Whether you're visiting in summer for the natural splendor of the flora, or in winter for the annual snow festival – knowing where to eat in Sapporo’s culinary world is key. Sapporo entices food lovers to its local food scene with delicious fresh produce from the Hokkaido farmlands and surrounding seas. The Japanese consider food preparation an art, and rooting out the true masterpieces takes a local eye. With local ingredients and every dish freshly prepared, it’s easy to get hooked on Japanese cuisine. But not as easy to find the best places to eat it, which is why I’ve put together this Sapporo food guide. I’ll show you through the Hokkaido capital by way of your taste buds, taking you to Sapporo street food, cheap eats, and high-end restaurants. You'll never be bored dining out in this delicious city!
Ramen Street in Susukino
The Hokkaido region is the epicenter of ramen culture in Japan. With many ramen restaurants in Hokkaido, each with their style, flavor, and unique touch, it can be difficult knowing which to try. Many can be found if you explore Susukino’s famous Ramen Alley, but don’t get drawn into a tourist trap. It’s always good to know exactly where to go to get the most delicious and freshest ramen. Ebisoba Ichigen, meaning “One vision for Shrimp Ramen” is located in the Susukino area of Sapporo city. The restaurant serves up a unique type of ramen in Hokkaido, and with three soup flavors to try from: salt-based, soy sauce based and miso-based (most popular), this popular spot has something on offer for everyone.
As the birthplace of Soup Curry, Sapporo has a huge array of restaurants throughout the city offering the dish; each providing a different flavor, atmosphere, and version of the bowl. Soup curry comes with broccoli, carrots, potatoes, eggs, rice, and various meaty toppings like chicken. With this tasty dish, you have the option to choose your soup, your dish, your spice level, your toppings and finally, your rice size. Soup Curry Garaku is a very popular soup curry restaurant. A soup curry specialty store boasting Japanese-style dumplings, carefully crafted from natural ingredients. The soup stock is a rich mix of chicken, pork bones and plenty of fresh vegetables, giving it a hearty and complex flavor. The soup curry called “soft chicken legs and yasai” is a popular menu option, full of tasty fried vegetables and juicy, flavorful thighs. The five-grain rice with grilled cheese is the perfect companion for this soup, excellent for warming up body and soul.
Jingisukan BBQ from Matsuo Jingisukan
Team your beer drinking with a classic Jingisukan BBQ at the Matsuo Jingisukan, a restaurant that comes with a history and serves up all the deliciousness of Hokkaido's soft lamb. My recommendation for lunch is the “3 kinds of eating plus lunch”, where you can eat 3 kinds of Jingisukan. The name Jingisukan is a play on the name of Mongolian king, Genghis Khan and the dish is rumored to date back to the Mongolian soldiers. It's said they cooked their lamb by placing the meat on top of their helmets before placing their helmets over an open fire. Often the restaurant allows you to choose the cut of meat. The meal can be served with mixed vegetables; onions, carrots, asparagus, pumpkin, a spicy hit of paprika and Japanese spring onions.
Seafood and Fish Fresh From the Market
Sapporo is synonymous with incredible seafood and fresh fish thanks to its location flush with the sea. A trip to the city would not be complete without trying the local crab, uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon) shrimp, and – yum! – every kind of fresh sashimi. Head to Kita No Gurumetei, one of the best crab restaurants in Sapporo, located in the Sapporo Wholesale Market. The market is popular with Sapporo locals, with around 60 stalls including restaurants and wholesale stores. Kita No Gurumetei serves an all-in-one dish of Sapporo’s seafood specialties; crab, sea urchin, salmon roe and seasonal fish. Perfect for foodies with a love for trying the best produce of the sea. As well as this, the restaurant is home to an enticing kaisen don – seafood on a bowl of rice.
Sapporo Beer at a Heritage Site
Sapporo Beer, one of the oldest and most popular beer brands in the world, has been brewed in Sapporo since 1877. Head to Sapporo Beer Garden, located within the Sapporo Garden Park, a “beer town” made up of heritage red brick buildings. The Sapporo Beer Museum, found inside, was opened in 1987 and is a former brewery and distillery from the Meiji Period. The museum introduces the history and development of Sapporo beer in Japan and the process of beer making. For a taste of Sapporo’s world-famous beer, try the all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink option at the Sapporo Beer Garden. The main Kessel Hall dining area has a unique ambiance, with a brewing cauldron dating to 1912.
Soft cream from Hakko Gakuen
Thanks to the abundance of thriving dairy farms in the Hokkaido region, the available dairy products such as cheese and milk are famous for being especially fresh, creamy and delicious. Among them, the dairy products at Hakko Gakuen are by far the creamiest! A bit of a trip from Sapporo city center, the dreamy soft-serve ice-cream whipped up at Hachiman Gakuen is well worth the trip! Made with farm-fresh milk, the ice-cream is so natural that many locals characterize it for being thirst-quenching, compared to other ice-creams. Be warned – this famous soft-serve is only available during the summer season from late April to early November; so time your visit well! Among the unbeatable dairy products, Hakko Gakuen also sells fresh vegetables, which are incredibly popular – so get there early before they sell out. You can buy the product from Hakkou Gakuen in many surrounding municipalities, so keep an eye out for this delicious farm-fresh dairy wherever you go!
Jaga-bata from Kirin Beer Garden
Hokkaido is Japan's number one farming region for potatoes, with a production volume of around 76-95% of Japan’s potato supply coming from this area. Some of the most delicious culinary inventions have been made from this beautifully versatile root vegetable, one of these being jaga-bata – jacket potato with butter. It might seem simple, but in typical Japanese fashion, this is a buttered potato like you’ve never seen it. A combination of the creamiest butter, the tastiest potatoes, and the perfect balance of salt and soy – makes this the fluffiest version of butter potatoes you will ever eat. The best are from Kirin Beer Garden, where you can enjoy your potatoes with local Kirin beer. While the jaga-bata is not to be missed, the menu also offers other enticing eats like sushi, crab, and Japanese black beef from Shiraoi – the highly sought after Shiraoi Wagyu!
Sushi at Ichiyaboshito Kaisendon Dekitateya
The sushi scene in Sapporo is world-class. With freshly caught seafood from the surrounding seas, you’re in for a sushi feast of incomparable freshness in Sapporo. Head to Ichiyaboshito Kaisendon Dekitateya inside the Sapporo Clock Tower for sushi so fresh you can see it still swimming around the giant tanks that are scattered around the shop. The sashimi on rice is a winner, but there are other seasonal treasures of Hokkaido available such as extra-large shrimp, whose amazing size is disproportionate to the reasonable price. The clock tower is a point of interest, with an appearance similar to something out of a wild-west film. The wooden structure and features of the Clock Tower are typical of American houses during colonization of the western frontier – not something you would expect to see in the middle of Japan!
Excellent sweets from Rokkatei
When talking about Sapporo’s gourmet eats, it would be a sin to miss out on the sweet side! In particular, two kinds of sweets that can only be purchased from the Rokkatei Sapporo Main Store or Obihiro Main Store. This is a paradise for those with a sweet tooth, with a bounty of delicious, beautifully wrapped and interesting sweets on display. The Rokkatei Sapporo Main Store is near Sapporo Station South Exit and sells probably my favorite sweet treat from Rokkatei, the Marusei ice cream sandwich. Another firm favorite is the ultra-yummy crispy pie. Fresh berries and cream cheese covered in white chocolate ganache, sandwiched by crispy pie rectangles. The product is made on the spot by the staff and placed in a really cute box. Unless frozen immediately (or eaten of course!) it has a short shelf life of just 3 hours! A good thing too, or else you’d be loading up your luggage full of these!
Late-night treats from Parfait, coffee, liquor, Sato
The name might be a mouthful, but trust me when I say that so are the sweet delights on offer at this truly excellent dessert bar, which I could not recommend more highly. Parfait, coffee, liquor, Sato, as the name suggests, is a cafe bar in the back alley of Sapporo, Takikojiall and is all about sweets, coffee, and liquor (sake). Offering an upmarket experience, this luxe nighttime cafe and dessert bar is entirely a feast for the eyes, from the gorgeous design of the menu and interior to the presentation of the delightful eats. Certainly one for your Instagram feed, the dessert creations on the menu are almost too ornate to eat, all served in long-stemmed variations of a martini glass, with layers of parfait and lavish garnishings. Known for its commitment to high-quality coffee, liquor, and parfaits, this is a top choice for indulging your midnight cookie monster, in style.
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