This is how I ate my way around snowy Sapporo | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Photo by Kwon Youn from Unsplash

The best things I ate in Sapporo were mostly serendipitous finds



As March unfolded, Hokkaido reached the final stretch of winter, turning the city into a magical wonderland that ignited my excitement as someone experiencing snow for the first time.

Driven by a longing to fully embrace its snowy charm and indulge in the local cuisine, I embarked on a journey to Hokkaido, the northern jewel of Japan. 

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, presents an array of culinary treasures enough to excite food lovers. From the comforting warmth of soup curry to the abundance of scallops, snow crab, and uni, and even the tantalizing sizzle of jingisukan—grilled lamb accompanied by a variety of dipping sauces—Hokkaido delivers a dining experience that delights the senses.

Here are five of my must-try dining spots around the city.

Teshikaga Ramen in Sapporo Ramen Yokocho

Entering Sapporo Ramen Alley is like discovering a hidden culinary sanctuary. Amid the hustle of the city, patrons gather around steaming bowls, their faces aglow with lantern light and neon signs.

Nestled within a collection of tiny ramen shops, each exuding its own unique charm, is Teshikaga Ramen. With space for no more than 15 customers, this cozy establishment exudes an atmosphere of intimacy and authenticity that is hard to find anywhere else.

As you step inside, you’re immediately greeted by the warmth of the fire blazing in the open kitchen, where the ramen master stands behind the counter, ready to perform his culinary magic. If there’s one dish that steals the spotlight, it’s their signature barbeque pork butter miso ramen.

Barbeque pork butter miso ramen
Barbeque pork butter miso ramen

This culinary masterpiece combines the robust flavors of barbecued pork, a hearty miso-based broth, the savory depth of fermented soybean paste, and a rich creamy butter. Each mouthful of noodles is a journey through layers of umami goodness. Topped with fresh scallions, bamboo shoots, and a perfectly cooked egg, this ramen leaves a lasting impression on discerning palates and warm hearts alike.

Tonkatsu Aoki

Stumbling upon this tonkatsu restaurant turned out to be a delightful surprise. Tucked away in the bustling streets of the Susukino district, Tonkatsu Aoki’s unassuming exterior hid the culinary delights awaiting inside. Enticed by the inviting aroma, we walked in to find a cozy ambiance and friendly staff. 

Tonkatsu Aoki, which originally opened in Kamata, Ota Ward in 2010, prides itself on sourcing Hayashi SPF Pork, which is celebrated for its tender texture and exquisite flavor. For a more personalized dining experience,  customers can choose their preferred cut and customize it to their desired balance of leanness and richness.

Hayashi pork tonkatsu
Hayashi pork tonkatsu

Each crispy-coated tonkatsu is meticulously prepared using large-grain fresh breadcrumbs. Elevating the flavors even further, the restaurant offers a selection of rock salts, including the popular Kala Namak rock salt known for its pungent aroma that brings out the umami of the pork. Additionally, their tonkatsu sauce, infused with wine and karashi mustard, delivers a sweet and refreshing taste with subtle fruity undertones.

This tonkatsu experience remains etched in my memory as each bite was a symphony of flavors and textures, with the crispy coating giving way to succulent, melt-in-your-mouth pork. Even now, I find myself reminiscing about the experience and longing to relive it once again.

Gindaco Takoyaki

Takoyaki stands out as one of Japan’s quintessential snacks. Its popularity is undeniable, as you can find takoyaki stands throughout the country.

Despite the plethora of options available, we were determined to find the ultimate takoyaki experience (outside Osaka). After some exploration, we stumbled upon a modest takoyaki stand tucked away in a corner.

As we approached the stand, we peered through the glass and were captivated by the sight of a skilled chef expertly crafting takoyaki with finesse. Turns out Gindaco is the largest and most popular takoyaki franchise in Japan, and for good reason.

Behind-the-scenes of Gindaco Takoyaki
Behind-the-scenes of Gindaco Takoyaki

Each ball sizzled and automatically spun on the hot griddle, gradually achieving that crispy exteriors and gooey centers to sink your teeth into the grilled octopus inside. 

Gyuzen Sapporo Ekimae Doriten

After an exhilarating game of bowling and seeking refuge from the cold, we stumbled upon a hidden gem: Gyuzen Sapporo Ekimae Doriten. Of course, when you see a sign that says “Eat all you can Wagyu for 6000 yen” you just have to go in—well, we did later when they finally opened.

Little did we know that this impromptu decision would lead us to discover one of the best-kept secrets in Sapporo.

Gyuzen Sapporo Ekimae Doriten’s "eat all you can Wagyu for 6000 yen"
Gyuzen Sapporo Ekimae Doriten’s “eat all you can Wagyu for 6000 yen”

We were treated to a feast of succulent wagyu beef, meticulously sliced and served alongside an array of fresh vegetables and savory broth for sukiyaki. The indulgence reaches a fever pitch when you dip the sweet, tender beef into a rich egg yolk that elevates each bite into a symphony of flavors that linger on the palate long after the meal is over—and all that for less than P2,500. 

Moreover, Gyuzen provides extra choices for diners seeking to enhance their experience. You can opt to include all-you-can-eat snow crab and sushi, adding even more value to the already outstanding offerings.

Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo breakfast buffet

Partaking in a Japanese breakfast buffet, like the one from Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo, is a culinary journey in itself. Set within the tranquil ambiance of a traditional Japanese dining area, patrons are presented with an extensive selection of local delicacies and ingredients sourced from Hokkaido.

What sets this Japanese breakfast buffet apart is its tribute to Hokkaido’s seasonal abundance. Ultimately, a Japanese breakfast buffet transcends mere sustenance; it offers an immersive culinary experience that invites guests to savor the flavors of Hokkaido while embracing the spirit of culinary exploration.

breakfast buffet
Photo from Keio Plaza Hotel

Whether venturing into new culinary territory or indulging in beloved classics, each bite is a celebration of Hokkaido’s culinary treasures. From the tantalizing sweetness of summer fruits to the robust earthiness of autumn mushrooms, each dish is meticulously prepared to showcase the finest offerings of Hokkaido throughout the year.

For those craving adventure, the buffet provides an opportunity to sample novel and exotic flavors. Indulge in grilled Hokkaido scallops or relish the region’s dairy products, such as fluffy scrambled eggs and velvety yogurts.

Simultaneously, the buffet caters to those seeking familiar comforts. Enjoy the comforting aroma of freshly baked bread made from locally grown wheat or savor bowls of rice topped with Hokkaido-style delicacies like ikura (salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin).

Truly, the perfect start to a day of exploration.

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