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!
Typical Kaisen (seafood) rice bowl found in Hokkaido
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.
Rice topped with succulent savoury pork in obihiro. Photo source
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.
Matsuo Genghis Khan Mutton barbecued with various vegetables. Photo source
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.
A bowl of vegetable soup curry to warm you up in winter.
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? Numerous types of seafood all served on a large scallop shell. Photo source
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. A steaming bowl of Miso Butter Corn Ramen in Sapporo. Photo source
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.A hotpot full of delicious Ishikari ingredients such as Salmon and scallops. Photo source
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! A plate of freshly cut thin slices of raw squid. Photo source
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.
Slices of frozen salmon sashimi. Photo source
9. Supa Katsu スパかつ (Kushiro, 釧路)