The Hokkaido Food Guide 2015 – Experiencing the Best Local Produce in the Region!
December 13, 2015
When you hear people mention Hokkaido, you might think of delicious, locally produced food. That is exactly the kind of reputation Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau want to create for Hokkaido. With ideal farming conditions, produce world-class beef, seafood, fruit and vegetables, Hokkaido is becoming a famous food destination.
Under Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau is using agritourism (agriculture + tourism) to entice overseas travellers to visit the region, with the long term goal of adding value to local produce.
They have realized that people have become more interested in how their food is produced. They want to meet farmers and processors and talk with them about what goes into food production. So they are trying to connect producers with consumers and restaurant in the region, so they can “tell the story” of the local product.
Now, it’s time to pack your bag and get ready your stomach for the food to come!
Milk Kobo (高橋牧場ニセコミルク工 房)
Address: Yubinbango 048-1522 Hokkaido Abuta-gun Niseko-cho Soga 888-1 (〒048-1522 北海道虻田郡ニセコ町曽我888-1)
Latitude: 42.836571 | Longitute: 140.675598
Tel: +81 136-44-3734
Opening Hours: Summer 9:30am to 6pm, Winter 9:30am to 5:30pm
Takahashi Dairy Farm, owner of Milk Kobo, treats its cows much in the same way the Kobe Beef farmers treat theirs, with respect and care. Cows are milked by-hand, raised on the highest quality natural feed and drink the pure, crystal clear water from nearby Mount Yotei. The result is a series of delicious, fresh and sweet treats made from the milk these cows produce.
Takahashi Dairy Farm, owner of Milk Kobo (ミルク工房), treats its cows with tender loving care. The 80 hectares of farm raise 300 cows on the highest quality natural feed and drink the pure, crystal clear water from nearby Mount Yotei. The result is a range of fresh and sweet treats made from the milk. Their custard cream puff (¥150), is the best I have ever tasted. The pastry itself is light and crispy, only accentuated by the vanilla custard which is made of milk fresh from the cow that day only. Trust me, you would want a second piece after finishing your first. They also sell roll cakes, cheese cakes and ice cream. Unfortunately, we went close to their closing hours. If you were to go in the afternoon, you can sit outside on the picnic tables and enjoy their milk treats while admiring the beautiful grassland and cow grazing.
Address: Yubinbango 048-1522 Hokkaido Abuta-gun Niseko-cho Soga 888-1 (〒048-1522 北海道虻田郡ニセコ町曽我888-1)
Latitude: 42.836571 | Longitude: 140.675598
Tel: +81 136-55-8852
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm; 5.30pm to 9.30pm. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
On the same premise as Milk Kobo is Prativo, which serves value-for-money semi-buffet lunch and dinner menu against the expansive views of Mt Yotei. The menu makes extensive use of fresh milk from Takahashi Farm and vegetables that are grown around the district. Vegetable buffet & Main dishes cost ¥1,550 per person. For your main you can choose from 4 different mains, such as steamed chicken breast with dijon mustard, sauteed Raibow trout, egg plant & mozzarella cheese pasta with tomato sauce, or tuna & Cabbage pasta, with olive oil and black pepper.
Makkari Flower Center (真狩フラワーセンター)
Latitude: 42.762321 | Longitude: 140.807705
Tel: +81 136-48-2007
Opening hours; 10am to 5pm (April to October); 10am to 3pm (January to April)
Do you know, Hokkaido produces over 98% of Japan’s lily bulbs, most of which get sent south to Kyoto where they are used in classical Japanese cuisine. Amongst it, half of the lily bulb is made in the village of Makkari. It takes about 6 years to grow lily bulb. A visit to the Tamura Farm lets us to a better understanding on how the crop is cultivated, cleaned and distributed. Mr Toyokazu Tamura is the fifth generation in a family business that has been running for more than 100 years.
Fresh lily bulbs are creamy white, and look like slightly-flattened heads of garlic. They have a delicate, mildly sweet flavor, and are crunchy when raw and silky-creamy when cooked. You can slurp up a bowl of buckwheat noodles with lily bulb tempura or have it with rice at Michi-no-Eki (Makkari Flower Center) roadside station – a rest stop for travellers. This small eatery we went to is run by a group of obasans. A piping hot bowl of buckwheat noodle soup with lily bulb tempura is perfect for the cold weather. On our table, all you can hear is slurping sound.
Oh by the way, the roadside stations in Hokkaido is amazing. There are 117 of such and they are equipped with clean toilets, which include breastfeeding rooms, and ample car park spaces and facilities such as food stalls, souvenir shops and even playgrounds.
Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery (ニッカウヰスキー余市蒸留所)
Address: Hokkaido Yoichigun Yoichimachi Kurokawacho 7-6 Japan (〒046-0003黒川町7-6)
Latitude: 43.187369 | Longitude: 140.791780
Phone : +81 135 23 3131
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm
Nikka Whisky, one of Japan’s top whisky makers, has its main distillery in Yoichi, the neighboring town of Otaru. The company was founded by Taketsuru Masataka, known as the father of Japanese whisky, who studied whisky making techniques for several years in Scotland before bringing the trade to Japan. He was instrumental in establishing the country’s first whisky distillery, the Yamazaki Distillery near Kyoto, before he set out on his own to start Nikka Whisky here in Hokkaido.
The Yoichi Distillery was built in 1934, on a site chosen for its clear water, brisk air and rich peat. Taketsuru believed that the conditions in Yoichi best resembled those found in Scotland and would be perfect for recreating Scotch whisky. The traditional distillation process that he brought over is largely unchanged today. Nikka whiskies have been recognized to rank among the world’s best single malt whiskies have won numerous awards. Take a guided tour to understand the whisky making process from start to finish.
Denpachi (でん八 札幌駅道庁前店)
Address: MAINICHI KAIKAN 1F, Kita 4 Nishi 6, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, 060-0004060-0004 (北海道札幌市中央区北4条西6 毎日会館1F)
Latitude: 43.065415 | Longitude: 141.347203
Opening Hours: Weekdays 11.30am to 2pm; 5pm to 12am Weekends & Holiday 5pm to 11pm
Tel: +81 11-200-6782
Just 5-minute walk from Sapporo Subway Station, Denpachi serves one of the best sashimi in Sapporo. The assorted sashimi on a boat is so fresh. My favourite is the grilled pork neck. Cooked over charcoal of the right temperature until smoky, the pork neck has just the right amount of a nice balance of lean meat and tender juicy fats.
Because the weather is cold, we are having hot pot as well. What happens after the hot pot is more memorable – we make our own porridge by pouring in rice, egg and some sake into the broth. What we get is a deep and intense porridge.
Address: Yubinbango061-1270 Kitahiroshima Omagari 377-1 (〒061-1270 北海道北広島市大曲377-1)
Latitude: 42.978981 | Longitude: 141.491708
Tel: +81 11-377-8700 or +81 11-377-8886 (make reservation for restaurant)
Opening hours: Lunch 11.30am to 3.30pm
In the Southern part of Sapporo city, there is a spacious farmland called くるるの杜 (Kururu no Mori) which allows people to experience farming and cooking using agricultural produce from Hokkaido.
You can spend half a day here learning how to cook, have lunch and do some grocery shopping. Trust me, it is NOT easy to make mochi. I was so inspired to be a mochi expert, but it’s too much work! Got to grind the beans, and pound the rice till you get the sticky texture of a mochi.
After our mochi class in the farmland, we headed to their famous farmer’s restaurant which offers a buffet spread of home-cooked meal using vegetables, meats and dairy products produced in Hokkaido. For 1,500 yen, there were salads, side dishes, pastas, rices, soups, desserts, and you can taste the freshness within each dish. I was told the queue to enter was 1 hour!
North Farm Stock
Address: Yubinbango068-0833, Hokkaido Iwamizawa Shimon cho 292-4 (〒068-0833 北海道岩見沢市志文町292-4)
Latitude: 43.161389 | Longitude: 141.758869
Tel: +81 126-35-5251
Opening Hours: 10am to 6pm
“NORTH FARM STOCK” is a brand that produces and sells unique foods made from delicious Hokkaido ingredients. They have more than 100 items available, including juices, jams, sauces, pickles, pasta and pasta sauce, dip, and much more. They have recently opened a cafe which looks so pinterest friendly. We spent alot of time shopping and also tried their pancakes!
Address: Chuo-ku Sapporo Hokkaido (北海道 札幌市中央区 北2条西3丁目 敷島ビル B1F)
Latitude: 43.063834 | Longitude: 141.352279
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11.30am to 2pm; Mon-Sat 4.30pm to 23:15pm
When you feel like nibbling on skewers of grilled chicken, you don’t go to the city; you head for your local. Never mind about smoky hair, we are at this quiet neighbourhood to have yakitori. Intimate but not cramped, the grill sits theatrically in the entrance of Fukuyoshi, perfuming the eatery with smoky aroma. Using charcoal, expect all the usual cuts of chicken grilled to juicy perfection. And we even ate chicken sashimi. ? It costs 4,000 yen with unlimited beer. Highly recommended if you are doing self-drive in Hokkaido!
Address: 1 Shinmachi, Ishikari, Hokkaido Prefecture 061-3373 (北海道 石狩市 新町 1)
Latitude: 43.248801, Longitude: 141.355364
Tel: +81 133-62-3011
Opening hours: 11am to 9pm
Ishikari Subprefecture (石狩振興局) is a subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan, located in the western part of the island. Ishikari’s history and culture have been fostered by salmon fishery. In the early Meiji era, millions of salmon were caught in the Ishikari River.
130-year-old Kindaitei is the creator of Ishikari hot pot. This salmon specialty restaurant located in the city of Ishikari, 40-minutes from central Sapporo by car. Both the salmon from autumn and the masu trout (a type of fish in the same salmon family) served from spring to autumn are caught locally in Ishikari and prepared into course meals for you to enjoy, using the salmon-filled traditional recipes preserved since the restaurant’s founding.
Ishikari-nabe is a Hokkaido regional specialty and Kindaitei was named the best by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in 2007. The soup is flavoured by white miso in kelp bouillabaisse, chrysanthemum, bamboo shoots and salmon. Tofu, konnyaku, leek and onion are added to give the sweetness. Other famous dishes you can taste include the traditional Ainu dish of frozen salmon sashimi called “rui-be,” and mefun (salted and fermented salmon kidney), which pairs well with Japanese sake. Reservation is needed. The restaurant is located right next to Ishikari Asobeach, so you can enjoy a walk after your meal.
With this group shot, I conclude my Hokkaido trip. Hokkaido has always been somewhere I long to revisit after my last trip there in 2011. I am thankful to come back again to visit some of the new destinations and explore the possible self-drive routes. Of course, it’s also the company that matters. My hosts and new friends are spontaneous enough to take such fun shots in the middle of the road! Thank you Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau for the opportunity and Nippon Travel for planning the trip. See you soon, Japan!
For fans from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, you can now deliver Hokkaido souvenirs including foods such as fresh fruit, seafood, or sweats from the shop you purchased directly to your home in your country. Then you can free yourself from heavy and big baggage in the rest days of your journey. Visit http://fresh-hokkaido.com/sg/ for more information.
Everywhere you drive in Hokkaido, there is always an attractive route. If you are sick of daily traffic jams and too many traffic lights in cities, you will enjoy nice cruising in Hokkaido. For customized food trips in Hokkaido, please visit Jet About or Country Holidays.