The hallmark of Hokkaido cuisine lies in its sheer diversity, but one thing’s for sure, the Japanese island’s fresh seafood, dairy products, and high-quality produce are bar none.
1. Omelet curry
There’s nothing quite as comforting as Japanese whey curry topped with a blanket of wobbly egg omelet, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Kumagera. Located in Furano, the restaurant serves a savory omelet curry cooked with local vegetables and homemade sausages (price ranges between 1,500 to 2000 yen). Famous in Hokkaido, omelet curry has a light consistency and is often prepared with fall-off-the-bone meat.
Where to try: Kumagera (3-22 Hinodemachi, Furano, Hokkaido)
2. Abashiri moyoro hot pot
Warm your belly on a cold winter day with the Moyoro hot pot (1,600 yen per pax), a popular local dish found in Abashiri city. Served in Okhotsk earthenware, the hot pot comes with a rich variety of Okhotsk seafood, including trout, snow crab, clams, and oyster. The highlight is the salty kelp soup, brewed from shellfish and vegetables, then finished with a drizzle of Shiratori soy sauce and Okhotsk salt.
Where to try: Sushi Hana Noren
3. Lavender ice cream
Rich and creamy, Hokkaido’s high-quality dairy produce is wonderfully showcased in its desserts. When at Farm Tomita, make a beeline for the sweetly scented lavender ice cream, which is available all year around. During summer, look out for flavors like musk melon and white chocolate.
Where to try: Farm Tomita
4. Tento gozen bento set
Aside from educating visitors on the geographical phenomena of drift ice, the Okhotsk Ryūhyō Museum is also home to a charming cafe that serves local cuisine. Set against a bird’s eye view of the Abashiri city, Cafe Restaurant 360 offers hearty and photo-worthy bento sets featuring local seafood, including scallop, potato, salmon, snow crab, and more. To enjoy one of these bento sets, be sure to make a booking two days in advance.
Where to try: Okhotsk Ryūhyō Museum
5. Beef stew
The Kawayu-Onsen Station on Japan Rail’s Semmo Line offers access to some of Hokkaido’s most beautiful natural wonders, such as the nearby hot spring towns.
Make a pit stop at the station’s nostalgic Orchard Glass Cafe, where 1950s memorabilia such as old Coca-Cola signs and wooden airplane propellers set the scene for a quiet meal of delicious beef stew and ice cream sundaes.
6. White soy sauce ramen
Located near the famous Asahiyama Zoo, the Asahikawa Ramen Tokuichiban is a quaint halal ramen restaurant known for its flavorful seafood broth. Go for the white soy sauce ramen, which comes with silky yet firm noodles, richly flavored pork slices, and a half-boiled ajitama egg.
Where to try: Yotsuba (6-7-17 12-jo Toyooka, Asahikawa city, Hokkaido)
7. Lake lobster spaghetti
When at Lake Akan, visit Onsen Kobo Akan to enjoy the unique experience of savoring lobster spaghetti while soaking your feet in a footbath. Prepared al dente, the spaghetti goes perfectly with either a tomato or white sauce and is topped with an entire Lake Akan lobster that’s delightful with its sweet flesh.
Where to try: Onsen Kobo Akan (The restaurant will soon undergo renovation and reopen again on an unconfirmed date.)
8. Drift Ice Beer
Commonly sold in Hokkaido’s izakayas, especially in Abashiri, the Drift Ice Draft Beer stands out with its striking blue label. The beer’s blue hue is derived from a blend of local flowers and blue seaweed, while the drink itself is made with drift ice sourced from the waters of Okhotsk. It’s light, refreshing, and (probably) won’t leave you with a nasty hangover.
Where to try: Found in most restaurants and izakayas in Hokkaido, aside from Sapporo.
9. Uni and crab fried rice
Consider this your midnight snack on steroids, best accompanied by a pint of cold beer. The uni and crab fried rice showcases the best of Sapporo’s seafood, combined with the charred flavors of stir-fried Japanese rice and egg. By the third mouthful, the natural sweetness from the uni would’ve melded perfectly into the rice.
Where to try: Chaco Izakaya (2-1 Kita 3-jo Nishi NC Hokusen Kita 3-jo Bldg B1F, Chuo Sapporo 06-003, Hokkaido)
10. Smelt tempura
Among Lake Akan’s many wintertime activities, ice fishing ranks among its most popular. To reward yourself after a day of fishing, be sure to bring your catch to the nearby diner and have them prepared tempura-style. Crispy and slightly salty, the tempura smelt pairs wonderfully with beer. For 1,500 yen, visitors can enjoy both ice fishing as well as the tempura smelt fish.
Where to try: Lake Akan
This article was brought to you by Japan National Tourism Organization.