Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 3 - Day 4. Further North to Sapporo

The Typhoon had well and truly passed now and we woke up to beautiful blue skies. As we headed out on to the streets we noticed Hakodate was looking much more lively today. With our luggage stored at the hotel we made our way towards the Waterfront area for breakfast. Lucky Pierrot was established in 1987 and is exclusive to Hakodate. I don't usually eat burger and chips for breakfast but we were only here for a few more hours so this was going to be my only chance of eating here. 

When we arrived the place was full so we had to wait for a table, this gave us time to check out the interior. There was plenty to look at here including this vintage payphone and a pair of wooden carousel horses. 

Ring the bell and make a wish.

A couple of the tables at the front had swing chairs, this table only became free after we'd finished our meal though so we sat at a standard table.

The menu features a selection of burgers and curries, all reasonably priced.

Place your order at the counter and take a seat on the bench opposite, when there's a free table the staff will direct you to it.

A Chinese chicken burger meal cost just ¥650 (£4.35)

The Chinese chicken burger is their best seller, it contains delicious juicy fried chicken with a hint of ginger, drizzled with a sweet and slightly spicy sauce. It's served in a soft sesame seed bun with salad and mayo.

I was thinking root beer when my meal deal drink arrived. It turned out to be cold tea though, with some sugar syrup added it was however quite refreshing.

As far as the burgers here go my wife couldn't find anything vegan friendly. She had to settle with a side salad and portion of fries.

It was an interesting experience mainly because of how Lucky Pierrot looks inside. On the table we noticed that Lucky Pierrot branches had started popping up all over Hakodate.

A few moments after leaving we spotted another Lucky Pierrot further up the street.

The Waterfront area is lined with large red warehouses, these contain shopping outlets, restaurants and bars.

Adam Shrimpton recommended on my Facebook page that I checked out the excellent Hakodate Beer and the Hakodate Beer Hall. He also mentioned the special version of Sapporo beer only sold in Hokkaido. My wife and I were well up for tracking these down so we headed to Hakodate Beer Hall. It opened at midday and we were the first customers through the door.

We certainly seemed to be in the right place.

We were spoilt for choice but decided to try the Hakodate beer Adam was recommending.

Adam's advice was much appreciated, Hakodate beer was really creamy and a joy to drink!

Hakodate Beer hall also served food but having recently eaten at Lucky Pierrot we decided to buy some food later for our train journey to Sapporo.

The Waterfront area and docks of Hakodate are well worth exploring if you get the chance. The area has a nice laid back feel to it and the large warehouses and wide streets make it feel really open and spacious.

We popped a Hakodate caramel in our mouths and went to see what you can buy in Waterfront warehouses.

A new hat perhaps?

Squid was on sale everywhere here and served in many different ways.

Look at the detail on these cakes!

We'd seen enough here and decided to make our way back to the hotel to collect our suitcases. My wife managed to find some heart shaped sun glasses and I'd bought some squid crisps.

On the way back to the hotel we passed through Hakodate's famous morning market. It was nearly 1pm though and many places were starting to close for the day. 

If you're looking for fish then the morning market is certainly the place to go.

Seafood makes me slightly nervous about food poisoning after a bad experience earlier this year in Spain so I resisted the urge to try anything. That said though I'm sure I would have been fine had I tried some of the fresh fish or seafood.

Since March 2016 the new Hokkaido Shinkansen line has been in operation. This is celebrated throughout Hakodate and must have had a big impact on visitor numbers. It took us just under 5 hours to travel between Tokyo and Hakodate.

We really could have done with more time here as we really only just scratched the surface of this fascinating city. Sapporo was calling us though so we went in search of some food to eat on the journey.

My wife stocked up in 7 Eleven whilst I went in search of Ekiben.

The Ekiben selection here looked good so I bought one before boarding the train.

With the Shinkansen extension to Sapporo not due to open until 2031 we had to get there using the Super Hokuto Limited Express which would take about four hours.

Adam's other beer recommendation was Sapporo Classic. I love the original Sapporo but this was even nicer with a far creamier texture. I was going to have to make the most of this over the next few days as it was only available in Hokkaido.

I'd regretted not trying some squid from the morning market so in a last ditch attempt bought a squid ekiben at the station. 

The squid was coated in a delicious light soy sauce and served with ginger and nori seaweed wrapped rice balls. 

These were the squid crisps I'd bought earlier, perfect with a can of Sapporo Classic.

My wife bought some vegetable fritter snacks, fresh tomatoes and a beer. We'd noticed in the morning market earlier that fruit and veg in Japan seems to be quite expensive. The small punnet of tomatoes cost ¥400 (£2.70) and we'd also spotted single oranges costing around ¥300 (£2)

A biscuit my wife bought, I don't recall how it tasted though. 
Oh well, can't remember every detail I guess!

About halfway through our journey the train stopped for about twenty minutes and an announcement was made over the speaker in Japanese. Oblivious to what was going on we waited patiently but a young couple a few rows away from where we were sitting were keen to put us in the picture. They came over and showed us their phone screen where they had translated the announcement into English for us, "The train in front has broken down causing a delay, but we should be on our way again soon" it said. This kind of thoughtfulness and kindness is something we have experienced many times when we visit Japan, it's also one of the many things that keeps drawing us back here again. 

Before long the train started moving again and it was to be the last of any delays we would experience during our time here. Every train we caught after this was precisely on time which is nearly always the case in Japan. In Sapporo the heavens had opened so we caught the subway to our next hotel. APA Hotel Sapporo was to be our home for the next two nights. A two night stay in a double room here cost us ¥14600 (£98)

Most of the double rooms we booked came with a 3/4 size bed and ensuite bathroom. APA hotels always include slippers and a kimono to wear, origami cranes are left on top of the bed. Vending machines selling reasonably priced drinks can be found on some floors and you never feel hassled by cleaners as they only seem to enter when you're out of the room.

Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan and the annual Yuki Matsuri (Sapporo Snow Festival) held in February draws in over two million tourists from around the world. It was late September though and poring down with rain so with our faithful and well made Japanese umbrellas in hand we went in search of food.

During Chapter 2 we discovered an incredible Izakuya chain called Hanbey. As soon as we saw one in Sapporo we just had to go inside, we'd been talking about eating here again for a long time. 

Inside we were taking right back to the Showa period and surrounded by retro kitsch memorabilia and 1950's posters. The music in the background further adds to the experience which creates a fun but relaxing environment to dine in.

Masks hang from the walls and 1950's shows are played on vintage TV sets.

Many hidden rooms can be found if you look hard enough but you only generally get to sit in these if you're in a large group.

We were given a seat beside the kitchen where you could watch everything being cooked.

I've covered this before in Chapter 2 but a quick recap. The cover charge here is well worth it as you can fill up on cabbage and the most delicious sweet miso sauce.

You will soon get through the sweet miso sauce but if you finish the cabbage just ask for more. We ordered some plum wine on the rocks to accompany our starter.

Beer here cost just ¥375 (£2.50) and it tastes great. Also if you want to smoke then feel free to as there's an ashtray on every table. I vape so I figured that was ok too and it was nice to not have to go outside. I guess this could be bad news for non smokers though as smoking inside does seem kind of strange after it's been banned so long in the UK.

The first thing to arrive was lost in translation but we got them on the house anyway, some fries. 

This was what I was after, the fried chicken. Seriously good and a real bargain at just ¥250 (£1.60)

My wife ordered some deep fried tofu served with seaweed and spring onion.

Next to arrive was fried aubergine served on skewers.

My wife ordered some flour pancakes, I overhead it as flower pancakes though and had visions of pretty edible flowers arriving wrapped in pancakes. What arrived looked and tasted quite bland but it was ok dipped in the sauce of the mixed vegetables she'd ordered.

An Okonomiyaki here cost just ¥200 (£1.35), bargain!

We ended the night with a Sally the Witch cocktail.

The rain had finally stopped so we explored the bright lights of Sapporo before returning back to the hotel.

We were given these tiny savoury snacks as we left Hanbey. We nibbled on them as we planned what to do the following day.

Click here for Day 5
Retro Space Saka Hall


  1. Hmm, a lot of newsagent/burger bar food, fried stuff, snacks. We've seen this stuff on previous Japanese adventures. Unfair to suggest more authenticity/variation would be welcome? European adventures better at the moment.