Click for directions.
6.Hokkaido Fresh produces:
Potatoes, Asparagus, Sweet Corns, Pumpkins, Apples, Melons and Grapes represent the first-rate quality of Hokkaido’s fresh produce in Japan. Potatoes (じゃがいも- Jyagaimo) are best enjoyed as a fast food staple in the form of Ageimo (deep fried potatoes inside a hot cake like sweet batter). Nakayama Mountain Pass rest stop (on Highway 230 from Sapporo towards Niseko) sells the most enticing Ageimos I have ever had.
Photo Credit kutteyarou.jp
- Hokkaido is a leader in Japan for growing Asparagus (アスパラ- Asupara）. The first ever canned White Asparagus in Asia was grown in Hokkaido. Summer is the best season for Asparagus in Hokkaido.
- Melons in Hokkaido are popular as gift items. You might have heard of the Yubari King Melon (king of all fruits in Japan). It is the most expensive melon variety around. A standard Yubari Melon can cost more than 10,000 JPY. Summer is the best season to enjoy some delectable melons. We enjoyed our first Yubari melon at Tomita Melon House in Furano. Click here to know more about planning a day-trip to Furano.
- Sweet corn is another summer time favourite of Hokkadians. From July to October, you can see corn wagons selling succulent boiled and barbecued corns at Odori Park.
- For Grapes, autumn is the best season. You will find more than 12 varieties of grapes in Hokkaido.
I now have a never ending war to fight with my waistline, because of the food in Hokkaido. However, life is best lived by experiencing the magic of cuisines from around the world. So, why not enjoy the crème de la crème of food in Japan while you can.
Which is your favourite Hokkaido food? Did I miss something ? Let me know by commenting below
Thank you for reading