Beer Tasting at ¥500 a pop at the Sapporo Beer Museum is a delight even for a non-guzzler like me. This ‘liquid gold’ Trio consists of (Right to Left) Kaitakushi – a mild beer with a sweet aftertaste which most ladies would like; Sapporo Classic- a medium bodied, pleasant swig & Black Label-a full bodied draft with a lingering hint of hops… my pick!
Sweet Premium Uni (Sea Urchin Roe), Salty Ikura (Salmon Roe) & slivers of fresh Salmon Donburi (Rice Bowl) with Miso soup – ¥2,698. Lunch at the Nijo Fish Market in Sapporo, Hokkaido.
Bite sized morsels of meat & vegetables cooked slowly on a griddle over charcoal fire – A ‘Genghis Khan’ experience in Sapporo, Hokkaido.
A ‘Genghis Khan’ BBQ is a must do for all hearty meat lovers. This mixed platter consists of beef, mutton & chicken which is cooked slowly on gridirons DIY. Great meal to enjoy on a cold night like we did at Noboribetsu, Hokkaido.
Vegetables like Aubergine, Onions, Cherry tomatoes, Shiitake mushrooms & Asparagus are also popular at Genghis Khan BBQ’s. Enjoying the golden brown & nicely seared meat at a leisurely paced dinner at Isekura Restaurant in Noboribetsu.
Tea time at Otaru’s Rokkatei a popular confectionery in Hokkaido. Tried their lovely Shukurimu (Cream Puff) for ¥85 which comes with a free coffee & their bestseller Marusei Butter Sand ¥115, a favourite omiyage (gift/souvenir). This biscuit sandwiches a butter cream & raisins filling laced with rum which was flavourful but a tad too sweet.
Rokkaitei’s melt in your mouth Cheese cake is sandwiched by Oreo-like biscuits. Fluffy & nicely balanced taste.
Early morning walk at Otaru’s main thoroughfare, Sakaimachi Hondori. No where else in the world is Sampuru (plastic food models) displayed as widely as in Japan. Handmade & custom tailored to match the establishment’s menu, this is a big & thriving business that rakes in billions of Yen annually. Fancy a Sundae, anybody?
This has to be the cutest & best Ramen experience in Hokkaido for me. I am not a big fan of Ramen but this ¥850 Shoyu Chashu Ramen (Soy sauce soupbase wheat noodles with succulent sliced pork) was not overly salty like most are & the noodles are ‘al dente’ & wonderfully delicious. This was a surprise find in the Date Jidaimura, Edo period Samurai Theme Park at Noboribetsu, Hokkaido.
Trying Himono (Sun-dried Fish) grilled over a Charcoal fire for the first time. This traditional custom was documented in ancient times during the Nara Period around 710-784 where people offered the dried fish to the gods. This Aji (Horse Mackerel) is ‘half-dried’ Hiraki style (pared open & lightly salted before drying but still leaving some moisture in it). The skin was crispy, the flesh firm yet moist & it was unexpectedly very tasty.
Kaiseki Breakfast at Oyado Kiyomizu Hotel in Noboribetsu. It is a cuisine art form that balances taste, texture, appearance & colours of the food. Only fresh seasonal ingredients are used & prepared in ways to enhance their flavour and the finished dishes are beautifully presented on plates for an aesthetic & appetizing meal.
Yummy Wagyu Beef Salad Set at a tiny “Mom & Pop’s” restaurant near Hotel Grand Toya, Lake Toya for about ¥1,200.
This succulent Wagyu Burger was piping hot & delicious. Seasoned the Japanese way, the lettuce, tomatoes & onions enhanced the culinary experience by leaps & bounds ¥650
An early morning visit to Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market) which was 10mins walk from my hotel. There was a wide array of fresh fruit & vegetables, preserved foodstuff & plenty of seafood; saw this interesting stall where you pay ¥900 to fish for your own squid which would be prepared as sashimi on the spot. It can’t get any fresher than this!
The Yubari King melon is grown in the area of Yubari, Hokkaido. This cantaloupe is very fragrant, refreshing & sweet; it is an expensive & yet popular gift Japanese like to give others on special occasions. Cutting the ripe orangey flesh into bite-sized portions with a metal spoon yielded lots of juice; it was trickling down my hand.
Awabi Donburi set (Abalone rice bowl) going for ¥2000 which comes with a mouth-watering Kani no supu (Crab Miso soup), Takuan (Daikon radish pickle) & Ika Tsukemono (Pickled Squid) & a dollop of Gari (finely grated Ginger). Scrumptious Brunch at Hakodate’s Asaichi – Morning Market.
Yes… Black Cheese! Furano Cheese Factory produces flavoured cheeses including Lavender, Melon, Original Camembert & this Squid Ink variety to suit different palates. 100g boxes for Original Camembert going for ¥875.
This light & fluffy cheesecake is worth the calories consumed. Tiny portion good for tasting only. You could easily pop the whole piece in & let it melt in your mouth! Furano Cheese Factory retails this at ¥115
The city of Furano started producing wine in 1972 & has since come a long ways. Every September there is a huge wine festival held here & it draws crowds where wine sampling is enjoyed with the local cuisines. Ciel White wine is semi-dry & refreshing like it claims here. It would be perfect when properly chilled in an ice bucket & paired with Hokkaido’s fresh seafood. A 500ml bottle goes for about ¥1200.
Ikura Donburi (Salmon Rice Bowl), Matsubagani Supu (Snow Crab Miso Soup) & Takuan (Pickled Radish). The soup was very flavourful, made sweet by the Crab & beautiful Scallion). Lunch Break at Sunayu Beach along the shores of Lake Kussharo ¥2,300
Kegani (Hairy Crab) is popular in Hokkaido & it being in season was a good enough reason to sample it. We picked the largest cooked ones going for ¥5,400 a piece against the live ones which was a lot pricier & bargained it down to ¥5,200. Kushiro lies on the eastern part of Hokkaido facing the Pacific Ocean & boasts one of the largest seafood catches in the nation. Perhaps fresher & definitely cheaper than in Tokyo, Osaka & even Sapporo!
Clockwise: Otoro (Tuna belly), Hotate (Scallop), Kanpachi (Greater Amberjack), Hamachi (Yellowtail/Japanese Amberjack), Kujira (Whale) , Kani no tamago (Crab roe) & Uni (Sea Urchin roe) in the centre; all for ¥2,450. Kushiro’s Washo Fish Market is the place to go for ‘Katte Don’ – a take your pick sashimi rice bowl. There are 4 sizes of Gohan (rice) ranging from ¥100-300 & then you decorate your bowls with choice morsels from the sashimi stalls. A Gastronomic treat…. the freshest, sweetest & best harvested from the sea that satisfies even the most discerning of palates. This is pure ecstasy!!!