Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital city, offers its visitors some of Japan's finest restaurants, as well as a whole host of foods and dishes unique to the mountainous island of Hokkaido that draw in people from all over Japan and the rest of the world. This land of the Japanese north more than 50 Michelin star restaurants, with many of those being based in the city of Sapporo. Known for its fantastic range of fresh seafood, delicious ramen, and lamb dishes, there's plenty for the food lover to dig into.
Japanese Ramen Noodle Lab Q
Japanese Ramen Noodle Lab Q is an incredibly popular contemporary ramen restaurant that you'll find right by the iconic Sapporo Clock Tower. All of their noodles are homemade and the menu is refreshed often with new variations of ramen to try. This is a perfect place to try shoyu ramen which combines eight types of soy in the broth topped with melt-in-the-mouth chashu on top, Make sure to order some of their handmade wontons as an extra topping.
Aji no Sanpei
This famous restaurant is thought to be the one that started the miso ramen trend in Japan. Their ramen is served with curly chijire-men noodles, which are also thought to have originated at Aji no Sanpei, and is topped with pork, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, and green onions. Located in central Sapporo near Odori Park, the restaurant also has a kid’s menu which makes it particularly family-friendly and a spicy Tetsubi ramen option for anyone looking to warm up after a day exploring.
A visit to Ramen Alley Susukino, that dates back to the 1950s, should be on any food lover’s Sapporo itinerary but with so many restaurants to choose from it’s difficult to know where to start. Mendokoro Toripan is one of the few places you can find chicken paitan ramen, which is similar to creamy tonkotsu but totally chicken-based. One of the most popular dishes is the Toripan Shio dish as the salt brings out the rich chicken flavor. Toppings are kept simple with added extras including tea egg and nori.
Washoku to Sushi Nijo
For outstanding sushi and sashimi that also happens to be reasonably priced, Washoku to Sushi Nijo is a great choice. The restaurant fetches fresh seafood from Nijo Market daily which is just five minutes' walk making it very convenient for sightseeing. They also offer an extensive sake list and are happy to suggest the best pairing for your meal. The restaurant has a spacious, relaxed atmosphere, and offers lunch sets that make it difficult to resist dropping by.
Soup Curry is a typical dish in Hokkaido and while there are no noodles involved, it is a broth-based dish that leaves you as satisfied as any bowl of ramen. Suage+ makes their soup curry with local and seasonal Hokkaido ingredients and typically, your dish will include some form of meat, often skewered, and a selection of fresh vegetables such as mushroom, lotus root, eggplant, and pak choi and is also topped with an egg. There are also just vegetable bowls available. You’ll be able to pick the spice intensity of your soup and what broth you’d like to try from their original to squid ink soup.
Hyosetsu no Mon
A crab restaurant with a long history, Hyosetu no Mon offers a huge range of dishes serving a wide range of crab while also covering a wide range of Japanese cuisine. Dishes that you wouldn’t normally expect to include crab can be found here using species such as snow crab, hair crab, and horsehair crab. Some of the highlights include crab shabu shabu, crab tempura, and crab sashimi. They also serve well-priced lunch sets if you’d like a variety.
Hakodate Uni Murakami
If you heard about the sea urchin craze in Hokkaido and want to try the delicacy uni donburi then this restaurant is ideal. Generous with the fresh sea urchin which covers the rice underneath, no urchin fan will be disappointed. They also offer other ways to try it such as shell roasted sea urchin served in its spiky exterior, urchin served in green tea with rice, as a gratin, or in a croquette. A seafood restaurant that picks one thing and does it well is always a treat. An English menu is available as well as drinks such as sake or beer.
Gathering together for a steaming hotpot is one of life’s great pleasures and a perfect opportunity to try the regional dish ishikari nabe. This creamy salmon hotpot combines seafood with fresh vegetables like shitake, cabbage, carrot, potato, and leek in a simmering miso broth. Isari offers several other hotpot options if you’re not a salmon fan such as their duck hotpot or mixed vegetable hotpot. Sides include classic dishes such as rice with green tea, traditional and grilled onigiri, grilled fish, and skewers.
Jingisukan Daruma (Daruma Rokuyon)
Lamb is a staple dish in Hokkaido since the introduction to sheep to the area in the late 1800s and one of the island's most prominent dishes is Genghis Khan lamb barbecue (pronounced Jingisukan). There are a few stories behind the name but it’s generally thought to be due to the concave barbecue which resembles a Mongolian soldier’s helmet which they would sometimes use as a portable barbecue. Endlessly satisfying, this is a perfect meal to enjoy as a group. Daruma is one of the longest-serving Jingisukan restaurants and provides excellent quality mutton and vegetables to sizzle as well as delicious dipping sauces and rice sides. The restaurant provides English menus and stays open late.
Nijo market is a haven for seafood lovers with freshly caught fish prepared at various exciting vendors. One of the must-try dishes here is seafood donburi and is best tried at Donburi Chaya, a cozy store found tucked away in the market. Largely popular due to word of mouth, it’s unsurprising when you check the menu and realize there are more than 30 different seafood rice bowls to choose from as well as seasonal menus and daily specials. The bowls are beautifully presented and offer something for everyone, but if you really just want a whole variety make sure to try the tairyo bowl or choose two mini bowls instead.