Overview

If there is an area in Japan that is blessed with quality food, it must surely be Hokkaido. Japan's northernmost prefecture is a region unto itself and its ocean borders and massive agricultural sector literally produces the bulk of the country's foodstuffs. Utterly fresh seafood, amazingly rich dairy produce, meats, fruits and vegetables, Hokkaido is a proper food lover's paradise. Dishes abound but here is a quick look at just some of the local foods of Hokkaido.

Kaisen-don

Surrounded by waters teeming with life, almost any seafood eaten in Hokkaido can be treated as a gift from heaven. The region's kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice, puts the rest of the country to shame. There is no competition. People actually move to Hokkaido because of it. Any seafood will do but crab and sea urchin are particularly popular toppings here.

Kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/ladyous/9038867530" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Richard, enjoy my life! / CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Kaisen-don, seafood on a bed of rice (Photo: Richard, enjoy my life! / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sapporo ramen

For many, Sapporo ramen is the number one ramen in the country. Hearty in the extreme, a bowl of soup broth made up of a pork and vegetable miso-based soup with firm noodles will usually feature a topping of corn kernels and a small cube of butter. The sweetness of the corn, the richness of the butter and the umami-imbued miso are a flavour combination that ticks all of the boxes.

Sapporo ramen (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kanesue/47984870848/in/photolist-dCbZkX-a4Ngum-2g7g1ks-2g7fNWR-2g7g77F-2b8uQQo" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Kanesue / CC BY 2.0</a>)
Sapporo ramen (Photo: Kanesue / CC BY 2.0)

Jingisukan

A favourite local dish, the meaty jingisukan is the Japanese pronunciation of Genghis Khan. Hearty and with a touch of the wild, theories abound as to why the ancient Mongolian ruler should have a dish named after him. Whatever the reason, the succulent portions of mutton grilled on a convex pan are simply out of this world.

Jingisukan, grilled mutton (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bryansjs/16720511531" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">bryan... / CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Jingisukan, grilled mutton (Photo: bryan... / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ika meshi

A favourite of ekiben train station lunch boxes, ika-meshi are a Hakodate speciality made up of gutted and cleaned squid stuffed with rice, mountain vegetables and other agricultural delights. Found all around Hokkaido, the stuffings will usually feature local ingredients sourced from the area they are sold in.

Ika meshi, stuffed squid (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/3649833361/in/photolist-2aqeNn-6ywmip-dEnyxM-7nbzab-GD5mn-5Bvbff-87B93o" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Alpha / CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Ika meshi, stuffed squid (Photo: Alpha / CC BY-SA 2.0)