Friday, 29 July 2011

Sapporo Food: Raw Food Cafe LOHAS

So there I was, heading back into town after work and making the stupid decision to walk, in the sun, in the summer. I haven't been blogging much this year, but my hatred of the summer remains unabated. Damn you, Summer. Damn you to the hell that shares your searing heat.

Anyway I was thinking 'burger', that a burger would be good, but when I got to Treasures in West Odori it was gone! They're refitting the place now, and I don't know if it'll be Treasures part 2 or something else entirely, but whatever - it wasn't open for burgers that day.

But as I kept walking I went past a place I tried to go to a long time ago, only to find that it only opens at lunch time: Raw Food Cafe LOHAS:

That's the big ol' arch of the building, and if you go up those stairs here's the cafe itself.

From burger to the healthiest of healthy foods. I don't know exactly what LOHAS' philosophy is, but it looks vegan and when I ordered Raw Veg & Avocado rice bowl, that was exactly what I got. It was healthy and delicious, with brown rice and a little side dish for soy and wasabi (I was advised to dip the avocado into that, like sushi, since the avocado didn't have a very strong flavour).

From the place itself and this website, it looks like LOHAS is something of a 'raw foods', vegan and organic hub. I found a link for it on this Japanese Vegetarian and Macrobiotic food navigation site. And in other news, there's a Japanese Vegetarian and Macrobiotic food navigation site! Who knew?! How great is that?

Anyway, LOHAS is only open from 11am to 3pm, which makes it annoying to get to for a lot of people, but apparently you can arrange for them to open for you in the evening if you have enough people. The food was healthy and great, and there was some kind of nut maki-sushi that sounds so odd I really want to try it. It's just at the end of Tanuki Koji, and pretty easy to find, but do check my map out.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sapporo Food: Sandal Diner

Sandal Diner is a small, cozy little restaurant in Kita 24 Jo. I don't think it's spectacular, but the menu is varied (carrying everything from burgers and curry to sushi, pizza and a terrifyingly large selection of onigiri) and everything I've had there has been good, and mighty satisfying. Also, and this would be the key point for me, it stays open pretty late.

I work evenings sometimes, and my girlfriend works evenings all the time, and recently we've both been frightfully reluctant to actually cook anything so we're eating out more than is healthy. But eating out late, while more possible in Japan than I reckon it is in England, is still kinda hit and miss depending on where you are. I mean, wherever you are, you can ALWAYS eat ramen late at night, and probably yakitori too, but for more choice you're often left pretty bereft of options. So sometimes I want a half decent burger, and Jacksonville in Kita 24 Jo, which I love, closes at 9 and so thank God for Sandal Diner.

That's the mexican salsa burger, with avocado, and I believe some kind of locomoco lurking in the background there. An esteemed colleague of mine from the states was once left not all that impressed by Sandal Diner's burgers when we went there, but beef-pork mix (I have no idea if it is or isn't) or not I'm getting to really like them. This thing might look monstrous:

but it was pretty bloody delicious. Also the potatoes, which come in that chunky wedge-type variety were way better than I expected. I've had badly cooked potato wedge-chips so many times that I didn't have high hopes, but they were great too. I haven't tried the pizza, which I'm always curious about due to the crimes against pizza that I've witnessed in Japan. So I can't vouch for that. The other food I've had there hasn't been flashy, but it has been tasty and satisfying and it has Ebisu beer on tap and a nice, relaxed, warm atmosphere. Oh, pretty terrible Nashville country music, but it makes a change at least.

Oh, I found another picture. Same burger last time I went, and that looks like sausage curry to me. Yeah

It's a good place and you should check it out, especially if you live in Kita 24 Jo and haven't been there yet. It's in the little car-park area around the back of one of the tall buildings on the main street - you have to walk around the block to get there basically. Confusing directions, I know, but that's why I have the map. So have a look at that why don't you.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


There was a horrendous disaster in March, and an ongoing situation with the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, and unsurprisingly these things have had a massive effect on tourism in Japan. In that no-one wants to come here anymore. And, to be frank, it seems to me more and more that the government have the efficacy of a plywood baseball bad when it comes to confronting this problem. Not least because no-one believes them anymore.

Sad emoticon.

Still, from what I can tell people fearing radiation damage a ways away from the Fukushima plant are over-reacting somewhat. Lady Gaga did her bit, assuring everyone that Japan is safe to come to and as beautiful and awesome as always, and now, impressively the Sapporo City tourism people are doing their bit too with this website:

A design that actually looks quite nice? English and Chinese full functionality? Holy balls, I think I just dropped the crab-leg I was gnawing on! It's a nice website, and what with the updating radiation chart, it's as clear as it can be that Hokkaido is free of carginogens and mutagens and I'm really very impressed with it. Good show Sapporo council.

And Google are doing their bit too, with in-depth street-view things for big Japanese tourist attractions (the cynic in me would say - well if their panoramic shots are that good people might not actually bother with the trip, but that's just silly). They've done a whole bunch of Sapporo things that you can see here:

Google's Sapporo Galleries

I like it, but with the best will in the world Maruyama Zoo is not all that impressive. I mean, it's not even the most impressive zoo in Hokkaido - so many people stay in Sapporo and take the train to Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa (a couple of hours away) that they have a themed train with special animal seat-covers. But still it's the thought that counts.

Anyway, come to Sapporo because we're not radioactive and the summer is bearable, as opposed to the rest of Japan.

That is all.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sapporo Food: Orion Kanazawa-Style Curry

First, I'd like to say that I'm losing count of the number of cafes and restaurants that I'm finding because of my iPhone. Apple, you have your problems, and your iTunes for Windows software is still like new-strain incurable gonorrhea on my computer, but the crazy world of apps you have begotten has something going for it.

On Sunday we went up a mountain, and on the way down used the iPhone to find first a cafe, for coffee, and then this place:

It is Orion and it is apparently the only Kanazawa-style curry restaurant in Hokkaido. Kanazawa curry? What's Kanazawa curry I hear you ask? It's the way they eat curry in Kanazawa city in Ishikawa-ken of course, which is like this:

Now, if you are familiar with basic Japanese-style curry, you may be looking at that and thinking... well... that doesn't look all that different from any other curry. But you are WRONG. SO WRONG. And here is a bullet-pointed list why you are so wrong:

Allow me to roughly translate these points, which set Kanazawa style curry apart from the dross they serve in the rest of the country:

- Served in a stainless steel dish
- Served with shredded cabbage
- You can't see the rice (my note: because it's hidden under the curry, not because it's invisible)
- Fork
- The topping (i.e. the meat) is served on top of the curry (as opposed to the other way round)
- The katsu (cutlet) has Worcester sauce on it
- The curry is thicker and richer.

And then to the right of that is the stuff which I thought really defined the difference between Kanazawa curry and regular Japanese curry, which is that you mix the cabbage in with the curry and more importantly that you add mayonnaise to the curry and mix that in too. Now that's an interesting (if in terms of Japanese cuisine, not unusual) variation - adding mayo to your curry. But the bullet points seemed to be, really, trying too hard. I'm sure many purists would disagree, but when you're emphasising the serving-ware, the cutlery, and the layering order of the food, you're kind of reaching.

And to be honest in the end the curry wasn't all that different from other Japanese curries. It was like curry+ or curry with a twist. What it also was though, was delicious and that's the most important thing! It was rich and thick, the tonkatsu was crisp and good, the Worcester sauce was only a little thing, but it added to it too, and I could dig the mayo concept. It was a satisfying, hearty meal and I'd recommend it to any fan of Japanese curry. You're also encouraged to add as many toppings as you feel like to the curry, and the place has a whole other half-a-menu devoted to potato noodles and pasta if that's what you feel like.

I'm a huge fan of B-gourmet (simple, cheap food done really well) and I'd say that this place is something like that. I dug it and I'd recommend it to anyone in the area. Oh, coz it's in Fushimi, pretty far out towards the mountains in the South-West of Sapporo. Car or streetcar would be the best way to get there. Check it out on the map here.