If you go to Hokkaido, something you absolutely must try is the ikura-don, a rice bowl topped with plenty of ikura (salmon roe). The flavors change depending on the restaurant you go to as well. Here are 5 Hokkaido restaurants with superb ikura-don that you should try!
1. Umi Hachikyo Main Branch
This restaurant is one minute away from Susukino Station in Sapporo's main business district. The wall is decorated with a fisherman's flag that indicates a big haul, called a "tairyobata," and it's a restaurant that is very particular about using Hokkaido ingredients. Their famous Tsukkomeshi (1,990 JPY (incl. tax)) is served right in front of you by pouring plenty of ikura on top of the rice along with their "oisa, oisa" call. It goes without saying that it's delicious, but also the over-the-top performance is another reason it's so popular. They continue to pour soy sauce-pickled ikura into the bowl until the customer says stop! If you leave any, you'll be fined, so be aware! There are counter seats surrounded by the warmth of wood, as well as table seats, horigotatsu seats set into the floor, and private rooms, so you can spend a leisurely time here.
2. Kaisen Robata Sanchi Chokuso Hokkaido
This restaurant is a minute away from JR Sapporo Station. You can enjoy fresh seafood here in any situation, because there are counter seats where you can watch the chefs prepare food right in front of your eyes, or choose a 2-person couple seat or a half-private horigotatsu seat. The Namarakoboshi Ikura-don (1,980 JPY (excl. tax)) is famous for their hearty portion of ikura. As the name implies ("namara" means "very" in Hokkaido dialect while "koboshi" means "to spill over"), the ikura overflows from the bowl luxuriously so you'll be able to enjoy it to your heart's content. (Limited to 1 per group)
3. Umihe Tokeidaimae Branch
This restaurant is very close to the popular spot in Sapporo, the Clock Tower, and it's just a 3 minute walk from Odori Station. It's a seafood izakaya (Japanese gastropub) where you can enjoy seasonal seafood. The entire restaurant is made up of private rooms with horigotatsu seats and tatami areas, so you can spend a leisurely time enjoying the fresh seafood brought in every morning. The Goukai Ikura-don (1,990 JPY (excl. tax)) with plenty of ikura on top is so delicious that you'll eat every last morsel even after you've had some liquor. The Uni Ikura-don (2,290 JPY (excl. tax)) which lets you luxuriously enjoy ikura and sea urchin is also popular.
4. Donburi Chaya Sapporo Nijo Ichiba Branch
This seafood specialty restaurant is inside Nijo Market, a particularly historical market in Sapporo, a city of multiple markets. The restaurant used to be a fish shop, so the quality of the ingredients is guaranteed. You can fully enjoy a variety of fresh seafood rice bowls as you enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the market. The Tokusei Ikura-don (1,980 JPY (incl tax)) uses plenty of ikura pickled in their special sauce for a delicious meal. They also have the Marusen-don (3,480 JPY (incl. tax)) which is a set of 4 small seafood bowls and crab miso soup called Teppojiru or the Ebizukushi-don (2,280 JPY (incl. tax)), which comes with 4 botan shrimp and 6 northern shrimp on top. This restaurant is irresistible for seafood rice bowl lovers!
※Photo is of the Marusen-don
5. Kikuyo Shokudo Asaichi Main Branch
This restaurant is definitely some place you should stop by if you come to Hakodate. It's just a minute away from JR Hakodate Station, and is a famous restaurant that opened in 1956. They are very particular about their rice, which is steamed in a rare, special steamer over charcoal fire so it's fluffy, sweet, and sticky. Eating fresh seafood on top of that rice just once will make you grow addicted to it. Most of the dishes include mini-rice bowls. The popular ikura-don (1,480 JPY (excl. tax)) and the Ganso Hakodate Tomoe-don (1,680 JPY (excl. tax)) which is topped full of sea urchin, ikura, and scallops, is a delicious luxury that you can only have in Hakodate.
You can really only have such luxurious ikura-don in Hokkaido. Please find the ikura-don meant 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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