Last Updated On 6th February 2024 By Lauren | Wild Lovely World
Discover delicious, unique and famous local food you must eat in Hokkaido (and where to find it) in this Hokkaido Food Guide.
Many places in Japan have famous local food specialities, and Hokkaido is no exception! Hokkaido has a ton of famous food, much of which can only be found in Hokkaido. These local dishes have a unique Hokkaido flair and are a definite must-eat when you’re in the prefecture.
If you’re a proper foodie like me, you’ll love trying these local dishes. In this Hokkaido Food Guide, I share with you 13 unique and famous local dishes you’ve got to try in Hokkaido. We will look at Hokkaido ramen, Hokkaido seafood, Hokkaido dairy, desserts and interesting dishes unique to Hokkaido!
I’ve also included a restaurant guide so that you know where to go in Hokkaido to eat these amazing foods.
Hokkaido Food Guide – Why Hokkaido Has The Best Food In Japan!
I’ll share a secret with you. Hokkaido has amazing food! I may be biased because I lived in Hokkaido for 2 years, but I actually think Hokkaido has the best food in all of Japan! Seriously, it’s so delicious!
Hokkaido is lucky to have a lot of wonderful local produce. Almost every town and village in Hokkaido is famous for a vegetable it grows or a fruit it cultivated (yes, Yubari melon, I’m talking about you!). The unique, local foods listed in this post utilise the best of Hokkaido’s famous ingredients – mainly seafood, vegetables and dairy.
A lot of Hokkaido’s dishes are heart-warming. This is much needed due to the cold northern climate! One of Hokkaido’s best and most unique local dishes is full of delicious spices, which is unusual for Japanese food. I absolutely love spicy food, so of course, this is one of my personal favourites!
For those with a sweet tooth (me included), there are plenty of tasty treats to be enjoyed too! Don’t worry, I got you covered!
Famous Local Food You’ve Got To Try in Hokkaido (& Where To Find It!) – Complete Hokkaido Food Guide
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Hokkaido Style Ramen 🍜
Every prefecture in Japan has its own style of making ramen! Lucky for Hokkaido, there are several regional variations of this tasty noodle soup.
There are three famous styles of Hokkaido Ramen, all named after the cities they originate from: Sapporo, Asahikawa and Hakodate.
Let’s dig in and learn more about these tasty ramen flavours!
1. Hokkaido/Sapporo Ramen (Miso Ramen)
Hokkaido Ramen is also known as the Sapporo Ramen. This is because this style of ramen originated in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido prefecture. When people talk of Hokkaido Style Ramen, this is the ramen they are usually referring to.
Hokkaido has a huge corn and dairy industry, which inspires their Hokkaido Style Ramen. To make it Hokkaido Style, the hot noodles are topped with sweetcorn and a big knob of butter which melts into the delicious, flavourful broth – yum!
The broth is famously miso flavoured, but you can find soy sauce, salt, shrimp and even spicy versions too. I remember trying lots of different flavours of Hokkaido Ramen when I lived in Hokkaido, including shrimp salt and spicy miso. Both were fantastic so I recommend you give them a try too!
The Hokkaido Ramen can have various other toppings including seafood (scallops and crab), chāshū チャーシュー (braised pork belly), menma メンマ(fermented bamboo shoots), bean sprouts and spring onions.
Where To Eat Hokkaido/Sapporo Ramen In Hokkaido
If you want to try Hokkaido Ramen, head to the Ganso Ramen Yokocho (Original Ramen Alley) (link to location in Google Maps) in Sapporo. This little street is full of great ramen shops. Here, you can try this unique and famous local food of Hokkaido. In fact, the Ganso Ramen Yokocho is said to be the birthplace of the Hokkaido Ramen style!
There are many restaurants to choose from so sometimes it can be hard to make a choice. I recommend you try the Teshikaga Ramen (link to their website) restaurant.
2. Asahikawa Ramen (Soy Sauce Ramen)
The next famous style of ramen you can find in Hokkaido is the Asahikawa Ramen. Asahikawa, the second largest city in Hokkaido, is famous for its sho yu 醤油 (soy sauce) ramen.
I absolutely love shoyu ramen! It has such a good flavour. But the Asahikawa Ramen has a twist. The broth of the soup is made from a mix of seafood, pork and chicken and flavoured with soy sauce. This gives it a lovely mellow and refreshing taste which is very different from any other ramen I have ever tried!
There’s another surprising ingredient in the Asahikawa Ramen. Asahikawa, being in the north of the island, is known for being a very cold city. For this reason, it needs good ramen to warm people up!
Lucky, then, that the geniuses who invented this tasty style of ramen added a layer of lard on top of the soup. The layer of lard floats on top so it is meant to keep the ramen warmer for longer on cold winter days!
Does it work, you ask? Why yes, I think it does! When I tried the Asahikawa Ramen, I did think that it stayed warmer longer than just a typical bowl of ramen, despite the freezing temperature outside.
The addition of lard might sound gross, but it just makes it quite an oily soup. I thought the overall taste was really good when I tried it! Especially when I visited in the middle of winter! It was a real treat after wandering around the Asahiyama Zoo (link to Japan Guide) in the snow.
Where To Eat Asahikama Ramen In Hokkaido
Asahikawa has its own Ramen Village (link to location in Google Maps). This small collection of ramen restaurants close to the city centre gives you plenty of opportunity to try this unique and local famous Hokkaido food. This is where I ate the Asahikawa Ramen and I had a really good experience. Here you can also get small and mini-size ramen, so you can try different ones and compare them.
Outside of the Ramen Village, there are many great ramen restaurants in Asahikawa. If you want to know what the locals love and recommend, check out this post at Live Japan.
3. Hakodate Ramen (Salt Ramen)
Hakodate is a city in the south of Hokkaido and, before I tell you about the ramen, you need to know one thing – Hakodate is a super fun place to visit! I highly recommend you include it on your Hokkaido itinerary.
Now, on to the ramen! Hakodate is famous for it’s shio しお (salt) ramen, which rounds up the Hokkaido Style Ramen trilogy!
Hakodate Ramen has an elegant taste due to the clear and light broth. The soup is made with pork, chicken, kelp and vegetables. It comes with the usual toppings, including chāshū チャーシュー (braised pork belly), menma メンマ (fermented bamboo shoots) and spring onions.
Where To Eat Hakodate Ramen In Hokkaido
I don’t have my own personal recommendation for where to try Hakodate Ramen. So, I suggest you check out these two posts at Live Japan to find the best shio しお (salt) ramen in Hakodate.
Other Unique Flavours Of Ramen
Sapporo Ramen, Asahikawa Ramen and Hakodate Ramen are the three main famous styles of Hokkaido Ramen which are unique foods to the prefecture.
So, if you try each of these styles of Hokkaido Ramen – Sapporo miso, Asahikawa sho yu 醤油 (soy sauce) and Hakodate shio しお (salt), you’ll have tried all the main soup flavours of ramen. 😃
But, the yum doesn’t stop there! 😉 There are some other special ramen flavours which you can find in other cities in Hokkaido. New combinations are being created all the time.
Check out this post from Live Japan to learn about the soy sauce-flavoured Kushiro Ramen and the amazing Muroran Curry Ramen.
Sapporo Food Tour: If you’re keen to discover Sapporo through food, why not join this private and personalised ‘Eat Like A Local’ Tour (Get Your Guide). Your local guide will take you on a culinary adventure in Hokkaido’s capital city, to enjoy Hokkaido ramen, Genghis khan, Sapporo beer and sake.
Hokkaido Seafood 🐟
Hokkaido seafood is renowned all over Japan for its freshness. This is thanks to the nutrients in the sea and the cool climate.
This makes Hokkaido the perfect place to try sushi and sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish)!
There are several particular kinds of seafood that are famous in Hokkaido. The most famous Hokkaido seafood are the uni, crab and kaisen don. Let’s look at these one by one below.
4. Uni (Sea Urchin)
Uni うに (sea urchin) is famous in Hokkaido – especially on the Shakotan Peninsula. Usually, it is eaten raw and straight from the shell!
Where To Eat Uni (Sea Urchin) In Hokkaido
I recommend you try Uni うに sea urchin at the Nakamuraya (link to location in Google Maps) restaurant in Shakotan. This is a great little restaurant which I enjoyed eating at on a trip to Shakotan with my friends.
Crab is very famous in Hokkaido. There are several kinds of crab you can eat in Hokkaido. Hokkaido Labo (link to their website) has a guide to the different kinds of Hokkaido crab, including horsehair, snow and red king among others.
Where To Eat Crab In Hokkaido
The most popular place to eat crab in Hokkaido is the Kanihonke (link to their website) restaurant in Sapporo. This famous restaurant is very easy to find because there is a giant moving crab in front of the building!
6. Kaisen Don (Seafood Rice Bowl)
The Kaisen Don かいせん どん is a rice bowl which combines the best of Hokkaido’s seafood into one. You can try all of the best Hokkaido seafood in the Kaisen Don. This includes uni (sea urchin), crab, ikura (salmon roe), salmon and scallops served over rice.
Where To Eat Kaisen Don In Hokkaido
You can find Kaisen Don かいせん どん all over Hokkaido. I recommend getting one at a fresh fish market, such as The Morning Market (link to the location in Google Maps) in Hakodate. I went there with my friends a few times while I was visiting them in Hakodate.
The Morning Market is open really early in the morning, so you can go there at 5 am and get some fresh seafood which they have literally just brought in off the boat! Once we went there to get food after a night out of drinking and karaoke! Maybe it’s not that strange as a lot of Japanese people eat seafood for breakfast.
I have to admit that I am not a big fan of seafood, but they have a lot of different options for all tastes. My friends tell me that the seafood is really delicious and fresh. The atmosphere is really lively there too so it’s a great place even for just a look around!
7. Lamb & Vegetable BBQ (Genghis Khan) 🐑
Lamb is a meat which isn’t eaten much in Japan outside of Hokkaido. Hokkaido has its very own unique and famous local food featuring lamb. It’s called Jingisukan ジンギスカン, or Genghis Khan.
In 1918, the Japanese government decided to increase the flock of sheep in Japan to one million. They established five new sheep farms in Japan. However, all of these were demolished except the two in Hokkaido. Therefore, lamb and mutton became a local delicacy.
The food is named after Genghis Khan because it was believed that Mongolian soldiers would use their metal hats to cook meat in. And maybe they also enjoyed eating sheep.
Genghis Khan is a really cool and fun food to eat in Hokkaido. Restaurants will have a BBQ in the centre of the table so you can cook the food yourself. You can choose the meat (lamb or mutton) and different vegetables, such as pumpkin and cabbage, to eat on the BBQ. You can dip the meat into a sauce before eating. After all the meat and vegetables have been cooked, you can order some noodles to be cooked in the juices to finish off the meal.
It can be a super messy and smelly meal to eat. Restaurants may provide a plastic bib or apron which you can wear while in the restaurant! It’s a little bit silly, but it just adds to the fun of eating Genghis Khan!
I highly recommend eating Genghis Khan with a group of friends and a few beers! Many restaurants have a tabehodai 食べ放題 /nomihodai 飲み放題 deal (all-you-can-eat and drink, including beer) which can be incredible value!
Where To Eat Genghis Khan In Hokkaido
There are many great Genghis Khan restaurants in Sapporo. There are two places that I can recommend.
I first tried Genghis Khan at the Kirin Beer Garden (link to their website) in the heart of Susukino (the main nightlife area of Sapporo). I went there with a bunch of friends and I had a really great night! The restaurant is large and has a great atmosphere. Plus, I thought the food was really tasty! At the Kirin Beer Garden, you can eat this super yummy Hokkaido favourite, as well as many appetisers, desserts, and drinks! They offer a tabehodai 食べ放題 /nomihodai 飲み放題 (all you can eat and drink) for around 4,000 yen (GBP£28) per person!
Another great restaurant where you can eat Genghis Khan in Sapporo is the Sapporo Beer Garden (link to their website). They have great reviews and a similar deal available with all-you-can-eat and drink for around 4,000 yen (GBP£28) per person. It is located (link to Google Maps) next to the Sapporo Beer Museum (link to their website) so you could combine these two activities together.
8. Japanese Style Curry With A Rich Soup Broth (Soup Curry) 🍛
This really is a unique Hokkaido dish!
Soup Curry (スープカレー) is an amazing famous local food of Hokkaido that originated from a Sapporo cafe in 1971. The cafe served curry rice which they called “medicine curry” because it was full of herbs and spices. From this, it grew in popularity thanks to its delicious flavour and warming effect in the cold Hokkaido winters. Now, you can find Soup Curry cafes all over Sapporo, Hokkaido and even abroad.
Soup Curry is my absolute favourite Hokkaido food because it is just so delicious! And I’ll tell you why…
It is a wonderful combination of a curry-flavoured soup and a mix of vibrant and colourful vegetables. It can be served with pumpkin, okra, peppers, aubergine, potato, carrots and more.
Usually, a tender fall-off-the-bone chicken leg is served in the soup too, but you can also get vegan/vegetarian options such as tofu which are awesome.
Steamed rice is served on the side and then scooped up and dipped into the curry before eating.
You can also enjoy drinking a lassi with your Soup Curry in many restaurants!
Many Soup Curry shops will even let you customize your soup, from the spice level and soup bases to the vegetables and toppings. So if you want it very mild or really spicy, there is this option for you too!
It is a really flavourful and nutritious meal that is best enjoyed on a cold and snowy day to warm the soul. It definitely is a must-eat in Hokkaido!
Where To Eat Soup Curry In Hokkaido
You’ll find a number of well-reviewed Soup Curry cafes in Sapporo.
SAMA (link to their website) is a great Soup Curry cafe with a really tasty menu! Before I left Hokkaido to return to the UK, I ate my last meal at SAMA! They have several branches in Hokkaido and now they have some in other prefectures such as Tokyo and overseas in Singapore too.
9. Hot Pot (Ishikari Nabe) 🍲
This famous local food is named after the longest river in Hokkaido – the Ishikari River.
Originally a simple fisherman’s stew, it was often cooked on the beach after catching salmon at the mouth of the Ishikari River.
Ishikari Nabe is a miso-based soup stock that is usually served with salmon or trout, tofu, vegetables.
Nabe 鍋 is short for nabemono 鍋物 which is a large pot used to make hot pot – a dish where all the ingredients are cooked together.
Nabe is especially popular in the wintertime because it is very warming, tasty and simple. It is great shared with a group of friends.
Where To Eat Ishikari Nabe In Hokkaido
Kindaitei (link to Google Maps) is a speciality nabe restaurant in Ishikari city. It opened in 1880 and is still in the same building and serving the same nabe recipe since it was established! Reservations are required and it is a little bit pricey, with menu options starting at 3,000 yen (GBP£21). However, it is guaranteed to be a unique and memorable dining experience! You can learn more about this great restaurant at Live Japan.
10. Lucky Pierrot Burger & Chips 🍔
If you want to try some original Japanese fast food, you must try Lucky Pierrot (link to their website)! This wacky burger restaurant has won loads of awards, including Best Local Burger Store in Japan!
Must-eat menu items at Lucky Pierrot are the Chinese Chicken Burger and the Original Lucky Potato.
The Nikkei newspaper named the Chinese Chicken Burger the Best Local Burger in all of Japan. The burger costs about 400 yen (GBP£2.80). It is a tender crispy chicken burger served with lettuce and optional cheese.
The Original Lucky Potato fries are yummy deep-fried chips drizzled in a creamy cheese sauce and served in a mug! They cost about 350 yen (GBP£2.50).
I really enjoyed eating Lucky Pierrot with my friends in Hakodate. It is pure comfort food!
Where To Eat Lucky Pierrot Burger & Chips In Hokkaido
This famous Japanese fast-food chain restaurant has 17 stores all in Hakodate. And they have no plans of expanding anywhere else in Japan! Therefore, if you want to try the most famous local burger in Japan, you have to come to Hakodate in Hokkaido!
The different themed restaurants can make your visit extra special. Each store has its own unique theme – from Audrey Hepburn to Boticelli to Christmas! The restaurants are decorated relating to the theme – with paintings, statues, photographs, furniture and other paraphernalia. Every store is completely individual and no two stores are the same (although they have the same menu!). You can see a complete list of the themes (with pictures) at Next Plane Out.
11. Obihiro Baked Sweet Potato 🍠
These aren’t just any old baked potatoes! The Obihiro Baked Sweet Potato takes an old classic to a whole new level!
My friends told me about this amazing, famous local food when I was planning a trip to Obihiro in Hokkaido. I absolutely love regular baked sweet potatoes so I had to try it! And I’ll tell you now, I was not disappointed!
These potatoes are very unique and I haven’t heard of anyone else making them in this way.
Obihiro is a city in Hokkaido that is famous for its potato produce. The Baked Sweet Potato is famous in Obihiro as a local speciality.
To make them, they cut open the baked sweet potatoes and scoop out the insides. They mix this with butter and eggs and then bake it for about an hour and a half. The insides become an amazing custardy cream encased in a crispy top and skin. The insides are deliciously moist and creamy with a slightly sweet taste. I’m drooling at the thought of it!
Where To Eat Obihiro Baked Sweet Potato In Hokkaido
You must try the Obihiro Baked Sweet Potato at the cafe Cranberry (link to the location in Google Maps) in Obihiro city.
This cafe was founded in 1972 and is famous for its large baked sweet potatoes. It is just a short walk from Obihiro JR Station, so you can buy one to eat in or take away to enjoy on the train.
The potatoes can vary in price depending on their weight – the larger it is the more it will cost. They also serve the sweet potatoes in a set which you can enjoy with a coffee or a tea for about 500 yen (GBP£3.50).
And of course, they have a sweet potato soft-serve ice cream!
I found a great blog post about the Obihiro Baked Sweet Potato at Cranberry on Smart Magazine. Check it out to see pictures and a review.
Hokkaido Dairy 🐮
Hokkaido’s colder climate and beautiful wide, open countryside make it ideal for dairy farming. The cows are said to have a pretty good life in Hokkaido because of the fresh air, plenty of green grass and spacious environment to live in. These good conditions make Hokkaido well known for its delicious and high-quality dairy products such as milk, cream, and butter.
Hokkaido dairy is now becoming famous all over the world. When I was in Asia, for example, I saw a lot of ‘Hokkaido cheese’ and ‘Hokkaido milk’ products in cafes and shops. It is definitely something of a ‘food trend’ at the moment!
12. Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart 🍰
An amazing, sweet food made of quality Hokkaido dairy is the Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart.
Imagine a buttery, crumbly pastry filled with a rich, fluffy cheesecake mousse, topped with a crispy baked crust. Oh yes, it’s as good as it sounds!
The humble Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart has now become internationally famous. Shops all over the world are now selling their own versions of this tasty treat. It is especially popular in Asia, particularly Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, China, Vietnam and Indonesia. The trend is now expanding to Australia and New Zealand. So even if you don’t get a chance to try this local famous food in Hokkaido itself, chances are you will have an opportunity somewhere near you soon!
Where To Eat Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart In Hokkaido
Kinotoya Bake (link to their website) is the place to eat the Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart! There are several stores in Hokkaido, including at Chitose Airport. I usually visited the store in the Sapporo JR Station. It’s a great place to pick up this tasty snack after arriving in Sapporo on the train! You can buy a single cheese tart for around 200 yen (GBP£1.40).
13. Hokkaido Soft Serve Ice Cream 🍦
As you can see, I have saved the best for last!
The best of Hokkaido’s dairy can be found in the amazingly tasty Hokkaido “soft cream”, or soft serve ice cream. This delicious treat tends to have a smoother and creamier taste than other ice creams because of the fresh milk and rich cream used to make it.
Vanilla is the standard flavour, but there are so many crazy flavours in existence! Unique flavours of soft serve ice cream you can try in Hokkaido are:
- Squid Ink
- Uni うに (sea urchin)
- Shibazakura 芝桜 (moss phlox)
- Sakura 桜 (cherry blossom)
- Yubari melon
- Sweet potato
- Shakotan blue
- & Many, many more!
Where To Eat Hokkaido Soft Serve Ice Cream
The best way to enjoy Hokkaido Soft Serve Ice Cream is to travel around the island!
Many towns and villages have their own unique speciality flavour of soft serve ice cream. This is usually related to a famous sightseeing attraction or food the town produces. For example, at the famous and beautiful lavender fields in Furano, you can eat lavender ice cream. In Takinoue, which is famous for beautiful lawns of pink flowers, you can eat moss phlox ice cream. In Yubari, you can try Yubari Melon ice cream. Whenever I was in a new town, it was always really fun to try new soft-serve ice cream flavours.
A good place to try regional ice cream flavours is to check out the local Michi-no-Eki (roadside rest area – link to their website) as you are travelling around. These centres usually have a shop where you can try and buy local products, including soft serve ice cream! There are 128 Michi-no-Ekis in Hokkaido so you’re bound to try some great flavours!
Sapporo Food Tour – ‘Eat Like A Local’
If you’re keen to discover Sapporo through food, why not join this private and personalised ‘Eat Like A Local’ Tour (Get Your Guide). Your local guide will take you on a culinary adventure in Hokkaido’s capital city, to enjoy Hokkaido ramen, Genghis khan, Sapporo beer and sake. Try the amazing foods in this Hokkaido Food Guide in Sapporo with a local!
Hokkaido Food Guide: 13 Famous Local Foods You’ve Got To Try – Thanks For Reading
So there you have it, 13 unique and famous local foods you must eat in Hokkaido. We’ve looked at Hokkaido-style ramen, Hokkaido seafood, Hokkaido dairy and delicious unique Hokkaido desserts. I hope this inspires you to try one (or all!) of these amazing, tasty foods on your visit! – Lauren x
Have you visited Hokkaido and have any other recommendations for famous local foods that are a must-eat? Are you planning to make a visit to Hokkaido and want to eat these foods during your trip? Let me know in the comments! 😊
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