04 November 2013

Summer in Sapporo Part Two - Depachika feasts, Otaru and tofu skins

Our main inspiration to head north in Japan was the food. Different food. Seafood. Dairy. Potatoes. We found a big small town that turned our ideas about Japanese food upside down.

We love how you can see the mountains from the centre of town in Sapporo. The city is flat and really walkable. There's a semi built up business centre but around the edges there are a lot of examples of older buildings still hanging on in the inner city.

We have to give this ye olde ice cream shop a go. The big plastic ice cream cones out the front are a giveaway.

The ye olde icecream shop is full of laid back charm, it's hip without being hipster. There's quite a few groovy places like this around town.

They have a collection of penguins in the shop. Because it's an ice cream shop. Because penguins are cute.

Soft serve with a scoop of green tea or strawberry gelato on top. The soft serve tastes of cream whereas back home it would taste of vanilla. It's awesome.

Wish we had time for this...

The town is so easy to walk around, the simple numbering system for streets and a North, South, East or West guide is helpful too. There's a small fish market a short walk away from our hotel in Susukino.

Fresh seafood goodies line the footpath. The Nijo market is tiny compared to Tokyo, but without all the business that might distract you or bump you away from really being able to see the produce.

Crab is huge. They are big and they are everywhere.

You can buy just one or a few of different seafood items from the market and they will prepare them for you while you wait. There's small tables around that you can just stand up at and enjoy your picks.

Tops uncle shucking our oysters.

Fresh oysters on footpath, very happy.

One way to save some money and enjoy a grab bag of goodies is to forage at the major food halls. We found this fresh crab sushi from the depachika. The crab is cooked rather than raw, it's fresh, sweet and wonderful. This serve was about $8.

Tonkatsu sandwich, we've got addicted to these pork schnitzel sandwiches.Next to it are deep fried morsels of bread, like bread chips.

Box of sashimi on rice from a depachika. About $8. This would cost and arm, a leg and half a testicle back home.

Another box of sashimi on rice from a depachika. About $8.

One of the touristy things to do in Sapporo in Summer is to get out on the train and head towards the seaside.

Otaru is an easy side trip to make from Sapporo, only an hour or so on the train.There's a bunch of ye olde seaside commercial buildings on a canal and bus loads of tourists taking photos of themselves in front of it. The town is a little more ramshackle and has a bit more character than Sapporo. It reminds us a lot of Fremantle, lots of old boat sheds and docks and it's own brewery.

Want to buy a street food business? Jamaican jerk chicken was their fare, for sale on the main street of Sapporo.

One of our holiday joys is picking random suburbs and just walking around and exploring food, backstreets and doing a spot of people watching. Kotoni, one of the larger suburban centres along the trainline toward Otaru was just perfect for this.

Egg sandwich fried in a light crunchy coating of panko. Delicious. The Donguri Bakery on the main street of Kotoni was doing a roaring trade in baked goodies and made a good place to stop for an iced coffee refuel. We walked all the way back to our hotel from here, at least a couple of hours of aimless wandering suburban joy.

This must be the poshest place we've been to in Japan. Up on the 8th floor of the Daimaru department store is a restaurant that specialises in tofu. A tofu degustation, in fact.

Side dishes. Tofu salad, rice with tofu, miso soup, tofu skins and even a glass of soy milk.

A tofu nabe (hot pot), hot soy milk cooking more tofu, noodles, mushrooms and greens.

The drawcase was the DIY tofu skins.Soy milk is poured into this flat metal tray\bowl. There's a hotplate underneath.

Wait a few minutes until a layer of skin forms on top.

Pluck the skin up...

And dunk..  Each of the dozen of so tofu skins took a few minutes to cook, it was a relaxing way to eat.

We made a little video of the process so you could share in the patient art of waiting for each one to cook:

We start to walk out of the dinner thinking it is over, but there's more! Green tea tofu dessert to finish.

Yubadokoro Kitanofuan Daimaru is a rewarding experience. Don't expect to be out of there quickly, it's a slow and steady pace that gives itself up a little by little.

Our last meal in Sapporo was at the aiport. Normally an airport is the last place you would expect to find anything decent, but this newish food court sets New Chitose at Sapporo apart.

The food court is the cleanest airport eating area ever. There are choices of tonkatsu, ramen, udon noodles, Freshness Burger, more noodles, Korean and an ice cream shop. Self wiping of tables is encouraged with piles of neatly folded chux wipes, with clean and used buckets to store or throw them afterwards.

We are suckers for some udon noodles and get a couple of bowls to tide us over until we reach Tokyo.

Noodles with beef 390 yen and with tamago 290 yen. Deep fried sides only 110 yen each.

There's everything you could possibly want at this airport, including flattened Hello Kitty squid.

More squid kitty.

Crabs on ice ready to packed up in eskies and transported home. There's a huge food hall that showcases Hokkaido goodness, jam packed with fresh producers of corn and potato, huge rounds of cheese and cheesecake, tasting of puddings and demonstrations of dried seaweed being scraped thin and fresh and ready to sample.

Sashimi bar inside one of the gift stores. Standing room only, unless you are older then you can take your time and even have a beer.

Make sure you enjoy all the airport has to offer before you go through to the departure lounge. All you can get once through the check in are a few vending machines and one small takeaway at the ANA departures gate with basic coffee and food.

The Royle Chocolate Factory is the first time we've seen a working confectioners in an airport. Don't miss the chocolate covered potato chips for some plane snacks far from plain.

We flew Jetstar Japan to and from Narita International Airport. The flight was cheaper than the train (about AUS$160 return) and only took a few hours.

We love Japan.


  1. I always do an internal happy jig when your Japan posts come up in my subscriptions feed :) I think in some part your posts have influenced me to bite the bullet and head to Japan myself too. I'll be there in two weeks and I cant wait to have my own depachika eating adventures too. Thanks guys :)

    1. Oh, so jealous even though we've just been. It will be cold, pack your woollies! So glad you've decided to go, get into everything you possibly can and enjoy!

  2. Wait. Deep Fried Egg Sambo...that sounds pretty good. Sad that there are no cat photos though....hint hint

    1. We hardly met any cats this trip, it was really disappointing. I couldn't get Shawn to go to the Rabbit Cafe either, we just ran out of time!

  3. I am like Alyssa..super excited when I see that you posted a new travel post! I especially love your Japan travels (I have been there twice and absolutely loved it) but I will now go back over all your Thailand posts since we will be there in December, wooohooo! We spend a couple of days in Penang too..frow what I read a paradise for street food lovers? Have you been there?

    1. So glad you love these, we sometimes wonder if anyone loves looking at our photos of Japanese backstreets. We are off to Penang in April next year (fingers crossed) to devour food for a week, surely a food paradise. Last time we went it was Ramadan and we really missed out, so back for a bigger eating adventure this time.

  4. I love all of your travel posts so don't ever stop writing them please!! =)
    They always make me & my husband want to follow your adventures!

  5. This post makes me so excited about travelling to Japan next year! We're planning on visiting Sapporo and Otaru as well so it's good to know what's out there.


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).