6 Famous Must-Try Foods that Represent the Spirit of Hokkaido!

  • FOOD
  • Hokkaido, known for being Japan’s ski haven as well as its flower fields in the spring, faces boundaries on the Sea of Okhotsk, Sea of Japan, and the Pacific Ocean. Where food is concerned, seafood automatically comes to mind. However, in addition to the freshest catch from the ocean, there are several other Hokkaido specialties that are delicacies of the land!

    Soup Curry


    Author’s photo

    Curry is surprisingly extremely prevalent in Japan, albeit a sweeter, milder stew-like Japanese version, as opposed to the spicier Indian curry that packs a punch of heat. Sapporo however, is the birthplace of soup curry, which has the consistency of broth rather than thick gravy that is usually associated with curry. It leans toward the Indian style, combining more spices and herbs than typical Japanese curry. Served with white or brown rice, the curry usually comes with chicken and vegetables, or other seasonal items. The type of curry base and level of spiciness may also be customized.

    Genghis Khan

    The Genghis Khan barbeque dish is succulent lamb or mutton that is grilled on a hot plate or skillet that is slightly raised in the middle and resembles a dome. It was so named as lamb was thought by the Japanese to be the meat commonly eaten by Mongolian soldiers. The Japanese government had a plan in 1918 to increase the number of sheep reared for wool; all were demolished subsequently except in Hokkaido and the locals began eating lamb. Vegetables such as cabbage and beansprouts are layered on the outer ends of the skillet. The juices from the meat flow outward on the dome-shaped skillet, and the vegetables get grilled with more flavor.

    Ramen: Miso Butter Corn and Ebi

    There are many types of ramen across the regions of Japan, namely miso, salt, soy sauce and tonkotsu. Sapporo is famous for miso ramen, which has a thick chicken and/or pork bone and miso broth. It is topped with boiled corn and a pat of butter. Ebi ramen, which has a prawn base, carries a fragrance of crustacean that is reminiscent of a bite of the ocean. The famous ramen alley in Susukino, Hokkaido, provides a plethora of options including a prawn and scallop ramen which has seen the likes of food critics including Anthony Bourdain.


    Not a dish per se, the haskap is a honeysuckle berry that is known in Hokkaido and Russia for its antioxidants and vitamins. It looks like an elongated blueberry and is tartly sweet. The Ainu know the hashikapu as “the many presents on the branch”. The berries are eaten fresh, preserved with sugar or salt, or made into Japanese shochu or rice wine. They are also added to flavor tea, wine, or confectionary.


    Made from the Brazilian nut, the guarana flavor is found in drinks and confectionary. The Hokkaido Guarana and Ezo Brown Bear cider are guarana drinks that taste somewhat like Red Bull. Quite yummy for a sugary caffeine fix!

    Fresh from the sea

    The last point that deserves some mention is the excellent seafood from the coasts of Hokkaido. The king crab, uni, scallops, prawns and various fish and roe that is eaten sashimi-style or grilled, will bring your taste buds to a senseless high. Hairy crab, king crab, glowing ikura salmon roe, marinated sacs of mentaiko and other seafood may also be bought and properly packed at the airport.

    The fresh seafood is a must, but the others on this list provide an alternative perspective on Hokkaido culture and cuisine, and should definitely not be missed out on either.

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