It’s the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and recognised for its annual snow festival, shrines and historical sites. It is also home to some of Japan’s best culinary creations. Here’s where to go for some of Sapporo’s most buzz-worthy bites.
1. Soft cream
As the largest producer of dairy in the country, it’s not surprising that rich and creamy milk ice cream abounds in Hokkaido. In Sapporo, soft serve or “soft cream” is legendary and top-quality varieties in flavours such as matcha, lavender and strawberry are served in waffle cones or as parfaits, drizzled with delicious toppings and even spiked with alcohol in ice cream parlours, department stores and even convenience stores all over the city.
This much-loved bivalve is more commonly associated with Japan’s western prefectures, but there’s a consistently fresh supply to be found in seafood-rich Sapporo. Here, oysters with a touch of lemon or ponzu sauce are typically slurped down raw or grilled. In the bustling Susukino district, keep your eyes peeled for Gotsubo, a roadside 10-seater that serves some of the city’s largest and cheapest oysters and bottles of icy-cold beer.
3. Miso ramen
Different regional variations of this iconic Japanese noodle soup can be found around the country, but Sapporo ramen is known for its rich, umami-heavy, roasted miso broth, perfectly chewy noodles and tender pork. One of the best ramen shops in the city, the eight-seater Teshikaga Ramen in the famous Sapporo Ramen Yokocho or ramen alley serves its miso ramen with tasty shikimi (clams).
4. Soup Curry
Inspired by the district’s ramen-making history, soup curry is a relatively new dish many believe was invented by a cafe in Sapporo during the 1970s. The thin, curry-flavoured broth contains a chicken leg and a variety of non-battered, deep-fried vegetables such as eggplant, okra and carrots. Served piping hot, it also comes with a bowl of rice on the side. Sit down to a bowl at Nishitondendori Soup Curry Honpo (13 Chome-4-5 Minami 8 Jonishi), which offers eight fiery spice levels for the adventurous diner.
Home to the country’s most famous – and coldest – fishing waters, Hokkaido draws in visitors just with its seafood, from sea urchins to swordfish to scallops. Perhaps most prized, though, is the region’s kani (crab); the Sea of Okhotsk’s plankton-rich water is said to be a magnet for the crustacean. On sushi and sashimi menus around the island, you’ll find the delicate, sweet flesh of kegani (hairy crab), hanasaki-kani (a summer crab famed for its roe), the winter zuwai-gani (snow crab), and much more.
6. Sapporo Beer
If you’re going to savour Japanese beer, then where better to do so than in its birthplace? First brewed in Sapporo by Seibei Nakagawa in 1876, this beer is one of Japan’s oldest. Swing by the Sapporo Beer Garden in Genghis Khan Hall to pair your pints with a plethora of food choices. Or discover the brew’s complete history at the Sapporo Beer Museum next door before indulging in tasting flights.
7. The ‘Genghis Khan’
One of Sapporo’s most popular specialities, jingisukan is a Japanese mutton barbecue; sometimes lamb is used as well. Named after Mongol warlord Genghis Khan, the meat is grilled over a dome-shaped skillet that resembles the helmet of a Mongolian soldier, which fighters used to cook in. The queues at Jingisukan Daruma 4・4 Nikaitei (4 Chome-12 Minami 4 Jonishi) are long – and you’ll probably smell like barbecued meat long afterwards – but diners will tell you it’s all worth it.
8. Haskap Berries
The blue honeysuckle plant, which usually grows in cold Northern Hemisphere climates, is one of Sapporo’s native offerings. Its tart/sweet and juicy fruit – known locally as the haskap berry and higher in antioxidants than blueberries – derives its name from the language of the prefecture’s native Ainu tribespeople. While you can pick the fresh berries, you’ll also find haskap jams, wines, gummy candies and tea in department and food stores around the town.
Singapore Airlines is operating seasonal flights to Sapporo from December 2019 to January 2020. To book a flight, visit singaporeair.com