With its unspoiled natural beauty and fertile farmland, Hokkaido is famous for its fresh produce, from seasonal seafood to dairy products.
Hokkaido is renowned for its high quality seafood caught in its cold waters. Some areas are particularly famous for certain seafoods, such as uni (sea urchin) from Shakotan, ika (squid) from Hakodate, or oysters from Akkeshi which are notable for their delicate flavor and juicy flesh. A popular way to sample their seafood is to visit a fish market and have a donburi (rice bowl) topped with seafood like fresh salmon roe, squid, or uni for breakfast. Popular markets include Sapporo Nijo Market, Hakodate Morning Market, and Kushiro Washo Market.
Crabs are perhaps most popular in Hokkaido, and the prefecture has four types: kegani (horse hair crab), tarabagani (King crab), zuwaigani (snow crab), and hanasakigani (Hanasaki crab).
One of the most popular comfort foods is the Sapporo Ramen, and a famous place to sample it is Ramen Yokocho in Susukino. It’s lined with over 15 shops, and considered the birthplace of the miso ramen. Sapporo also created the Butter Corn Ramen – miso ramen topped with a small slab of butter and a spoonful of sweetcorn.
This is a barbecue dish consisting of (usually) mutton and vegetables cooked on a dome-shaped metal grill at the table. Lard is usually first melted to grease the dome before the ingredients are cooked, and then dipped in sauces before eating. The best place to enjoy it is at the beer hall of Sapporo Beer Museum, where you can have fresh beer with your dinner.
Another comfort food is soup curry, which is basically runny curry soup with your choice of meat, topped with various vegetables and served with rice. When ordering the dish, you first have to select your soup’s spice level, your meat (usually pork), and the size of your serving of rice. While the dish was born in Sapporo, you can find it almost anywhere in Hokkaido.
Ishikari is famous as the birthplace of its signature nabe (hotpot), containing ingredients like a mix of salmon meat and bones, tofu and vegetables (like cabbage and onions) stewed in a miso broth. This dish was named after the river where the salmon return for breeding. Pepper is sprinkled on top of the nabe, and in some restaurants butter is added to the broth; this dish is usually served with a bowl of rice.
Hokkaido produces more than half of Japan’s dairy products, hence you can find good quality cheeses and soft-serve ice cream – with flavors like melon and green tea – all over the prefecture. In addition, confectionery makers create everything from the hugely popular Shiroi Koibito, a thin white chocolate biscuit, to decadent chocolate concoctions made popular by Royce.
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