Hokkaido’s Best Gastronomical Delights
One of the charms of Hokkaido is definitely its great food! Seafood of course, but Hokkaidoans are also good at dairy farming so they have delicious dairy products, such as cheese and milk, and sweets using those products. Restaurant menus feature an abundance of tasty items, ranging from ramen to “Genghis Khan” (grilled mutton dish). We would like to introduce some of the best gastronomical delights suggested by the att.JAPAN editor who visited Hokkaido this spring.
Seafood is the representative of Hokkaido food! Surrounded by three oceans – the Sea of Okhotsk, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan – it is a treasure trove of various kinds of fish and shellfish. Seafood such as salmon, scallop, crab, sea urchin and salmon roe are loved for seafood rice bowls and sushi.
You can eat fresh seafood on the spot at Nijo Market in Sapporo. Many restaurants open in the morning, so how about a rich breakfast with a seafood rice bowl?
Kaisendokoro Sakanaya no Daidokoro
Hokkaido has conveyor belt sushi at a high level, too! In Hokkaido you can go in, without a lot of waiting, those restaurants that you would have to wait for more than an hour in Tokyo.
Kaiten Sushi Toriton
Squid was in season when we visited Hokkaido in the beginning of May.
Sushi with kazunoko (herring roe) and kombu (kelp), surume (dried cuttlefish) matsumae pickled is one of Hokkaido’s specialties.
RamenYou can’t miss ramen in Hokkaido, either. There are many restaurants that were born in Hokkaido and have now become famous all over Japan. Miso of Hokkaido, soy sauce of Asahikawa and salt of Hakodate are called the “three best ramen” but actually miso, soy sauce and salt are the three major ramen flavors in any region of Hokkaido and most restaurants have them on offer at top level, so give them a try.
Sapporo Ramen is famous for its miso soup and thick wrinkled noodles. Its thick miso flavor goes well with its noodles. Corn and butter are some famous toppings.
On the other hand, Asahikawa is famous for its simple soy sauce ramen. Its specialty is the “double soup,” which is a blend of animal types made with chicken stock and pork bone and seafood types made with niboshi (dried sardines) and kombu. Moreover, in the cold Asahikawa region, many restaurants float lard on the surface so that the soup will not get cold too fast and this makes for a light yet rich taste.
Asahikawa Ramen Baikohken
Soba Buckwheat NoodlesThough it is often overshadowed by the popularity of ramen, Hokkaido is actually the largest producer of soba in Japan. It is famous for Nishin Soba, which is topped with “mikaki-nishin” (dried, sliced herring) simmered in sweet and salty sauce in a thick soy sauce broth. Nishin fishing was once a major industry in Hokkaido and it is a local dish with a long history that you should try once.
“Yabuhan” in Otaru is a long-established restaurant famous for its soba noodles made with buckwheat flour from Hokkaido. Especially, “Sea urchin Soba” filled with umami of sea urchin is superb. They also have various side dishes to go with sake, so we recommend that you to try it with Japanese sake from Hokkaido.
Yabuhan Unitojisoba (Sea urchin soba)
Yabuhan Komochi Kombu (Herring spawn on kelp), Nishinzuke (Pickled herring)
Genghis KhanThis is a local dish of Hokkaido where mutton is grilled with plenty of vegetables. Quite a few people of Hokkaido say that Genghis Khan is a must-have when people gather for cherry-blossom viewing. Put the savory grilled lamb in a special sauce made with soy sauce and garlic, and you can reduce the smell of the meat. It will also be perfect as a side dish with rice or with beer!
Cuisine of AinuAttracting attention due in part to the influence of manga and anime in recent years is the traditional cuisine of the Ainu people, who settled mainly in Hokkaido. There are many dishes that make full use of the blessings of nature such as deer, salmon and edible wild plants.
At “Umizora no haru” in Susukino, Sapporo, you can have a menu arranged from traditional Ainu cuisine.
The salmon “Luibe” (photo left) is frozen sashimi. When you put it in your mouth, it melts and makes a crunchy texture. “Chitatap” (center of the photo), minced salmon and other seafood. Tempura of gyoja garlic (photo right), an essential ingredient for flavoring food.
“Chiporoshito” made with potatoes and salmon roe
The traditional dish of the Ainu people, “Ohau” is a hot soup.
SweetsIn the “dairy kingdom of Hokkaido,” sweets made with fresh dairy products are also excellent. Especially the milky soft ice-cream is so delicious that you will want to eat it again and again.
There are various tastes and looks. Vivid purple has a lavender scent. There is also a “Shiroi Koibito Soft Ice-cream” that uses white chocolate from the popular Hokkaido sweet “Shiroi Koibito”.
Asahikawa-shi Asahiyama Zoo’s popular soft ice-cream comes with animal-bottom-shaped cookies and is cute!
We also experienced the sweets culture “Shime parfait” that is popular in Sapporo. In Sapporo, eating parfaits for the last dish after drinking alcohol, like eating ramen for the last dish, is popular mainly among young people. Nowadays there are many popular shops with long lines. There are various dishes such as light and low calorie ones suitable for night time, and ones with adult taste that go well with alcohol.
A bar with a chic atmosphere where you can enjoy both alcohol and sweets, “Bar plus Sweets Two Rings”
This day, we had a Golden Week-limited parfait made with homemade rum raisin ice cream and cheesecake. We also ordered a cocktail that went well with the parfait and spent a rich “adult time.”
There are many other Hokkaido delicious foods! Find your favorite.
Please be sure to check out the report of the Hokkaido Drive trip,too.
*The information herein is as of May 2019.