Ciao Bob's 2018 Japan Trip 1/? - Hokkaido: Hakodate


#1

Just back from a fantastic 2 week trip to Japan - including Kyoto, 1 night in Osaka on a sake crawl, Tokyo, and then a week in Hokkaido (Hakodate, Sapporo and Noboribetsu).

We worked with a wonderful company called Boutique Japan https://boutiquejapan.com/ for hotels, guides, and travel arrangements. They have some awfully knowledgeable people and provide a good list of bars and restaurants.

I will slowly try to impart what info I can for the interested and /or future visitors.

Hakodate is a charming little town in Southern Hokkaido reached by a 4 hr Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo.
The city spreads out from Mt Hakodate almost like a fan connected to the mountain by a narrow isthmus - it is really unusual and beautiful. Two of the most important things to do in Hakodate are:

  1. go to the top of Mt H. at night by bus or gondola when it is working (it wasn’t when we arrived due to recent typhoons, so we bussed it) for a view like this:
  2. Visit the amazing seafood markets (very nicely described in Peter Meehan’s Bon Appetit article https://www.bonappetit.com/restaurants-travel/article/uni-ramen-hokkaido-japan that kind of inspired us - along with the Bourdain episode on Hokkaido) to spend a week there. Walking these markets is a much better experience than the Sapporo markets.

We had a wonderful grilled King Crab, as well as freshly caught (by me, from a tank) squid sashimi in the market:

We were shocked that the grielled crab was not dry at all - moist as can be.

We also had wonderful sushi at the market

Hairy Crab with crab “brain”

Some kind of Tiger Shrimp

Hokkaido Uni

Meehan had his uni nirvana at Uni Murakami, so we had to go for dinner, and it was mind blowing for completely unpreserved uni bowls and equally amazing ikura. An uni tempura with shiso leaf with uni salt was pretty damned great too. Most surprising was the incredible tomato and asparagus salad. Everything wowed us at Murakami. It is tiny so reserve as early as you can.

This map is used to show where in Hoakkai each days uni is from. Ours was from the islands shown in the North East part of the map

We also ate at an excellent seafood Izakaya called Kaiju near the Bay area. Huge tanks of fresh crab and live squid. You eat right next to some pretty active crab.

I think it might be hard to pick a bad place to eat in Hakodate. The seafood is as fresh as it gets anywhere in the world.


#2

looks like shako (mantis shrimp)

i need that uni bowl, do you remember the price?

thanks for the report.


#3

about 40 dollars for 80 grams of uni
there’s a smaller bowl of 40 grams and many uni/ikura or uni/multi-seafood bowls.


#4

Shako, indeed.
What fascinating creatures: https://www.livescience.com/42797-mantis-shrimp-sees-color.html


#5

Looking forward to the rest of the report! Going to Japan in mid-December and looking for some recs in Tokyo and surrounding Sapporo areas!


#6

I did two undergrad papers on the mantis shrimp back in the day…

A freaking cavitation weapon at their disposal, and the most advanced optical system of any animal on the planet, to boot… Truly a predator to be feared.

Delicious, too.