Sapporo is the fifth biggest city in Japan, the capital of the Hokkaido prefecture and birthplace of the world-renowned Sapporo beer. Snow crab, soup curry and okonomiyaki are only a few of Sapporo’s most mouthwatering dishes. Take advantage of everything on offer in the city with our foodie-approved selection of 10 great restaurants in Sapporo.
Restaurant, Sushi, Japanese, Fast Food, $$$
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Sapporo is widely considered to be one of the best sushi destinations in Japan, and at the very top of that category stands Hanamaru. Hanamaru serves its dishes on a conveyor belt: each plate is color-coded and each color corresponds to a price. Guests can pick and choose whatever dish they prefer and at the end of the meal the waitresses count the stack of dishes and bring the bill. Considering the excellent quality of the fish, Hanamaru is surprisingly affordable. The cheerful atmosphere and the mouthwatering sushi make this venue a mandatory casual stop when visiting Sapporo.
Soup curry is one of the staple dishes of Japanese cuisine. Given that Hokkaido is the birthplace of soup curry, there is a lot of competition between restaurants to establish which one serves the best in Sapporo. Nishitondendori Soup Curry Honpo definitely ranks among the top three. The soups are simply fantastic: there is a wide selection of broths to choose from, which can be ordered either in a rich or light variant. The vegetable choice is also amazing, with cabbage, lotus root, okra, asparagus, red pepper, to name a few. To add another layer of deliciousness, the soups can be ordered with extra spice ranging in level from one to eight, the latter suitable only for the most daring.
For those wanting a plate of meat and a glass of beer in the heart of Japan, Sapporo Beer Garden is a dream come true. The restaurant is in the Genghis Khan Hall, a beautiful government building built in the 23rd year of the Meiji Period. From the exterior, with its beautiful red brick walls covered in ivy, to the interior with a giant brass cauldron from the Taisho period, Sapporo Beer Garden excels in creating the perfect atmosphere to accompany a great meal. The menu offers a solid variety of meats but what truly stands out is the Genghis Khan. This is a local specialty that consists of (all-you-can-eat) barbecued mutton or lamb best served with an ice-cold Sapporo beer on the side.
Not only do Sapporo’s restaurants offer some of the best traditional local cuisine, but they also cater to international tastes. Mikuni stands out as one of the best French-style restaurants in the city. Managed by Kiyomi Mikuni, a renowned chef from Hokkaido, it is one of dining experiences offered by the JR Tower Hotel. The style of Mikuni can be described as French fusion cuisine. It has a menu filled with staple dishes of traditional French cuisine, re-invented by the chef who makes a point of using only the freshest local produce for his creations. Innovative recipes, combined with an excellent wine list, impeccable service and a jaw-dropping view from the 35th floor of the building, mix together to create one of the best high-end dining experiences in Sapporo.
The seas surrounding the island of Hokkaido provide an incredible variety of fish and some of the tastiest seafood in the world. Kani-Honke made an art out of cooking crab. It follows the kaiseki ryōri, a traditional multi-course haute cuisine, which was once very popular among aristocratic circles and which is nowadays synonymous with fine dining. Not unlike the traditional tea ceremony, kaiseki meals have a specific order for the dishes, which can be enjoyed when staying at a ryokan, a Japanese-style inn. The beautiful décor of Kani-Honke is characterized by indoor gardens with Japanese cypresses and cedars. The succulent snow crab is one of the highlights of the menu, but every single dish is worth trying.
Vegetarians visiting Japan might be surprised by the lack of vegetarian restaurants throughout the country. Many of the soy-based products, like tofu and natto, are in fact more often than not cooked together with meat or meat-based stock. Luckily, Sapporo has Aoi Sora, an organic vegan restaurant that will be a delight for vegetarians visiting the city. Chef Takehiro Tominaga personally selects the freshest produce from local farms and strongly advises his costumers to try one of his many ways of cooking traditional Japanese grain. The menu changes regularly and even though it’s written only in Japanese, the friendly staff will be happy to explain what the various dishes are.
Together with Hakata and Kitagata, Sapporo is one of the most popular types of ramen in Japan. This noodle dish is usually served with shoyu (soy sauce), salt, and miso flavors, but the Sapporo variant is topped with fried vegetables. As the birthplace of the dish, it is no wonder that ramen restaurants abound in Sapporo. Although no one has never counted them, some say that there are more than 1,000 scattered throughout the city. Rāmen Kyōwakoku is an alleyway that’s home to eight of the best ramen restaurants in Sapporo, each specializing in a different style of cooking this incredibly popular and traditional dish.
Okonomiyaki must be one of Japan’s most popular dishes among locals and tourists alike. The word okonomiyaki literally means ‘grill whatever you want’ and, in fact, these Japanese pancakes are served with an incredible variety of toppings. The batter is made of flour, grated yam, water, eggs and shredded cabbage and may contain other ingredients such as green onions, prawns, octopus, squid, or meat. This staple dish of Japanese cuisine is generally served in small stalls on the side of the street. However, the best okonomiyaki experience in Sapporo is served by Fugetsu, a tiny joint that can be can be found inside the city’s train station.