Eating my way around Hokkaido continues with another round of meals. It’s a review of things eaten within my fourth and last week in Sapporo.
Genghis Khan BBQ (Jingisukan)
After our onsen day trip up at Jozankei, we had returned to Sapporo and hopped off the bus in Susukino in search of dinner. We had wandered for quite a bit looking for food when we stumbled upon a place serving Genghis Khan BBQ, or jingisukan, as it is known in Japanese. It’s basically mutton grilled on a large convex dome grill along with other veggies and meat. Mutton, though, is the primary ingredient in the set up.
I wish I could tell you where this restaurant is in Susukino, but my memories are foggy on the location. After wandering for an hour on an empty stomach, I was just happy to find a place. However, there are plenty of these jingisukan restaurants around Sapporo.
We must have arrived early for dinner. The restaurant was pretty empty all around us except for a couple of other tables. About halfway through our meal, a couple of large parties arrived and the place started to buzz.
Even though the main ingredient of jingisukan is mutton, there was actually way more vegetables in the ingredients that the restaurant provided us. There was some corn for us to roast directly on the grill. In terms of oiling up the grill, the restaurant literally provided a little block of animal fat. We slathered that little block of fat all around the domed grill until it was burnt to a crisp. Then we threw the meat on to grill one strip at a time. When it came to the vegetables, we threw the lot in at one time. I’m not sure if that was the right way to do it, though.
The meal also called for a bottle of beer. I got this bottle of Yebisu Premium Black. Having spent 3 weeks in and around Sapporo, I already had my fill of the lighter Sapporo Beer. It was time to try something different. So I opted for this slightly darker “black” beer from Yebisu. It was not super dark and heavy like a stout, but tasted more like an ale-lager mix. It was darker than the regular fare of Japanese beers, but don’t expect craft beer dark.
Conveyor Belt Sushi
Sushi is readily available back home in Vancouver. So we didn’t prioritize sushi on our eating ventures. However, we needed to try it at least once. We had gone shopping at Stellar Place, one of the giant shopping complexes connected to the JR Sapporo Station, quite a few times and noticed that there was one place on the 6th floor with a huge line up for sushi all the time. We figured that this must be a good place if the line up is long.
So one evening, we decided to take the plunge and checked in our names with the hostess at Sushi Hanamaru. We knew it would take a while. We went shopping for about 30 minutes instead of waiting in line. By the time we got back, they called our name. Great timing.
The conveyor belt wrapped around a cooking area in the middle of the restaurant and would circulate into the kitchen in the back. On one side were people who sat at the counter and faced the cooks and servers in the middle. On the other side of the conveyor belt ring were tables that still had access to the food on the belt, but sat facing each other at the table.
We got food two different ways. The main way was to just grab a dish off the conveyor belt circulating about the restaurant. The colour of the dish determined the price of that dish. A little colour chart was just below the belt for handy reference. So if one wanted just cheap stuff, one would pick the cheap colour plates. The other way to get food was to order it specifically off the menu. The menu had the same colour coding as the plates. So if you wanted something in particular that had not come out on the belt, then one would order straight from the menu.
On one side of us, there was a gaijin – possibly an American – eating his meal. He ordered everything off the menu and in Japanese. He had a bit of an accent, but he communicated very well with the staff. He definitely spoke better Japanese than I did. On the other side of us, there was a young Japanese man who ordered 10 of the same dish. He must really like whatever he ordered.
In addition to the sushi, we had a few grill orders like squid and mochi prepared by the cooking staff in the middle of the conveyor belt ring. We finished off our meal with a little red bean and mochi dessert. I was pretty full after all that sushi already, but had a little room for dessert. At the end of the meal, the server tallied up the different coloured dishes and wrote down the damage on a bill for us to pay on the way out.
Everyone should try conveyor belt sushi in or outside Japan. The only thing left for me to try in the conveyor belt sushi world is the “bullet train sushi” experience 🙂
Monjayaki is a type Japanese pan-fried batter with a whole bunch of ingredients thrown in. It makes me think of okonomiyaki, which is the almost the same thing, but is more solid and pancake-like. Monjayaki remains liquidy and is meant to be scooped directly off the grill with tiny little spatulae provided by the establishment.
We found a monjayaki restaurant, Fugetsu, literally in the bowels of the JR Sapporo Station in the shopping complex known as Paseo West. We had to snake through the hallways to find this restaurant hidden among the other Paseo dining choices.
The monjayaki stays on the large flat grill and stays hot. One has to scoop out little portions onto one’s own plate. It’s a bit on the slimy and liquidy side. Some people may not like this texture, but I think it’s worth trying anything once. On it’s own, the monjayaki was a little bland. There were sauces provided that one could drizzle on top of the food. We also ordered a different monjayaki with fried egg covering it. This dish was a little more solid than the basic monjayaki. However, if I had a choice, I’d probably still go for the more solid okonomiyaki over monjayaki.