In a city as large and cosmopolitan as Sapporo, it really isn’t that hard to find good international food or traditional local cuisine. Variations, of course, abound and you’ll be able to pick and choose between pan-Asian, European, Japanese and even and Indian fare. Seafood is a particular favourite in Sapporo. Consider splashing out on a crab banquet while this far north – the cold-water crustaceans up here are considered the tastiest and best in Japan. Of course, this all comes at a price and if you’re after budget food then it’s best to stick to simple noodle stalls.

    1

    Bikkuri Donkey

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    Bikkuri Donkey is a spacious, bright and child-friendly hamburger restaurant that is a reliable place for a casual meal. Serving a variety of local-style hamburger sets that come with rice and salad, Bikkuri Donkey does kid’s and adult’s meals at very reasonable prices. Salads include local ingredients, such as daikon (giant radish) and tofu. Parents can wash it all down with Bikkuri’s very own beer. The décor of this restaurant chain is quirky and distinctive, looking like a ramshackle hut with a few nods to the American wild west.

    Location: 3-1-18 Kita 2 Jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8.30 am to 9 pm. Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)11-252-0520

    Map

    photo by 光朝 (CC0 1.0) modified

    2

    Nijo Market

    Nijo Market sells seafood at its freshest from hole-in-the-wall food stalls. Among the most popular menu items here is uni ikura donburi (sea urchin and salmon eggs on rice). Your sea urchin will be taken out of a seawater tank and served on the spot. Check out some of the biggest crabs you’ll ever see alongside piles of whole salmon and an array of a conch-like shellfish stuck to sides of large tanks.

    Location: 1 Chome Minami 3 Johigashi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0053, Japan

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 6 pm (varies by store)

    Phone: +81 (0)11-222-5308

    Map

    photo by Wing1990hk (CC BY 3.0) modified

    3

    Kyodo Rori Suginome

    Freshly-caught seafood served in stylish private dining rooms

    Kyodo Rori Suginome lets you dine on Hokkaido cuisine in the privacy of Japanese-style rooms. The warehouse restaurant has served fresh seafood to Royal Family members and other distinguished guests in its illustrious history. You can select from daily catches and enjoy full-course menus only available in Hokkaido. The traditional Japanese design heightens the ambience as the delightful staff serves each dish.

    The Hokkai course features ruibe (frozen salmon), sea urchin, soi (rockfish), and other seafood served on ice. Caught in the Sea of Okhotsk, kichiji (rockfish) makes a savoury dish with intense flavour. You can also order dishes a la carte with selections such as horsehair crab, sanpei soup, yukimochi dumplings, and broiled king crab.

    Location: 5 Chome Minami 5 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0805, Japan

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 5 pm to 9 pm (closed Sunday–Thursday)

    Phone: +81 11-521-0888

    Map
    4

    Shabu-Shabu On-Yasai Sapporo

    A go-to for Sapporo’s sizzling hot pots

    Shabu-Shabu On-Yasai Sapporo is a great place to try Japan's famous self-serve hot pot dish. On-Yasai is part of a well-loved chain and is always popular with locals. Eating Shabu Shabu is quite an experience for the uninitiated. It involves the diner doing a share of the cooking, as the raw meat and vegetables are presented to the table – allowing the guest to dip the ingredients into the sizzling hot pot placed in front.

    Once you get the hang of it, it's a unique, fun way to enjoy mealtime, and you can take some pride in what you helped create as you enjoy the deliciously hearty broth. If you're particularly hungry, you can always opt for the all-you-can-eat option.

    Location: Sansuribiru, 3 Chome Minami 3 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0063, Japan

    Open: Daily from 4 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)1-12238829

    Map
    5

    Kikuzushi

    Kikuzushi is the stuff of sushi legend. This restaurant has been in continuous operation since the Taisho period (1912-26) and is considered to serve some of the freshest sushi and sashimi in the whole of Japan. Sitting up at the counter and watching the chef diligently craft your meal is a memorable experience of Japanese cuisine.

    Ask for the omakase set, and let the chef help you choose your meal, including both miso soup and as much green tea as you can drink. Kikuzushi is also renowned for its generous selection of Japanese sake, the perfect accompaniment to sushi, featuring brands from all over the country.

    Location: Grand Keiwa bldg 1F, 3-10 Minami, 5 Jonishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 064-0805, Japan

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 5 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +81 (0)11 511 9357

    Map
    6

    Hanagi

    Hanagi serves up traditional dishes from Kyushu, Japan's southernmost major island. This is an elegant-looking restaurant in Premier Hotel Tsubaki Sapporo and an altogether excellent place to try out different aspects of Japanese food.

    Order one of the set courses available to experiment with sashimi, grilled fish and seafood, pickled and fresh vegetables, and the famous Kyushu basashi which is thin slices of raw horsemeat accompanied by grated ginger and soy sauce. There’s plenty of beer and sake available, but the best drink to accompany your food here is shochu – a Japanese liquor. The dining rooms are as traditional as the fine-dining cuisine. 

    Location: Premier Hotel Tsubaki Sapporo, 1-1-1 Toyohira 4-jyo, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 062-0904, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11.50 am to 2 pm and 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)11 814 8711

    Map

    photo by 663highland (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    Sushi Toriton Toyohira

    Delights served fresh from Hokkaido's oceans

    Sushi Toriton Toyohira is a popular restaurant famous for its mouthwatering sushi and sashimi. Part of the popular Toriton Sushi restaurant chain, the Toyohira branch is a great place to experience an unpretentious, local dining experience.

    Hokkaido is revered for its fantastic seafood, so visitors should certainly consider giving it a try here – but anyone unwilling will be glad to find chicken and noodle dishes on the menu as well. Menus are available in English and diners pay by the plate, with 2 pieces of sushi per plate. Sushi Toriton’s prices are well-varied – cheaper options are available alongside indulgent prime cuts. Hot green tea is served free, and beer and sake are available for anyone hankering after something a little stronger. 

    Location: 6 Chome-1-10 Toyohira 4 Jo, Toyohira Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 062-0904, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)1-18177788

    Map
    8

    Sapporo Kani Honke

    The cold waters around Hokkaido are known and respected as the breeding grounds of the finest-tasting crab in Japan, and Sapporo Kani Honke is one of the best crab restaurants in town. It serves all kinds, from the famous king crab to the tasty hairy crab, in a variety of different dishes. Crab is served as sashimi, steamed or grilled, and always handled with care so the flavour of star ingredient can shine through.  

    Traditionally designed, with tatami mat rooms, shoji screens, stone walkways between rooms, and even a pond for the living crabs, Kani Honke could never be called bargain basement cheap, but it has class – and that costs.

    There are now 2 Kani Honke restaurants in Sapporo, one near JR Sapporo station and the other near Susukino station. Advance reservations highly advised. 

    Location: 4-1-3 Minami 6-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 064-0806, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)11-551-0018

    Map

    photo by Yusuke Kawasaki (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Sapporo Beer Garden and Genghis Khan Hall

    For a meaty experience with lots of beer to swill it down with, try the Sapporo Beer Garden. Combining a large German-style Bierkeller with an all-you-can-eat buffet – commonly known as Genghis Khan in Sapporo – you get a fun and boisterous experience here.  Handsome on the outside with its red brick facade, the inside is imposing and cavern-like. More of a group experience than a fine-dining event, things tend to get a little boisterous once the beer starts flowing. There are several ‘Genghis Khan’ establishments (so called due to the helmet-like shape of the bowls) in Sapporo, but this is one of the best. It’s an all-you-can-eat affair with beef and pork.

    Location: 9-2-10, Kita 7 Jo, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 065-0007, Japan

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +81 (0)120-150-550

    Map

    photo by Thomas Au (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    Sky J

    Sky J is a rooftop restaurant situated on the 35th floor of the JR Tower Hotel Nikko. This buffet restaurant has scintillating views of downtown Sapporo and serves a combination of European, American and Japanese flavours. Despite the lack of clear direction, all the food served at Sky J is excellent and worthy of a 5-star hotel. Sky J is a classy and sophisticated restaurant with good décor – but the prices aren't sky high. To accompany your meal, live jazz is played in the evenings. Reservations necessary.

    Location: JR Tower Hotel 35F, 2 Chome−5, Kita 5 Jonishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-0005, Japan

    Open: Breakfast from 7 am to 10 am. Lunch from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm. Dinner from 5.30 pm to midnight

    Phone: +81 (0)11-251-6377

    Map

    photo by sodai gomi (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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