Mention Hokkaido, and everyone thinks of delicious seafood and fresh dairy products. But in this vast 84,000 km² land located North of Japan, there are many more mouth-watering delicacies offered by various less-known cities waiting to be discovered by travelers. Below are a list of 10 local Hokkaido food you must definitely try!
1. Butadon 豚丼 (Obihiro, 帯広)
While Butadon, a bowl of rice topped with delicious glazed pork meat, can also be found in parts of Tokyo and other big cities across Japan, this delicacy originated from Obihiro city in Hokkaido. Take a short walk through the streets of Obihiro today and you will be greeted by the sweet savory smell of Butadon. Different from Butadon served elsewhere, the pork in Obihiro Butadon is perfectly grilled over charcoal and each shop’s sauce is specially homemade to conjure a flavour that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
2. Matsuo Genghis Khan 松尾ジンギスカン (Takikawa, 滝川)
Famous and easily found across Hokkaido, this barbecued Mutton dish originates from Takikawa, with it’s main shop (本店) here busy hosting customers everyday. Mutton slices are marinated in a special Matsuo sauce and served with vegetables (Beansprouts, carrots, onions, etc). Matsuo Genghis Khan gives you the opportunity to enjoy a good talk with friends while barbecuing some tasty mutton.
3. Soup Curry (Sapporo, 札幌)
Soup curry, as its name implies, is a type a soupy curry very different from the standard Japanese curry. Soup curry is a flavorful favorite of people in Hokkaido, especially during the winter months. So if you ever come to Sapporo for its famed winter festival, do try out Soup Curry with many restaurants located around the city, as this spicy bowl of curry filled with vegetables and chicken or pork will be sure to fill your bellies and warm up your bodies.
4. Isobeyaki 磯辺焼 (Wakkanai, 稚内)
Different from other isobeyaki which are fried rice cakes, this Isobeyaki found in Wakkanai is a juicy mix of seafood and vegetables grilled and served in a scallop shell. This is a specialty of Wakkanai, Hokkaido, and cannot be found elsewhere. So after spending a day at the northern most tip of Japan, why not sit down and enjoy this hidden gem?
5. Miso Butter Corn Ramen (Sapporo, 札幌)
Fragrant Miso broth, creamy butter, and sweet corn are all added together into this bowl of deliciousness. This bowl of Ramen is an explosion of flavours and is only found in Hokkaido. Miso Butter Corn Ramen stalls are spread around Sapporo, as well as many other cities located throughout Hokkaido, and this delicacy is sure to warm you up for the harsh winters.
6. Ishikari Nabe 石狩鍋 (Ishikari, 石狩)
Famous for its fast moving river and abundance of fresh Salmon, Ishikari city offers another specialty ― the Ishikari Nabe. Filled to the brim with local ingredients such as corn, butter, and salmon, this Miso hotpot has a rich distinct flavour that is sure to charm all.
7. Ika-soumen イカそうめん (Hakodate, 函館)
Hakodate, a city located south west in Hokkaido, is famous for its abundant seafood, particularly fresh squids. Ika-soumen is hence one of the most famous food found in Hakodate, with Ika meaning squid, and soumen being a type of long thin wheat noodles commonly found in Japan. As the name suggests, Ika-soumen is fresh chewy squid cut into thin slices and eaten raw. If you’re a fan of sashimi, don’t miss out of some raw squid too!
8. Ruibe ルイベ (Everywhere)
This is one of the few delicacies passed down from long before Hokkaido was a part of Japan. A dish commonly made by Hokkaido’s indigenous population, these slices of frozen raw salmon are unique in taste and comes with a very interesting history. Most restaurants or izakaya in Hokkaido serve this dish, along with Hokkaido’s very own mountain wasabi. A variant of the common green wasabi we see in sushi bars, mountain wasabi is white in colour and may prove a challenge to many.
9. Supa Katsu スパカツ (Kushiro, 釧路)
One special dish you definitely have to try out is the Spaghetti Pork Cutlet (called Supa Katsu スパカツ) in Kushiro. Katsu, short for tonkatsu, is a deep-friend pork cutlet, and this is served with spaghetti on a sizzling hot plate with delicious meat sauce. This dish is the perfect blend between Japanese and Western food.
10. Okhotsk Kitami Shio Yakisoba オホーツク北見塩やきそば (Kitami, 北見)
Okhotsk Kitami Yakisoba is a special type of fried noodles found only in Kitami, Hokkaido. Instead of using Yakisoba sauce as with other Yakisoba found elsewhere, this dish uses salt. Topped with a large number of shrimps, scallops and other seafood, this is a local food that will leave you craving for more!
Above is the list of local Hokkaido food you should not miss. So the next time you come to visit this vast piece of land up north of Japan, do keep a look out for these mouthwatering dishes.
*Header image by Agustin Rafael Reyes