Here are my picks for restaurants in Sapporo. I've really not been to too many restaurants, so my opinions may not be all that accurate, since there are possibly hundreds of excellent restaurants in the city of Sapporo. But I have my favorites, so I want to tell you about them.
We'll start with ramen. We did actually go to a lot of ramen shops, and I can easily say, めん処天 (Mendokoro Sora) is the best ramen I have ever eaten, in Sapporo, in the rest of Japan, or anywhere else in the world. It's located in 東区 in the 東苗穂 area, near Lighthouse Church, for those of you in Sapporo who want to try it out.
I didn't actually photograph a bowl of ramen, since usually we were really hungry when we went there, so as soon as it came to the table, we started shoveling it down.
My favorite dish was miso ramen, for which Sapporo is famous. It comes with noodles, delicious miso broth, thin slices of roasted pork, green onions, some kind of odd red seaweed, and a deep fried hard boiled egg (I think that's my favorite part). I cannot describe the extent of its deliciousness.
Next let's talk about kind of an odd category. We'll call it tree hugger cuisine. I'm talking about vegan, locally produced, natural, organic, slow foods. I actually don't know of any other restaurants of this variety in Sapporo, although I'm sure they exist. Still, ホロ (Horo) is exceptional. The restaurant is owned and run by friends of my friend, Shino-san, so we went together. Her father was the architect for the building. Conveniently, it's located very close to Toei church, where Shino-san is a member and where we played a concert. The restaurant owners came to the concert. :)
Each day there are two different set menus; you can choose between bread set and rice set--basically you choose Japanese food or Western style food. Shino-san and Keith chose the bread set. There was delicious homemade natural sourdough bread among other things. (Note: most Japanese restaurants give you a "set meal": along with your main course dish [if there is one], you will usually get rice, Japanese pickles, miso soup, and maybe a salad or other vegetable. That way you almost always get a very healthy, balanced meal. It's great; you get to try a little bit of many things.)
I chose the rice set. Everything was completely delicious... but I think my favorite part was the expertly prepared brown rice. Mine never turns out anything like theirs! It's deceptively difficult to make it properly.
I went back a second time and had a different rice set.
Next we'll talk about my favorite sushi restaurant, 恵み乃 (Megumino). Shortly after we moved to Sapporo, we found out that one of the members of our church, Osaka-san, was a sushi chef. We love sushi, so we asked him for more information. At the end of October, we popped in for dinner... and had a delightful time eating, asking questions about fish, watching Osaka-san prepare our dinner, and generally chatting. It was great to have someone to answer our stupid questions and put up with our bad Japanese. Not to mention, the sushi was amazing. 恵み乃 is located near 北13条東 station, if you are interested.
I took my family to eat there when they came to visit. They loved it.
Here we are with the chef.
Look at all that beautiful fish. I never thought I would like shellfish, but for some reason, scallops are now one of my favorites--but I only like the ones I've gotten at this shop. We eat a different selection of fish every time we come.
Preparing to feed a mob of gaijin...
One time Osaka-san surprised us by serving us fugu! Fugu is the poisonous puffer fish that is eaten as a delicacy in Japan. It has to be properly prepared... or the consequences are most unpleasant indeed.
We also had octopus eggs that night. That was... strange.
One more beautiful selection of fish...
In Sapporo, the favorite food of university students is soup curry. This dish is inspired by curries across Asia, but Sapporo chefs have made it their own. It's a clear, spicy soup with roasted vegetables and sometimes meat, tofu, and egg. I don't have a favorite soup curry restaurant yet, but when we return, I will certainly try to find a favorite... mmmmmm... :)
I found it rather strange that a vegetable-intense soup is the favorite of students. Compare to the diet of US students: pizza, hamburgers, instant ramen, and beer? Well, Hokkaido does produce some of the most delicious vegetables in the world (in my humble opinion), so I guess it's not too surprising. I must say, this was the spiciest food I ate in the entire 9 months in Japan. I coughed and sweated. It was great!
My friend, Natsuko-san poised and ready with her cell phone camera... I think I picked up some Japanese food-photography habits. :)