Given that my friend Victor and I are massive foodies, it’s no surprise that we hitchhiked 1246km in two days from Tokyo in order to reach the promise land of Hokkaido known to be some of the best seafood, dairy and produce in all of Japan.
To add to our excitement, during the month of September, the capital city of Sapporo also hosts one of the largest food and beer festivals known as the “Sapporo Autumn Festival” you wont want to miss!
From September 9th – 30th, there’s no better place to be than Japan’s largest food festival spanning across the length of 4 football fields!
Be sure to go on an empty stomach (and probably visit more than once in order to eat your way through the quality dishes produced in Hokkaido!)
The food festival is divided into various sections so be sure to start at Odori 1-chome and make your way to the end at Odori 11-chome.
What to Eat: Is it acceptable to say everything? just kidding, unless you’ve won the lottery I wouldn’t advise it simply based on the cost. However, do yourself a favor and try out a few things from each section as seen below.
Odori 6-chome: Popular local restaurants serve their specialties and gourmet dishes they’re famed for.
Odori 7-chome: If you love to drink, you’ll love Odori 7-chome. There are 27 wineries from Hokkaido to choose from, shochu – a local spirit made especially in Hokkaido as well as local sake and domestic whisky.
Odori 8-chome: By far the most popular area serving what Hokkaido is known for – seafood! There is a wide range of sushi, sashimi, king crabs, sea urchins, scallops, salmon roe, oysters, Yakisoba, Yakitori and Japanese sake.
Odori 10-chome: Many small booths serving local foods such as Butadon and Donburi (a must eat!) as well as fresh vegetables, pizza, pasta and more.
Odori 11-chome: Known as world food park; Odori 11-chome consists of popular dishes around the world. You also get the chance to watch chefs masterfully preparing dishes.
Open: 10:00 – 20:30
Location: Sapporo’s Odori Park
Get your dirndls and lederhosen on because Munich’s biggest beer festival known as Oktoberfest has made its way to Sapporo; joining in with Sapporo’s Autumn Festival!
From limited edition barreled draft beer specially brewed in Munich to craft beer brewed in Hokkaido and Portland, Oregon, USA; you can drink your stein’s while munching away on traditional German sausages, giant pretzels and more as you watch live performances on Sapporo’s Oktoberfest stage.
Location: 1-chome, Sapporo’s Odori Park
If you’re looking for quality conveyor belt sushi at an inexpensive price, you can’t beat SushiRo. Although a chain restaurant across Japan, the quality and freshness is far above the rest in Hokkaido and after trying out 10 plates costing 100¥ each, how can you say no?
What To Eat: With nearly 80 types of sushi to chose from, it’s hard to decide which to eat first! However some of our favorites included tempura eel, tempura sushi roll with avocado, roe and egg, inari, salmon with basil sauce and prawn with avocado and crispy potato.
If you’re looking to try something unusual, they also serve horsemeat sushi.
Preface: When we think of the term “buffet”, the image of sad looking food, half warm, half cold and lit by blinding white light is the first thing that comes to mind and no food lover should be subjected to such cruelty.
With that said; Hokkaido is known for their top quality seafood; in particular their large and succulent crab and after finding out about NANDA Seafood Buffet; I can happily say that for the first time, the term “buffet” doesn’t taste so sour and in fact; felt more like we won a seafood lottery fit for a king and queen and will go down as one of the most memorable food experiences in Japan. (yes – it was that good!)
The assortment of freshly prepared seafood at NANDA spans for what feels like miles. A chef is preparing sushi as requested, all food was beautifully prepared, is unbelievably fresh and you can eat your way through the buffet trying out each and every type available from Hokkaido.
Below is a small list of the food available at the buffet:
Crab: King Crab, Snow Crab, Hairy Crab
Beef: Japanese Beef, Grilled Meats, Ox Tongue, Steak, Beef Steak, Chicken,
Seafood: Scallops, Jumbo Shrimp, Oysters
Sushi: Salmon, Medium Tuna, Sweet Shrimp, SEA URCHIN, SCALLOPS, SALMON ROE
Fresh Vegetables, Fresh Fruit & Salad Bar: Seasoned Vegetables & Mushrooms
Tempura: Various Types Of Tempura
Ice Cream Machine: Matcha, Vanilla Or Chocolate
Soup Station: King Crab Soup, Miso Soup
Deep Fried: Crab Cakes & Other Assorted Dishes.
Note: Be sure to come for the Lunch buffet as price is much lower.
Total Cost: 4,490 ¥ for 70min.
(Price breakdown: 3,700 ¥ All you can eat buffet with soft drink, 500 ¥ table charge per person & 8% tax.)
Although Hokkaido is known for it’s seafood, it’s equally as known to have some of the best vegetables and fruit for prices that won’t break the bank!
What To Eat: Be sure to try the Nashi Pear, strawberries in Pippu and Japanese pumpkins.
The dairy in Hokkaido is unlike the rest of Japan which results in the richest and creamiest ice cream around also known as “soft cream” in Japan.
The best soft cream we’ve had has been from various service stations while on the road. At each service station you will find a soft cream that is particular to that area. The must try classic is Hokkaido’s milk soft serve but be prepared to fall into ice cream bliss after trying their many other flavors such as lavender, rum raisin, pumpkin, strawberry, apple, purple sweet potato, Hasukappu berry, local melon. For more adventurous flavors, try their seaweed, scallop or squid ink soft serve.
Depending on which prefecture of Japan you’re in, the flavor of ramen also changes. In Sapporo, miso ramen is famous and make sure to head to Ramen Alley to try the best. Thanks to a local we met in the streets in our hunt for the best ramen, look no further than Shirakaba Sansou.
For more information on Hokkaido and rad things to do there head to Hokkaido.jp.
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