[2018-19 Edition] Ten Recommended Izakaya in Sapporo
Hokkaido is full of fantastic ingredients and local cuisines to enjoy. In Sapporo, where many people gather, there are many outstanding izakaya (Japanese bars) that are dedicated to serving items made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. This article introduces 10 izakaya selected by Japanese diners.
1. Kushiro Shin-Hokkaido Bldg. Branch
This is an izakaya where you can enjoy seasonal food from Hokkaido served chargrilled. A variety of ingredients ranging from seafood - such as crabs, oysters, and shrimp - to Wagyu beef and vegetables are grilled by skilled chefs. They are cooked at just the right temperature so that the natural flavors of the ingredients are maximized, resulting in a crunchy surface and inside that is soft and fluffy. The seafood that is procured from a dedicated wholesaler is extremely fresh. The sashimi is, of course, fantastic. This is an izakaya where you can relax and enjoy a meal in a Japanese-style space that will make you feel like you're in a whole other world.
2. Umi-no Mono Yama-no Mono Kitaguni-no
This is an izakaya where you can enjoy primarily seafood dishes such as fresh oysters, squid, and salmon. The oysters (200 JPY/each (excl. tax)) that are procured directly from producers year round are rich and plump, and are available at a discounted price of 100 JPY (excl. tax) on Tuesdays. The Kamuy-cep (600 JPY (excl. tax)), which means "salmon" in Ainu (the language of the indigenous people of Hokkaido), is a popular dish of homemade smoked salmon and ham. Enjoy it together with local sake from Hokkaido.
3. MINNA DE KORERUMON Sapporo Station Nishiguchimae Branch
This is an izakaya that prides itself in its offal hot pots that are great to gather around and enjoy together with conversation. The recommended dish is the Premium Wagyu Offal Hot Pot (white soy sauce flavor) (1,280 JPY (excl. tax)), in which super fresh offal of premium Wagyu beef from Hokkaido is served in a homemade soup that's been boiling away for hours. The sweet and fatty offal is so good, it can be addictive. The Offal Hot Pot (spicy miso flavor) (1,280 JPY (excl. tax)) is recommended for those who like spicy food. The spicy miso sauce mixed with the umami (Japanese savory taste) of the offal goes perfectly with alcohol. Try it with Sapporo Classic, a draft beer available only in Hokkaido.
This is an izakaya where you can enjoy super fresh seafood that is procured every day and chargrilled to perfection. The wonderfully fresh seafood is displayed in front of the counter, so customers can get excited about which ones to eat. If you are in the mood to try a variety of items, order the Chako-no Kimagure Robatamori (1,980 JPY (excl. tax)), a chef's selection of fresh ingredients delivered that day, served grilled. The thick and fatty Split Open Hokke (1,280 JPY (excl. tax)), which consists of an Okhotsk Atka mackerel that is so large, it almost juts out of the plate, is also fantastic. Enjoy it with local sake from Hokkaido and a selection of local sake from around the country.
5. Umihe Kita 3-jo Branch
This is an izakaya just one minute on foot from Sapporo Station serving a full range of Hokkaido flavors. It is perfect for those who don't have the time to go to specialty restaurants or want to enjoy all types of Hokkaido food at once. Almost all Hokkaido specialties are available there, such as the Assorted Sashimi Boat (1,690 JPY (excl. tax) and up), a luxurious selection of fresh sashimi; hair crab, red king crab, and snow crab from Hokkaido; dishes made with Hokkaido potatoes; and jingisukan (a grilled mutton and vegetable dish). The izakaya is also popular for its super-cold beer that is kept below freezing point.
6. Sakagura Sapporo Kitaguchi Branch
This is an izakaya that serves sushi, regional pot dishes, and chargrilled skewers. Although most izakaya in Hokkaido have fresh seafood, few offer professional-grade sushi. The sushi can be ordered as an assortment, or individually for 100 JPY (excl. tax) to 390 JPY (excl. tax) a piece (minimum order of two), so you can get just the sushi that you want. The Hokkai Ishikari-nabe (1,880 JPY (excl. tax)) is a regional pot dish full of salmon from Hokkaido and vegetables that warms the body up during the cold Hokkaido winter. The rich flavors of miso and butter in the hot pot are outstanding.
This is an izakaya near the Sapporo Clock Tower that is popular among locals. It is a place where you can enjoy the bounties of Hokkaido's nature, such as hair crab, live squid, asparagus, potatoes, kinki (broadbanded thornyhead), sea urchin, Hokkaido deer, and hokke. There are sashimi and grilled dishes, as well as chargrilled large hokke (reservation required), rarely found anywhere else. There's also the winter-only Kinki Nabe (3,000 JPY (incl. tax)) that makes use of the premium Hokkaido fish, kinki. Orders can be placed using a tablet with a translated menu and photographs.
8. Kamiiso Kita Dai-Ichi Futo Sapporo Clock Tower Branch
This is the Sapporo Clock Tower branch of a popular izakaya with three locations in Sapporo. It prides itself in the fresh seafood that is procured through a unique channel from fishing ports around southern Hokkaido. The sugata-zukuri (sashimi arranged in the original shape of the fish) of live squid from a tank in the restaurant (market price) is especially popular for its outstanding freshness. Be sure to reserve it in advance if you don't want to chance missing it. The special seafood bowl where you can choose the toppings for yourself is also recommended. Sometimes, very unusual parts that even connoisseurs are surprised by are available.
This is the only izakaya in Sapporo managed by a sake brewery. As an izakaya run by a sake brewery, it offers tastings of local sake as well as home cured items and dishes that enhance the flavors of local sake. It has a wide selection of sake, among which the Shibarezake (680 JPY (excl. tax)) is a peculiar sake that freezes in front of your eyes once poured into a glass. Why not warm up your body with the Mixed Hot Pot (1,000 JPY/per person (excl. tax)), a menu item unique to this izakaya that uses plenty of sake?
This is an izakaya where diners can enjoy chargrilled, fresh seafood procured directly from fishing ports. Their counter seating, appropriate even for solo customers, is a popular spot with an exciting, up close view of the food being grilled. The grilled seafood includes Hokkaido classics such as scallops and hokke, but there are also special recommendations of the month, so be sure to check what they are. The seafood can be enjoyed not just chargrilled, but cooked a variety of different ways. This izakaya may also have unusual seafood with limited availability, such as young salmon, of which just one or two are caught for every 10,000 fall salmon; tantaka, which is so rare it is referred to as a phantom fish; and Limited Live Bafun Uni (800 JPY (excl. tax)), a species of sea urchin that can be eaten with the shell on.
Izakaya are great places to enjoy a variety of different dishes in small portions with sake. They are popular not only among business people, but also with families. Visit these izakaya to enjoy Hokkaido's outstanding food together with sake!
*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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