As a prelude to my ski trip again in Niseko this March, Y and I decided to head to Sapporo with our usual travelling buddies for the weekend for some good food and buy some fresh seafood including the famous Hokkaido crabs. Googling for best places to eat in Sapporo seemed to constantly turn up the usual tourist trap type of crab restaurants, ramen alley and even soup curry. I realised trying to find online authentic places to eat in Sapporo was pretty challenging, which is why I have to thank the chef at Sushi Zen (first restaurant in my line up below) for giving us some insider tips on where to go! As my motto is to care and share, read this post if you want to know where the good stuff are in Sapporo!
Sushi Zen すし善 本店 27 Chome-2-10 Kita 1 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture 064-0821, Japan, Tel: Phone: 011-531-0069
TW suggested for us to start our weekend in Sapporo with a nice sushi sashimi meal at Sushi Zen’s main restaurant in Maruyama.
Seated at Sushi Zen and can’t wait to dig into our omakase.
The picture below speaks a 1000 words, need I say more? These pictures are just about 75% of the entire omakase meal. We had hirame (Japanese flounder), octopus, botan prawn, horsehair crab, scallop, sayori, uni – always my favourite, of course the trio of Toro, just to name but a few. The sushi and sashimi course ended traditionally with slightly sweet Tamago cubes, always something I look forward to at the end of any sushi meal, and really sweet Japanese oranges for dessert. If I was to really nitpick, their rice is not done as well compared to some of the Tokyo top grade sushi restaurants, but for the price of under 20,000 yen to eat so much fresh seafood just straight from their shores, I think this was a pretty good meal!
Most importantly, at the end of the meal, we decided to ask Chef Tarou Kohira where in Sapporo had good restaurants which locals went to for sukiyaki and fresh seafood, and thank god for him, the next 2 places we went to were god sent!
Sankosha すき焼 三光舎 2 Minami 4 Jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Tel: 011 513 3548
Located on the 2nd floor in a rather office like building, we took the escalator up and found Sankosha on our right. We came here for lunch on our last day in Sapporo. Once we arrived, we were ushered into a nice comfortable private room for the group of us. We found out they have been established since the early 1900s and was most famous for their sukiyaki sauce.
Exterior of building where Sankosha is located.
What’s really interesting and unique about Sankosha from all the other sukiyaki restaurants I have been to in Japan has to be their sauce. Their sukiyaki sauce, served in a large dark lacquer bowl over the fire, was heightened further by a large dollop of black burnt miso, giving it a wonderfully rich, slightly smoky flavour.
The pictures above was all I took, as once I started eating, I was too busy just enjoying the beef and the sauce. The beef was top notch, nicely marbled without being too oily, and dipped in the sauce was just perfect! We loved it so much that we wanted to purchase some to go, but unfortunately they don’t make it for takeaway.
For our last night in Sapporo, it was only apt to indulge in a medley of food and alcohol, especially the case when I am with this particular group of friends. It started off with Uosaku, a seafood restaurant.
Uosaku 魚作 3 Chome Minami 6 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture 064-0806, Japan. Tel: 011 513 1113
We walked past a sushi counter of delicious fresh looking fish, crabs and given our large group, we were given a large private tatami room to sit in.
Sushi counter in Uosaku.
We were pretty famished by the time we arrived and wasted no time in ordering. Thank goodness, the staff could explain the menu briefly in English, so we managed to order successfully with Al and my limited command of reading Hiragana characters, coupled with some spattering mix of Japanese and English words with the staff.
We ordered a mixture of cold and hot dishes, ranging from fresh sashimi platters, freshest plump oysters, juicy large croquettes, to crab hotpot, uni and ikura dons just to name a few. I totally enjoyed this meal, it was hearty and satisfying with a good mix of all things seafood. This restaurant is also a great option for some who may not eat raw food but still want to enjoy good Hokkaido seafood.
The night of feasting paused temporarily with a visit to The Bow Bar (Floor 8, Hoshi Bld,7-5 Minami4 Nishi2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo), a whisky bar that came up high on our google searches when looking for cool bars to visit in Sapporo. And it definitely surpassed our expectations. Located on the 8th floor of an office building, we entered a long dark wooden bar which had on almost all walls of it lined with whiskies, with various vintages ranging back to some bottled in the 60s! We saw the bar counter was already filled up, but thank goodness there were 2 tables behind available for us to sit at, very lucky considering it was a Saturday night and we had not made any reservations here.
The owner Junya Homma who is the owner and bar manager, definitely has some serious cred in whiskies especially in Scotch single malt whiskies which he collects. We asked him to recommend, and he brought to our table quite an impressive range of whiskies, none that I have seen before, it really opened up my eyes to the world of whisky! I settled on getting a shot of the Strathisla followed by the Aberlour Glenlivet 12 years, as I didn’t really feel like having something too heavy. This was definitely another choice find in a night out in Sapporo, and one that I would head back to when feeling like some rare whisky!
The long dark wooden bar of The Bow Bar.
And of course last but not least, when in Sapporo, one cannot forget to eat Ramen. When reading up online on ramen, Sapporo is most famous for their miso ramen, and not surprisingly they even have a Ramen Alley. However, given that I have a philosophy to only eat THE best since it’s really ‘carb’ (carbohydrates) heavy, I decided to bring the group to Meijinbou for supper later, one of the few ramen shops that serve Kakuni ramen, where the pork belly is braised. I had to prevent the group from straying into the Ramen alley given this shop wasn’t that easy to find. So I have taken a photo of the exterior to help all of you out there when you are looking for the shop.
Meijinbou South 6, West 3, Susukino, Sapporo Japan. It’s about a 5 minute walk from Susukino subway station. Open : 16:30 – 06:00 Tel: 011-533-3600
We arrived at 11 plus almost midnight and it was still rather packed at the bar seating, but we managed to sit ourselves in 2 tables (guys versus gals). The guys quickly ordered with no control, ramen bowl per person and gyoza, while us gals plus bear were a little more controlled, sharing a miso based, and a shoyu based amongst the few of us. A lot of us preferred the shoyu one, as it was lighter and one could enjoy the taste of the braised pork belly better. The pork belly was thick, but tender and I liked especially the slightly charred edges around it. I found the miso based one too heavy and rich, so it became rather hard to eat much of it after 2 spoonfuls.
I am so glad our night ended here at this ramen shop, because I think at the end of this 2 days trip in Sapporo, I think I definitely gained 2 kg easily on my round tum tum!