Aside from its beautiful nature, Hokkaido is also known as the food capital of Japan. This northernmost island of Japan has plenty to offer, from high-quality produce, fresh seafood to the best dairy products in Japan.
Sapporo is the capital city of Hokkaido and is known as the gateway into Hokkaido. It’s very likely you’ll go through Sapporo as your first touch in Hokkaido. So of course, while you’re in this amazing city, there are so many things you must try and eat!
Without further ado, here is my must-eat list for Sapporo:
1. Miso Ramen
As part of the “three great ramen of Hokkaido”, Sapporo is known for its miso ramen. The other two are shio (salt) ramen in Hakodate and shoyu (soy) ramen in Ashikawa.
Miso is fermented soybean paste, and it is the most common example of “umami” in Japanese cooking. In Sapporo’s miso ramen, miso paste is added to the broth to enhance its flavors. The star of the dish is the noodles, which are thick and curly (as opposed to thin and straight in other ramen types). This type of noodle holds the broth well and delivers a punch of flavors with each bite.
Attention corn-lovers! 🌽🧈 You would be delighted to know that another Sapporo special is to add butter and corn as a topping to this ramen.
Where to eat Miso Ramen in Sapporo
I visited two ramen places in Sapporo:
- Ramen Shingen (in Susukino) – They are very popular. Expect to queue for about an hour, although the queue will be partially indoor. The popular thing to get is Shinshu (thicker miso flavor) with Kakuni (thick pork slices). The portion is pretty big here.
- Ramen Teshikaga (in Ramen Yokocho) – Located in the Ramen Alley in Susukino. Might require some wait, but it isn’t too bad. Takes credit card.
2. Soup Curry
Arguably, Sapporo’s most famous dish is soup curry. Typically served with tender bone-in chicken thigh with a bunch of chunky slices of roasted vegetables – usually sweet potato, broccoli, lotus, carrot, eggplant, pumpkin, and okra.
I find that soup curry is distinctive from the usual Japanese curry. While Japanese curry tends to be more sweet and mild, the flavors in soup curry are stronger with more spices involved. To me, it’s almost like a cross of Thai curry and Indian curry – perfect for Sapporo’s colder weather. I also enjoyed the added textures of various vegetables.
You can usually choose the level of spiciness. As a spicy food lover, I find that the spiciness is not the usual Japanese-level, which tends to be milder as opposed to actually spicy. I was quite satisfied with the standard level 3 (of 5) spice.
Where to eat Soup Curry in Sapporo
- Hiri Hiri (near Sapporo station)
- Soup Curry Garaku (near Susukino Station) – The most popular soup curry restaurant in Sapporo. Expect some queue to get in.
- Soup Curry Treasure (near Susukino Station) – Lesser known sister restaurant of Garaku.
3. Sushi and Fresh Seafood
One of Hokkaido’s specialties is fresh seafood, and Sapporo is a mecca for it. The reason why seafood is so well known in Hokkaido is due to its cold climate. Cold water surrounds the island, and as a result, brings in an abundance of planktons and nutrients into the water for the fish to thrive on.
The proximity of Sapporo to the sea, as well as Japan’s amazing logistics, brings us one of the best seafood Hokkaido has to offer. In other parts of the world, although fish are served raw, they are usually frozen first and then delivered to the restaurant before being thawed to serve. However, in Hokkaido, it is possible to find raw fish that are quite literally the catch of the day, served completely raw without being frozen first.
You might think fresh is better, but freezing is a common food safety method to control parasites that naturally exist in some fish. If you’re concerned about eating raw fish that are not yet frozen, please ask the restaurant first before ordering. They’ll be able to tell you which fish were frozen and which ones were not.
Or you can also order cooked sushi like Unagi and Anago, which are eels from freshwater and seawater, respectively. Although they are both eels, the texture is very different. Anago is a lot softer and more crumbly than Unagi.
Where to eat Sushi in Sapporo
- Seafood Donbei (in Nijo Market)
- Toriton Sushi (4 branches in Sapporo)
- Hakodate Uni Murakami (near Sapporo station)
4. Tsukko Meshi Ikura Don (Overflowing Salmon Roe Rice Bowl)
While we are on the topic of fresh raw seafood, you can’t skip ikura don while in Sapporo! Ikura is salmon roe. The red-orange pearls will pop inside your mouth when you take a spoonful of it, bursting with the delicious flavor of the ocean.
In Sapporo, there is a style of ikura don called “Tsukko Meshi” which means overflowing ikura rice bowl. And true to the name, they will continue to add marinated ikura on top of your rice bowl until it almost overflows out of the bowl.
Where to eat Ikura Bowl in Sapporo
- Umi Hachikyo Bettei Ofukuro (in Susukino) – Make a reservation before you go.
5. Genghis Khan or Jingisukan (Grilled Lamb)
This is something that I’ve only learned on this trip to Japan (and I’ve been here at least 6-7 times!). In Japan, Genghis Khan or Jingisukan refers to grilled lamb, cooked in the style of yakiniku alongside beansprouts, sliced potatoes, mushrooms, and onion.
Aside from seafood, Hokkaido is also well known for its lamb meat. Jingisukan originated from Hokkaido in the 1930s, invented by a man from Sapporo named Tokuzo Komai who was inspired by Northeastern Chinese cuisine.
Lamb would normally not be my first choice of meat, however the lamb I tried in Hokkaido tasted different. It is tender and not as strong or gamey as the lamb I’ve tried elsewhere.
Where to eat Jingisukan in Sapporo
- Matsuo Jingisukan (4 branches in Sapporo)
- Genghis Khan Yuhi (in Susukino)
- Hiratsuka Genghis Khan (in Susukino)
6. Butadon (Pork Rice Bowl)
Pork is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Of course, Hokkaido has its own style when it comes to eating pork. Butadon originated from Obihiro in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido.
The meat in this dish is seasoned with sweet savory tare sauce before being grilled until carmelized and served on top of Japanese rice. The pork meat is usually thinly sliced, but in some places they’re thicker.
It is such a simple yet very delicious meal.
Where to eat Butadon in Sapporo
- Doraibu-in Itou Butadon (in New Chitose Airport) – Popular restaurant in the retail section of the airport. Expect some wait time to get a table.
- Butadon Mamuro (in Susukino) – A small restaurant manned by one person. He only have 3 tables in the restaurant. When we came for early dinner at 6:30pm, he told us we managed to get the last two bowls!
- Tokachi Butadon Ippin (near Sapporo Station)
7. LeTAO Double Fromage Cheesecake
LeTAO is a famous bakery from the nearby town Otaru, but of course, you can enjoy it while in Sapporo too!
Their most famous item is the Double Fromage Cheesecake, which is very delicious. It’s light, not too sweet (the ultimate compliment from an Asian person when it comes to dessert), and the portion is perfect as an afternoon snack.
LeTAO is also a popular souvenir to bring from Hokkaido. Look out for the cheesecake when you’re at the airport!
Where to eat LeTAO’s cheesecake in Sapporo
- Doremo LeTAO (near New Chitose Airport) – A proper cafe where you can get their pastries and baked goods.
- LeTAO Bakery (in Sapporo station) – A bakery at the underground level of a mall. Takeaway only.
8. Hokkaido Milk Soft Serve
Even though winter in Hokkaido can be brutally cold, I would still eat ice cream any time… if it’s made from Hokkaido milk. Soft serves made with Hokkaido milk hit differently – it’s extra creamy and decadent, almost like butter.
If you’re a fan of dairy, you should also try Hokkaido milk and yogurt. However, chances are you’ve probably had it in other parts of Japan. Hokkaido is the producer of over 50% of dairy in Japan. This is due to the climate of Hokkaido and the fact that there are many wide green pastures in Hokkaido, which is an ideal environment for raising cows.
Where to get Hokkaido Milk Soft Serve in Sapporo
- Kinotoya Bake (near Susukino Station) – Also known for their apple pie
- Milk Mura
- Machimura Nojo Farm Odori
9. Zangi (Hokkaido Style Deep Fried Chicken)
Chicken Karaage is a popular and well-loved Japanese dish, usually served in izakaya or as a side dish.
In Hokkaido, they have their own style of karaage called zangi. The difference between zangi from regular karaage is that the meat is marinated and the batter is seasoned before deep frying, which makes it more flavorful than karaage.
Where to try Zangi in Sapporo
- Sapporo Zangi Hompo (near Sapporo Station)
10. Sapporo Classic
As the name implies, Sapporo Beer was born in Sapporo. These days, Sapporo Beer is widely known all over the world but there are a few limited versions that you can only get in Hokkaido.
One of them is Sapporo Classic, which comes in a blue and white can and is made only for Hokkaido’s climate. While in Hokkaido, you can find this beer in the supermarket, konbini or restaurants.
Where to have Sapporo Beer in Sapporo
- Sapporo Beer Museum
And that’s all the food I enjoyed in Sapporo! I hope this list helps you. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below.
More on Hokkaido: If you find this post useful, don’t forget to check out my other posts about Hokkaido!