If you’re planning a trip to Japan, I suggest you research on what your specific destination is famous for. Japan is into what-this-prefecture-is-great-at bit. And each prefecture is obsessed with doing it better than the rest of Japan.
It’s okonomiyaki – the Japanese pizza or pancake – for Hiroshima. Takoyaki started in Osaka, and it’s done excellently there. Kyoto is known for tofu. Steaks in Kobe. Soba in Nagano. Goya Champuru for Okinawa. Tokyo has everything but I especially like the tonkatsu at Maisen and the yakitori at Birdland.
Hokkaido has the freshest seafood, and a lot more original creations that’ll keep you warm on a winter’s day. Here are my top picks:
Uni at Uni Murakami. I was never big on uni until Sapporo. I find the uni in Manila too malansa (fishy), and it looks like Star margarine that was left out in the sun too long. But the guide books pointed us to Murakami, located in the Sapporo JR Station.
The uni was the single most heavenly thing I tried in Sapporo. I also like the crab roe that came with the uni – I can still feel the roe popping in my mouth, releasing tons of flavors.
Soup Curry. This Hokkaido invention comes with vegetables, rice, lots of herbs and spices, and meat (chicken, burger steak, pork or lamb). Most soup curry places (we had ours at Hiri Hiri at the Sapporo Factory) allow you to choose the spice level you want. I chose 2 out of 5, which was still not spicy enough. In winter, you must get at least 3.
The best part is pouring the curry sauce over steaming-hot white Japanese rice!
Yakitori at Kushidori. This is a popular Sapporo chain serving a variety of grilled stuff. It’s packed with boisterous Japanese college students. That in itself is refreshing in the land of hushed conversations. My favorite is the tenderest skewered lamb I’ve ever tried. Everything there is great with Sapporo Beer, the best beer in Japan.
The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about was the Hokkaido King Crab. Philippine crabs are still better, and perhaps it’s because of the tropical waters. The Philippine variety has better texture and that delicately sweet flavor. Lalo pang mas masarap ang mga baklang alimango natin. Hokkaido and the cold, stiffening weather could use some gayness.