In Japan, Hokkaido is known for its locally sourced ingredients, largely because of its great climate that is perfect for all sorts of farming. Hokkaido (also a great place to adventure and work) is the top national producer of various crops, it’s also the top dairy producer. And to top it all off, they’re surrounded by great fishing waters and produce high-quality seafood that brings in tons of visitors annually. So it’s no wonder the area has become the go-to for all things gourmet!
Here are five more of Hokkaido’s famous dishes. Maybe at this rate, one day, we’ll cover them all!
You might have heard of karaage, Japan’s tasty fried chicken that’s impossible to escape when you go out for a drink, but zangi is Hokkaido’s own special form of the dish.
The main difference is that zangi chicken is well seasoned—marinated with soy sauce and sake and coated with wheat flour mixed with spices such as ginger. Regular karaage is good, but sometimes it is only as good as whatever sauce you smother it in. Hokkaidoites pride themselves on the superior, rich taste of zangi over karaage.
2. Ramen triple threat
These all fall under the delicious umbrella of ramen. Hokkaido has made such a name for itself with its mouth-watering ramen that each region has different styles, and the top three are considered to be Hakodate Ramen, Sapporo Ramen and Asahikawa Ramen. Each is named after the region where it originated.
- Hakodate ramen: characterized by its shio (salt) flavor and soft, straight noodles. The soup is often a golden color and is cooked in such a way as to avoid being too cloudy. It’s usually served with toppings like char siu (Cantonese BBQ pork), spinach and menma (fermented bamboo shoots).
- Sapporo ramen: known for its miso flavor and is often a garlicky delight served with stir-fried vegetables. Though it is known for its pork-broth base, many restaurants will serve it with other soup bases, too.
- Asahikawa ramen: made a name for itself for its soy sauce flavor and thinner, curly noodles. It uses what is called a “W soup”. W is often used to mean “double” in Japanese, and in this case, the soup has a doubled base of both fish and meat broth, resulting in a soup that really packs a punch. Its toppings are usually char siu and menma, but some variations with more vegetables can be found here and there.
3. LeTao Cheesecake
Hokkaido is known for its great dairy products. It produces over half of Japan’s milk, so we had to include one of their delicious dairy treats, cheesecake. You can get different types of cheesecake around Hokkaido, but the most famous is LeTao Cheesecake.
LeTao opened its first store in 1998 in Otaru, so if you want to see where it all began, that’s the place to go. But now, they’ve expanded around Hokkaido and even have a few stores in the Kanto and Kansai regions further south.
Their most famous cheesecake is the Double Fromage cheesecake, made with a layer of unbaked and baked cheesecake. It’s a bit different from the New York-style cheesecake, as the cheese flavor is more prominent. However, it’s worth a try because it’s unlike cheesecake you’ll get anywhere else!
While you may have heard of gyudon (beef on rice), you probably haven’t yet heard of butadon (pork on rice). You might be able to find butadon in some other parts of Japan. Still, Hokkaido is famed as the originator of the dish, so it’s widely thought of as the tastiest place to try it out.
Pork farming didn’t begin in the Tokachi region until 1910, but it wasn’t long before they realized the best way to use it. Thick slices of pork are char-grilled, then served with a saucy marinade inspired by a common eel dish called unaju.
Sometimes called Tokachi butadon after the Tokachi region where it originated, the delicious pork and rice bowl has a sweetness from the soy-based sauce, and is sometimes served with edamame. It’s packed with protein, so it’s a good meal to keep you going for a long day of traveling the snowy scenes of Hokkaido.
5. Kushiro Katte Don
Hokkaido is known for its delicious seafood, and one of the best places to experience it is directly at a fish market. But fish markets can be overwhelming and don’t always have something you can eat on the spot, so they aren’t always great for travelers.
But the Kushiro Katte Don allows you to savor the freshly caught fish right within the market. You can do this at Kushiro Washou Market, renowned as one of the top 3 fish markets in Hokkaido. It’s a DIY experience, as you buy white rice from one of the stalls and then wander around the fish market picking up your favorite sashimi. Put it on your rice, and you have your very own katte don!
It’s an excellent option for anyone picky with their fish and not a fan of the regular kaisendon (sashimi rice bowls) you might get elsewhere. The name katte don even means “rice bowl as you like it!”
That’s another five mouth-watering Hokkaido dishes to add to your list next time you’re there. Make the most of it because who knows where else you’ll find a delicious bowl of Asahikawa ramen!
Did you already know about these Hokkaido dishes? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!