Sapporo is not only home to a lot of dishes that use seafood, but it is also famous for its many shops and restaurants where you can eat “kaisendon" (a rice bowl topped with slices of raw fish, seafood and other ingredients). Here are five recommended shops in Sapporo where you can enjoy excellent kaisendon even if you're not familiar with the city.
1. Kaisen Shokudo Kita no Gourmet-tei
Located at the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market, Kita no Gourmet-tei is a shop where you can taste the hit Kaisendon (3,210 JPY) that is filled with 10 types of seafood from Hokkaido. It has so many toppings that the rice and even the bowl is hidden underneath. This dish is also particular about the rice, and it's made only using rice harvested in Hokkaido, so you can say that it is a rice bowl that is packed with the tastes of Hokkaido. The chefs here are able to prepare the ingredients that were purchased from Kita no Gourmet, the neighboring seafood market, so if there is any ingredient that you want, then try to talk to the chefs. This shop offers complimentary shuttle service from hotels in Chuo-ku and Kita-ku (some hotels only) and Sapporo Station’s North Exit starting 6:30 am in time for its 7:00 am opening. So, how about inserting a meal at this shop into your sightseeing itinerary?
2. Hakodate Uni Murakami Nihon Seimei Sapporo Bldg. Branch
Hakodate Uni Murakami is a place where you can eat the Mutenka Namauni-don (Additive-Free Fresh Sea Urchin Rice Bowl) (4,000 JPY (excl. tax)) that is completely free of the additive called alum which is normally used to make sure that the meat keeps its shape. A sea urchin processing company directly runs this place, so it is naturally able to serve additive-free sea urchins. You can enjoy the robust sweetness and delicious taste of sea urchins to your heart’s content. This shop offers a wide variety of other sea urchin dishes, including Uni Gratin (Sea Urchin Gratin (900 JPY (excl. tax))) that is popular with women, and the Unitsukushi Course (Assorted Sea Urchins) (6,000 JPY (excl. tax)) that you can order on the day you visit. So, eat up the sumptuous sea urchin dishes inside this shop that was designed based on the concept of Neo-Japonisme.
3. Umi Hachikyo Main Branch
Hachikyo is the shop that is famous for Tsukko Meshi (1,990 JPY for whole, 1,600 JPY for half), a salmon roe rice bowl that usually shocks customers. When this dish is ordered, the staff carrying your rice bowl that's already filled with salmon roe will continue putting more and more on it, yelling "oisa! oisa!" The enthusiastic shouts in unison from everyone in the shop is quite enjoyable. This shop's salmon roe is so high-grade that it's recognized and recommended by local residents. They also have grilled food and other delicious dishes, but reservations are required. Hachikyo is a seafood izakaya (Japanese gastropub) that you can only find in Hokkaido.
4. Sakanaya no Daidokoro
Sakanaya no Daidokoro is a restaurant where the recommended dish is the Omakase Kaisendon (Kaisendon Selected by the Chef) (Supreme: 3,000 JPY (excl. tax)), which is overflowing with seafood. It is filled to the brim with 15-20 kinds of seafood that were sourced by this shop’s owner from Hokkaido, including crabs, shrimp, scallops, Botan shrimp, and sea urchins! Now separate from the main toppings, you can order live scallops and fresh sea urchins to be put on top of your bowl as well, so you can have as many ingredients and toppings as you want. This shop is located near the center of Sapporo City, home to the Sapporo Clock Tower and the Sapporo TV Tower, so it is also the perfect spot for enjoying sightseeing at Nijo Market where seafood and agricultural products are sold.
If you are looking for reasonably priced kaisendon, then all you have to do is head out to Donbe where you can enjoy any number of dishes with a single Japanese coin. The Kaisenbara Chirashidon (Diced Seafood Rice Bowl) is only 500 JPY (excl. tax) here, although it comes in limited quantity. With this dish, the brightly colored fish slices that have been diced into 1cm pieces look just like a flower garden. The combination of various kinds of seafood slices and the light crunchiness of the cucumber will create an interesting texture in your mouth. Plus, the homemade soy sauce that this shop uses works really well in this dish. Now aside from the above, this shop offers many other kaisendon dishes that use fish and seafood that have just been won in the auction at the market. It is open from 7:00 am until 1:00 pm, which is early for a market. Donbe closes as soon as its ingredients and vinegar rice run out, so try to wake up early so you can make it to this restaurant before it closes.
Hokkaido’s delicious fish and seafood grow in sea that is rich in nutrients and are packed with fats due to the cold waters of the region’s seas. Hokkaido is home to innumerable fish and seafood, including salmon, salmon roe, large and sweet scallops, Botan shrimp and additive-free sea urchins that are available since this area is close to the source. Fresh kaisendon in Hokkaido will surely become an unforgettable taste for you!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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