Welcome to Mountain Eats Hokkaido. Hokkaido is the most northern and coldest of the Japanese islands and the destination for many of those seeking blue skies, friendly locals, good food and spectacularly deep powder. From the capital Sapporo, through to Nisiko, Rusutsu and Furano there is lots to choose from; excellent boarding conditions coupled with a bucket load of resorts and terrain to explore. When all is done and dusted, however, where do you go to get a decent feed to refuel for the next run? If noodles are your thing then Hokkaido is home to some of the best ramen in the world hands down, but ramen is just the tip of the iceberg as the food on offer in this corner of Japan is second to none.
Your first port of call in this Japanese prefecture will undoubtedly be Sapporo, and you may want to get some local cuisine into you before you even hit the slopes, especially with places such as this….
Ebisoba Ichigen, Chitose Airport
It’s strange to think that one of the best places to eat in a city is located in the departure lounge of an airport but Ebisoba Ichigen is one for the prawn lovers. Ebi Soba is a prawn based soup inspired by a classic Singaporean dish that has grown popular in Japan in recent years. Ebisoba offers three types of soup to go with your noodles: Sono mama (Prawn based straight soup), Hodo Hodo (Straight soup mixed with tonkatsu soup) or Ajiwai (a thicker version of Hodo Hodo). All come with the choice of soba or ramen noodles and the lingering necessity to return to the restaurant for that oh-so-good prawn flavoured soup fix.
Where: Bibi | 3FChitose Airport, Chitose 066-0012
Why: Three kinds of prawn soup, two kinds of noodles and anything you want on top? Beats aeroplane food any day of the week.
Ramen Shingen, Minami 6jo Tnen
In Sapporo, Ramen is all about the Miso flavour. One of the best examples of this is a small, “hole-in-the-wall” called Shingen. Located in the red light district of Susukino, you can avoid (or engage) some of the seedier elements of the area to find a bright yellow shop front and a long line of hungry noodle enthusiasts. The restaurant offers a Ramen dish that is based on a stock of pork bone, dried sardines, vegetables and Miso simmered for an eternity. The soup is mild and creamy and will definitely be remembered as one of the tastiest broths you’ve enjoyed for years to come.
Where: 8 Nishi, Minami-6jo,Chuo-ku, Sapporo 064-0806
Why: Widely regarded as the best Ramen in Japan and cheap too (bowls start at 750yen)
Kaiten Sushi, Topikaru
Kaiten Sushi (or sushi train for non locals) is perfect for those of you who don’t speak the lingo but still want to tuck into some of the freshest sushi (there is a menu available in English but it wasn’t necessary). Not as upmarket as some competitors but it is cheaper and less touristy. It is a busy restaurant so the sushi on offer has a high turnover rate, but this does not translate into a sacrifice on quality; some of the best unagi rice and chirashi sushi I have ever tasted.
Where:9-6 Wakamatsucho, Furano 076-0032
Why: Freshest sushi/sashimi in the area at fairly cheap prices (1500yen pp)
Teppan Okonomiyaki Masaya
Teppanyaki is a frenetic and vibrant affair with lot’s of yelling and throwing of eggs!
Who doesn’t enjoy a show with their dinner? Teppanyaki is a frenetic and vibrant affair with lot’s of yelling and throwing of eggs. It’s one of those things you need to do at least once and there is no better place to do it than here. Located five minutes from JR Furano station, Teppan Okonomiyaki Masaya specialises in flame seared spare ribs and okonomiyaki (a traditional Japanese pancake). The menu may be small but the chef/owner is exceedingly friendly and speaks perfect English, more than just a meal, it’s an event.
Where: 11-15 Hinodemachi, Furano 076-0025
Why: It’s a Japanese chef grilling stuff in front of you while simultaneously yelling and throwing food, what’s not to love?
If quantity is your thing then Niseko boasts the most consistent and abundant snowfalls in the country, it also is the birthplace of some of Hokkaido’s traditional dishes such as Ishikari-Nabe and Genghis Khan. Be sure to check out theses places after snowboarding in the sixth best ski resort in the world.
A-Bu-Cha 2, Hokkaido
After a long day hitting the slopes there is nothing like a fresh Nabe to heat you up. Located in the main junction of the village A-bu-cha-2 is a premier Japanese and Izakaya bar. Pricier than most places, you will forgive them once you try their Ishikari-Nabe (a traditional Hokkaido hot pot). Busy and bustling, there is atmosphere, ambience and something on the menu for everyone. They do take walk-ins but better to book so that you don’t miss out!
Where: 191-29 Yamada | Suiboku 1F, Abuta-gun
Why: It’s central, it’s cool, it’s popular with an impressive selection of booze.
Niseko Genghis Khan, Hokkaido
You may leave the place smelling like a sheep with a nicotine addiction…
No trip to Hokkaido would be complete without tasting the regional dish Genghis Khan. No, not a mongolian warlord. The dish is made by barbecuing mutton chops with vegetables in a helmet shaped pan. Arguably no one does this better than Yumi Yoshihara, the chef/owner of this bizarrely designed restaurant. Whilst not the easiest place to find, the place is cheap and definitely cheerful. Friendly staff cook the dishes in front of you, although you may leave the place smelling like a sheep with a nicotine addiction. The warm feeling in your belly more than makes up for it.
Where: 476-14 Soga, Abuta-gun, Niseko-cho
Why: Genghis Khan…