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Our picks: Sapporo

Over the years we have shared countless times with Cuca’s customers our favourite restaurants from every city we know. The truth is that people in search of the tastiest food from around the world seem to trust chefs’ picks when choosing food, and since everyone asks our humble opinion, we have decided to start a proper “Our Picks” section where we give you our recommendations on where and what to eat.  Go ahead, try for yourself and share these lists as you please, but just because we may help you find a new favourite, please don’t forget about your first love, Cuca!

Sapporo is food Disneyland. The entire island of Hokkaido boasts some of the world’s best seafood and in its capital city, under the watchful precision of extremely talented Japanese chefs, the ocean’s bounty is transformed into an incredible ingredient driven minimalistic style of unforgettable deliciousness. And if you have the time and still the appetite, we suggest a trip to Hakodate, the “Mecca” of seafood.

Since 1967 this place has been serving perfect okonomiyaki. We have had many versions of this traditional Japanese savoury pancake and never been a big fan, but that all changed with Fugetsu. Cooked literally on your table, their recipe is extraordinary. The wait staff will give you all the raw ingredients and the expectation is to cook it yourself which will not end well (even following the instructions on a TV screen), so our suggestion is to look like a lost puppy which will easily convince the service team to masterfully get you to what you came for.
Price: $$
What to order: Butatama Okonomiyaki

Gotsubo Oyster Bar
Starting as one of Sapporo’s best kept secrets, is no longer a secret, although it still remains brilliant. This extremely humble closet-size space sits maybe 10 people and does not accept reservations. Tables turn over fast with a simple small menu consisting of “snacks” more than a proper dinner, yet those snacks are fantastic. Oysters are the star, prepared in numerous ways, both cooked and raw.
Price: $$
What to order: anything oyster (raw, steamed, baked…)

Umi Hachikyo
Oh boy…this place is great. If we had one stand out memory of Hokkaido, this is it. A fishy entrance sets the tone for the electric team who prepare and serve unfussy outstanding dishes that reflect the soul of Hokkaido. Simple, well executed and perfect ingredients make up the meal. Reservations are hard to come by and we suggest to get your hotel to book a week or so in advance to secure your seat on this delicious ride.
Price: $$$
What to order: tsukko meshi (Salmon eggs over rice)

Aji No Karyu
Sapporo is the birthplace for Ramen in miso broth and this pilgrimage it’s a must. It is considered a sin to not devour a bowl of Ramen while visiting, and we know just the spot. There are many places more famous and trendier with queues that run around the corner, but we loved the bowl of happiness they serve here at Aji No Karyu. Nothing fancy, no gimmicks, no show…it was all flavour!
Price: $
What to order: Ramen, Gyoza

Hyousetsu No Mon
Hokkaido is a wonderland of crabs with 4 main varieties. Snow crab, Hanasaki Gani, horsehair crab, and the most sought-after and expensive King crab. This place has been serving these oceanic delicacies since 1969 and does it flawlessly. Private rooms for each guest set the stage for an unbelievable tasting style menu through a journey of delicious with each course focusing on crab in a different and unique preparation. Bookings are essential and must be done at least 1 month in advance.
Price: $$$$$
What to order: Hyousetsu-no-mon king crab full course

The soft cream house
Hokkaido is amazingly responsible for producing 50% of Japan’s milk and with its cool climate and wide pastures, these happy cows are famous for it. Hands down the best way to enjoy it: ice cream, specifically soft serve ice cream. Made within hours of milking these magical cows, it is smooth, fresh, creamy and mildly sweet, with an incredible distinct flavour of real milk. You can find soft ice cream all over Hokkaido but this place stands out for the ice cream’s texture and their handmade cones that disappear under gentle pressure… incredible.
Price: $
What to order: #1 Plain milk soft ice cream

Bar Owl & Rooster
In a very plain building, hidden on the upper floors, tucked around the corner and sitting last on the left, sits a brilliant cocktail bar. Difficult to find but well worth the effort, this place delivers meticulously crafted cocktails with personality. The small, relaxed candlelit room has a great vibe with excellent music and a well-dressed proper bartender.
Price: $$
What to order: Tell the bartender what you love and get them to craft a bespoke wonder.

Hakodate Bonus

Hakodate Uni Murakami
This place takes sea urchin way to seriously and we love that they do. These sweet orange custard-like morsels that are shaped like the fillets of baby mandarin oranges are masterfully prepared here in a variety of different dishes you will never try anywhere else.
Price: $$$
What to order: Nama Uni Donburi (sea urchin over rice)

Hakodate Sushi Restaurant Kihara
Go ahead and picture the perfect Japan experience of devouring delicately handmade mouthfuls of sushi in front of a master who has dedicated his entire life perfecting the world of fish and rice… Well, this is it. A 12 seat counter in front of 2 sushi samurais and the adventure of delicious uncertainty begins.
Price: $$$$$
What to order: full menu, say yes to everything!

Lucky Pierrot (various outlets)
Step back to the year 1987 as you enter the delicious world of this Japanese-inspired classic American diner where time has stood still, and nothing has changed for the past 37 years. This fast-food joint that uses the best local ingredients has multiple locations in Hakodate but has never expanded outside its small town (and never wanted to) as it would compromise its superb quality.
Price: $
What to order: Chinese Chicken Burger