Hokkaido Food Guide

The food of Hokkaido is one of the northern island's biggest attractions, especially the high quality seafood caught in its cold waters and the agricultural products grown on its wide farmlands.

Seafood
Hokkaido is renowned for the high quality and freshness of its seafood, as the cold waters surrounding Japan's northernmost prefecture are ideal for fish and sea vegetation.
Within the prefecture some areas are particularly famous for a certain product, such as the uni (sea urchin) of Rishiri and Rebun. Some other highly celebrated seafood products are kani (crab), ika (squid), ikura (salmon roe) and hotate (scallops).
A popular way to sample the prefecture's famous seafood is visiting a fish market and having a donburi (rice bowl) breakfast. Typical toppings are fresh uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe), ika (squid) or a combination thereof. Popular markets include Sapporo's Nijo Market, Hakodate's Morning Market and Kushiro's Washo Market.

Dairy Products
Thanks to its expansive countryside, Hokkaido is able to support a massive dairy industry. The prefecture produces about half of the country's milk, of which about 60% is used for drinking while the rest is processed into other dairy products like butter, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream.
Dairy products from Hokkaido enjoys a very strong brand value across Japan, and many butter and milk packages prominently advertise their ties to the northern prefecture.
Inside Hokkaido, travelers may notice that dairy products are used in dishes more often than elsewhere in the country. For instance, ramen is frequently served with a slice of butter on top. And one of the most popular local souvenirs are butter cookie sandwiches, which consist of two cookies with butter and raisins in the middle.

Produce
As with dairy products, Hokkaido is able to support extensive farming thanks to its large size, relatively small population and favorable soil and climate.
For example, it produces almost ten times as much wheat as any other prefecture. Among other farm products readily associated with Hokkaido are potatoes, corn, onions and melons.

Ramen
Ramen is a noodle soup dish that has its origins in China, but was imported to Japan during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) and then Japanized. It is popular throughout the country, but is also well known as a specialty of Hokkaido.
The soup base, noodles and toppings used for ramen vary across Japan, and even within Hokkaido there are variations between the regions. While Sapporo is known for its miso based broths, salt based broths are more common in Hakodate and soya sauce based ones in Asahikawa.
Like in the rest of the country, ramen shops are among the most numerous types of restaurants, found across cities and along major roads. Tourists can find an entire collection of ramen shops in the Ramen Village in Asahikawa or the Ramen Republic and Ramen Yokocho in Sapporo.

Genghis Khan (Jingisukan)
Named after the man who founded the Mongol Empire in the early 13th century, Genghis Khan is a dish consisting of meat (usually mutton) and vegetables cooked on a dome shaped metal grill in the middle of the table. The meat is usually dipped in a shoyu based sauce and eaten right off the grill.
Genghis Khan can be enjoyed at specialized restaurants across Hokkaido. One of the best places to enjoy it is the atmospheric beer hall at the Sapporo Beer Museum.

Beer
Beer has become the most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan since it was introduced from Germany in the beginning of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Sapporo Beer, one of the first and most popular beer brands in Japan, was founded in Hokkaido and dates back to the opening of Japan's first brewery in 1876.
Travelers can learn about the history of beer in Hokkaido at the Sapporo Beer Museum, and enjoy a beer tasting afterwards. Beer tastings can also be enjoyed at a small tasting bar at the Sapporo Factory shopping center, the former site of the original brewery.
Last updated: January 23, 2013
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