Showing posts with label sapporo food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sapporo food. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Sapporo Food: Tozai Russian Restaurant

In my absence from blogging I went to a whoooooooole bunch of places and took pictures intending to blog about them. I then proceeded not to blog about them. Where was the flaw in my plan? How did things go wrong? Perhaps we will never know. Perhaps we will never care. Almost certainly we will never care.

So in most cases this means that I don't feel right writing a proper account of my meal there since it was a while ago and memory is a funny thing. I do want to say something about those places though, so I'll just do some little short things.

Tozai is a Russian restaurant/bar in the basement of the haunted Norbesa building. Please note: Norbesa is not really haunted, it just feels that way sometimes. I went there a while back, but my impression was that the atmosphere wasn't all that great and the food didn't look all that amazing, but that everything we ate there was really good. I honestly don't remember what anything was called except for the piroshiki (sp?!), but I'd really like to go back there sometime and try some of this again. The slice of fish/beet tart/pie thing was especially good. Remember that I know nothing about Russian food, and it was a while ago, but I liked the place. Also the lighting was pretty dim so the photos don't really do the food justice. Anyway:

It's on the map, and it's in the basement of Norbesa which has a sodding great Ferris wheel on top so it should be easy to find.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Sapporo Food: Beans Happy Home-made Meat Pies

NO! No you did not read that wrong! A meat pie shop in Sapporo, Japan where most people take their pie cues from the USA where pies are all sweet and stuff. Sigh. For Brits and Antipodeans this is an injustice that has gone too long unchallenged.

Beans Happy is a little take-away/eat-in Pie shop that opened up very recently (read: last week) near Nishi 18 Chome station on the Tozai line of the underground. Long story short: it's pretty good. They say they do Australian-style meat pies, although I don't know if any foreigners are involved in the place, and it's not really going to satisfy you if you're after big hearty meat pies like they do back home. It's located in an area with lots of small, fancy cafes and plenty of affluent families so bear that in mind - it's not really aimed at ex-pats who miss meat pies. It was good though, and I thought that the basic meat pies (of which I had two, didn't have a chance to try anything else yet) tasted like meat pies do back in England, and what more can you ask?

They even put a dollop of tomato sauce there on the side without me asking. That shows some fine cultural understanding from my point of view. The pies aren't huge, but they're only 300 something yen each so I thought they were just fine for the money. Gravy and minced meat filling. The pasty and filling are good, nothing earth-shattering, but better than the pretty crappy pie I had when I was in Sydney recently.

I went in the second day they were open on my lunch break and they had a sign up on the door saying they'd already sold out of all the pies they'd made that morning. I stuck my head in and asked and it turned out they'd just finished a batch of the regular meat pies, so I lucked out and got two piping hot from the oven. The place was quiet when I went in, but I'm guessing it's been pretty busy at peak times, and a friend of mine had a pretty terrible experience. He actually went there the first day they opened, ordered seven pies to take out and when he got home found that they'd only given him four. And they were all completely different from those he ordered. By the time he got back to the store they'd sold out so they could only refund him, but even that was a trial (by his account) so it sounds that they're going through some teething problems while they work out some regular routine. Perhaps bear that in mind, though I'm sure they'll iron things out. They're only a week old after all!

I'll put it on my map. It's between Nishi 18 Station and Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art so it's not that hard to find. I also found this page from the company that did all their designs, which are really pretty cool.

Sapporo Food: Spicy Soup Curry Legon

First! If you check this blog sometimes then I'm sorry for the lack of posts. Explanations will be forthcoming at some point or another.

Second! Let's get back to the soup curry!

Spicy Soup Curry Legon was recommended to me by a commenter a while back and checking the place on the web I found a few favourable English language comments. However it is absolutely nowhere near where I live, so it took me forever to actually make the trip out there. It was worth it though!

Legon's soup was really nice, and pretty unique. The closest place to it that I can think of would be Gombei Spice, since they both have pretty strong, forceful curry flavours and a consistency where you can almost feel the spices on your tongue. I'd say Legon was more delicious, but then Gombei Spice isn't for everyone anyway.

I had the buta kakuni (slow cooked pork) with extra chicken meat-ball topping. Yuki had the chicken meat-ball soup, which was why I got the topping: to stop myself stealing any of hers. There's a lot more on their menu that I'd like to try too, some really nice looking chicken and a melty-cheese-egg topping that looks pretty special. I hope we can head back soon to try those too.

The kakuni was great, really soft and delicious, and the meatballs were good too. The vegetables were well cooked, which is always important for me, and overall I have no hesitation in recommending the place to anyone who happens to be in the area. Which is at the Western end of the Tozai line... so, perhaps it'd be better to say that it's worth a trip? It is, and thanks to whoever recommended the place to me! That said, it was delicious and I had a great meal, but it doesn't replace any of my favourite Soup Curry shops in my affections. Bearing in mind that I reckon the idea of a 'best' soup curry place is pretty stupid, this place would be top ten if I were inclined to making lists. Which I ain't!

I'll mark it on my map. We drove there, but it must be about ten minutes walk from Miyanosawa station at the end of the Tozai line.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Sapporo Food: Garaku Soup Curry

Garaku is another one of the more famous soup curry shops that I've been meaning to go to forever. In fact, I have actually tried to go there on a number of occasions only for there to be far too long a waiting list, or for the soup to actually have run out. The place was full while we were there and people were constantly coming and going so it's clearly a very popular place. Plenty of celebrity autograph cards on the walls too.

The place smelled great and the menu looked so good it was hard to choose. But sadly in the end Garaku was just 'good'. I wouldn't put it up there with the best soup curry I've had in Sapporo. It was, however, absolutely soup curry. I was griping about Soup Curry S being really popular while not really looking or tasting much like 99% of the soup curry shops out there. Garaku is a perfect example of soup curry, it's just that the soup is not that amazing.

What is amazing though? Everything in the soup.

I got the kakuni (slow cooked pork chunks) which I tend to get at a lot of places, and which lets me compare between places pretty well. On their menu it was marked as being the most popular dish. I got it with extra broccoli as a topping, which was great as was everything in the soup. The meat and the vegetables were all wonderful, the pork was soft and juicy and everything was cooked to perfection. The big let down for me was that the actual flavour of the soup was... just ok. It's a shame because it looked so good, but from the first spoonful to the end of the soup I wasn't really digging it. When I was eating the ingredients in the soup... oh that was great.

Yuki got a vegetable soup with a sausage topping and her opinion was exactly the same as mine. Everything was amazing except the soup. Which, I stress, wasn't bad, just wasn't great.

So I think we'll go back if the place isn't too busy, but it's another of the more famous Sapporo Soup Curry places that didn't impress me as much as I'd hoped. It's very centrally located in Odori though, which is good, and if you're in town visiting then I'm sure you'll like the place. And as always with Soup Curry, your mileage may (probably will) vary wildly so you should go check it out yourself. It's just south of Tanuki Koji and I'll mark it on my map. Oh! I just noticed that you can use google streetview to go inside the place, so check that out too.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Sapporo Food: Curry Shop 'S' (soup curry)

Soup curry again everyone!

Before we get into this let's get the disclaimers out of the way. Soup curry is a really personal thing. Different people like different places, so it's probably best for everyone to take my recommendations as places worth checking out that I really like. Not that any of that really applies this time since I'm not all that fond of S.

But S is famous, and popular with a lot of people including my girlfriend. Famous enough to have signed autograph cards on their walls from celebrities based outside of Hokkaido (there are quite a few soup curry places around with autographs from local newscasters, sports-people and members of the local TV comedy group TEAM NACS). Famous enough that in an episode of a TV show I saw, when a bunch of really famous comedians came to Hokkaido, S was the place they went to try soup curry. Hell, famous enough that in the new video game Ryuu ga Gotoku 5, apparently you can go to S in Sapporo and have soup curry. They even have a collaborative line of soups! I really want to try that game but sadly don't have the hardware... Or the cash... Oh well...

In fact, instead of posting a real photo of the outside of the place, here's how it looks (outside and inside) in the game. In tiny pictures I found on the interweb:

There's no alleyway there in real life.

He's huge!

Recently the aforementioned TEAM NACS guys made a TV drama series called Soup Curry about a group of friends living in Sapporo, that was tied together with a general soup curry/spice of life theme. They filmed in some real soup curry joints and featured one or two places over the end credits every week. S was one of the ones that showed up there and that was what spurred me into finally trying it out.

S does soup curry and also a thicker, more standard roux curry, along with some tandoori-style chicken. The place is good, and I do like it, but it's not amazing and I'm pretty mystified as to why S is one of the more famous soup curry restaurants in town. The soup is delicious, I mean, it's really, really good, but it's just so thin! I've eaten a lot of soup curry, and for S to be one of those places that folks from outside of Sapporo go to try the dish just seems weird because it's really unlike the majority of soup curry places. Maybe they're just really, really good at self-promotion.

Here's one of their standard soup curries, with their Sapporo-style ramen noodle topping (which is a really nice idea, served with the ramen spoon too, another nice touch) and - c'mon - that just looks like ramen with extra veg.

Here's a half-and-half dish they do of their soup-curry and their roux curry.

For me neither one was satisfying and I didn't really feel like I got my money's worth on the quantity side either. I didn't really like the roux curry, didn't think much of the chicken, and the soup curry was basically a side-serving.

In general I haven't been impressed with the vegetables or the meat there, and the menu is pretty limited. Jesus, looking back at this it reads like I'm basically trashing the place. I'm trying my best not to, and since I started sticking to just basic soup curry with that good noodle topping I've left pretty satisfied a couple of times. But while the soup flavour is wonderful, I find everything else about the place just 'ok'.

S's soup is really light, and that's probably one of the reasons my girlfriend really likes the place. And god knows that it's good to have a range of soup curry places to choose from. You don't always want the kind of thick, heavy flavour-fight you can get at nearby Samurai. So if you want a light, delicious, spicy soup then you should go. But I don't think I'd head back if I didn't eat so often with someone who loves the place. That said, it's certainly no hardship to eat there. That broth is really tasty.

S is really centrally located, about two minutes walk from Susukino station on Eki-mae Dori. It's south of Tanuki Koji, down in the same basement as Hendix Art Cafe, whose sign is pretty visible when you're walking down the street. I'll mark it on my map of course, and would encourage everyone to check it out. You're not kids any more! You've got to make up your own minds about these things.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Sapporo Food: Voyage Soup Curry

Ok! It's the holidays and I am finally on holiday. Therefore I should be able to find the time to post something, right? Well here is something, and this something is long overdue.

Soup curry, that glorious and uniquely Sapporo fusion of 'curry' and 'soup' is a great love of mine. That said I know a lot of really great soup curry places but I wouldn't go so far as to label any of them 'the best'. No one soup curry place is exactly like any other and subjectivity has a huge part to play, as you can see from some old comments I got saying they didn't like the place I liked, and recommending a couple of places that I really want to go to, but still haven't been able to since I neither live, nor work, anywhere near them.

The best soup curry I can remember having was at Lavi Lavi in Kita 24 Jo, but it was their monthly special and so it was gone almost as soon as I found it. After that I found Lavi Lavi to be a great place, but one day I went and it just wasn't as good for some reason, and it's never reached the heights it used to since. Oh, but the new branch in Sapporo Station's ESTA mall is a really convenient place to get a decent dish.

So soup curry shops vary wildly in quality, style and reliability, but the place that I would recommend to pretty much anybody is Voyage in Kita 24 Jo.

I'm sorry, soup calyi, my mistake.

Voyage is run by the same people that run Xysa nearby and Picante, which has a couple of locations now. All three are similar I think, but not exactly the same, and I like Voyage, possibly because I've been there much more often.

The food at voyage is great, and it seems to be consistently great. I've never had a lousy curry there, and I always leave glad that I made the trip. Their vegetables and meat are delicious and well cooked (something which seems a little hit and miss with some places) and they don't skimp on the veggies too, which is something I'm always happy to see. You can always choose a basic soup or a rich soup (the rich soup varies by day of the week too, just to keep things interesting) and both are delicious. It costs more to take your curry above spice level 2, but spice level 2 seems just perfect so I never bother. Add to this the tremendous toppings they do and while Voyage might not be the best I really find it hard to believe anyone would be disappointed to go there.

Oh look! Photos!

Crunchy herb chicken with  fried gyoza and potato dumpling with cheese toppings. That potato and cheese thing... oh my God.

Herb Lamb with... um, the same toppings.

Basic vegetable with just the gyoza topping. They also do a deluxe vegetable curry just crammed with stuff.

The menu at Voyage seems to change pretty regularly, but some things, like the crunchy herb chicken above are always there. Voyage soups are served in these unique bowls with this big raised section in the middle. You can't see them in those photos but imagine that the actual soup is in a donut shaped section, while the middle acts like a kind of table for you to cut things up on. It's interesting, and pretty useful when you get used to it. A cynical man might say it makes it look like you get more than you do, but I am not that man, and I always leave sated so I have no complaints.

I'll say it again, I'm not promising that Voyage will blow you away but in my experience it is always very, very good. I've been meaning to blog about it ever since I started this thing and it comes strongly recommended. It's a three or four minute walk from Kita 24 Jo station on the Namboku line of the subway, and I've marked it on my map.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Sapporo Food: Soup Curry Yellow

Yellow is a very cool, popular soup curry place in Odori that's been around for a long time. I wasn't all that impressed by the soup actually, but I really should go back and check it out again since there's a lot to like.

I say cool because the place has its own DJ booth and is decked out with record sleeves from Sapporo's kings of underground hip-hop Tha Blue Herb. They even have a curry named for them, which is pretty awesome. In fact, I don't really need to tell you because they have a kind of inside-the-store google view thing linked from their site! Check it out!

And they serve this local brew that I'd never heard of and that wasn't half bad.

I really want to give the place another chance because it's popular and it's been around for a while, but I didn't really dig either the soup or the vegetables that much. The giant slice of 'bacon' that I had in mine though - that was amazing.

I'm sure the place is worth checking out, but I wouldn't recommend it yet. I often say that opinions on soup curry are far more subjective than about many other foods. People often don't like places that I love and vice versa (I actually decided to write about Yellow rather than another place that a friend asked me to go to but that I thought basically sucked). If I go back and it's great then I'll update and let you all know for sure. If it's not... well I guess I'll do that too.

It's on my map! And you should probably check it out and make up your own mind since you can never have too much soup curry.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Sapporo Cafes: Musica Hall Cafe

Musica Hall Cafe is a very cool little place in Odori. They put on a lot of little indie acoustic nights there I think, and while I've never been to one of those it's a great place for coffee or lunch too.

It's on the third floor of this old building, but you should see the sign outside just fine. These snaps are from a while ago, but I've been there pretty regularly since and it never changes (except for the little art installations on the walls). They have a nice, pretty cheap daily lunch deal which can look something like this:

And they have a full menu too, which has things like this:

I like the place. The coffee's pretty good, it's not too expensive and fancy and it's nice and central. I'll put it on my map so do feel free to check it out.

Sapporo Cafes: To Ov

Ok then, let's get back into this. I warn you, I'm going to try and catch up on over a year of lethargy-induced slacking so things might get messy. Since last we spoke Sapporo remains wonderful, although this summer was pure and simple hell, dragging on and on and on... Signs are good that we might be free of it's mercilessly suffocating embrace! Merciless! Ah.

To Ov
To Ov cafe (pronounced To-On?) is a lovely little gallery/cafe near Nakajima Kouen Station on the Namboku line. There's a small gallery room in one half and a nice little cafe in the other half. Very good music while I was there, from a jazz selection to some mix that included The Beatles, Yann Tiersen and Sufjan Stevens. The place is full of art books and magazines too, which is always nice, and very stylishly decorated. And it has a bathroom almost too classy to use.

Oddly, because I was already thoroughly caffeinated, I didn't try the coffee there. But the lychee juice was great and the coconut curry I had for lunch was great.

Yuki liked her sandwich. Her opinion: too small for the price, but really delicious.

I liked the place and I'm going to try to go back sometime. It's on my map and well worth going if you're looking for a cafe in the area. I'm afraid I'm going to cut down on the addresses and contact details for now so I can post more. You can click on the link in the name above, no problem sir.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sapporo Cafes and Shops: D&D Department Project and Pippin.

I've been meaning to write about this place for so long. D&D Department Project is a fancy design goods/home wares/furniture/cafe place near Nishi 18 Chome on the Tozai line. It's pretty near one of the places I work so I've been there for lunch a few times, and it's a very cool, minimal, stylish place. For lunch, I'd say it's very nice, but a little expensive. Then again places like this are always good to have around so go take a look if you're in the area!

They actually repainted the exterior since I took this photo if you can believe it. That's how bloody long I've been meaning to do this post. The ground floor is all stylish, functional, minimal (expensive, but of course) stationery and home wares. It looks a little something like this:

No, wait. It looks exactly like that. Upstairs they sell furniture and all sorts of stylish made-in-Hokkaido goods. The cafe part is actually called Pippin, and is off to the left of the ground floor snap I took. They do a few lunch sets, all running to around a thousand yen. I got this type of thing a few times:

That was back when I took the photo of the building last year. And more recently:

An open-face sandwich thing and soup. It was very good but... yeah, I didn't really feel like I got a thousand yen worth of lunch there. Better was when I got the more standard lunch set.

Much more satisfying and also delicious. They have curry lunches as well that (unusually for me, coz I love Japanese curry) I haven't tried.

In case you don't know there's a nice Wallpaper City Guide to Sapporo that features D&D Department Project pretty prominently, along with an interview with Shin Sasaki of 3KG the design firm that runs D&D. Well worth picking that up, because I don't think think it's all that expensive and it's a nice alternative to the usual kind of guide book. No good for touristy sight-seeing, but I never care about that stuff anyway. I'd always much rather just see the city itself wherever I go.

Oh, I'll put this place on my map of course.

D&D Department Project
Odori (as in, it's on the street called Odori, North-South 0 as it were, not in the Odori area) West 17.
Open 12pm to 9pm Tuesday to Friday, 12pm to 8pm on Sundays.
Closed on Mondays.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Sapporo Cafes: Cafe Rosso

I don't really review restaurants and cafes here, I just slap up places I like so that other people know about them. That means that I go to some places that I don't think are all that great and so I don't write about them, because - hey, if you've got nothing nice to say then... y'know. I guess a couple of times I've been tempted to write something telling people to steer clear of a place, but nowhere has ever maddened me enough to actually try and harm their business. Oh! Do you know what? Scratch that. In Tokyo recently I went to Pancake Days in Harajuku, and despite us being the fourth table or so to be seated when the place opened it took them a good 20 minutes to take our order, then over an hour TO MAKE US PANCAKES. The place was busy, sure but the staff were dopey and when the pancakes FINALLY came they really weren't that impressive at all. If you're a popular pancake place in the middle of Harajuku I would think at the very least you'd have your shit together. We only went there because just looking at the line for Eggs and Things crushed my soul, but Pancake Days wasn't much better. So fuck that place.


So anyway I was on the fence about writing about Cafe Rosso because I wasn't sure I liked the place. Cons: it's expensive (around 900yen a dish for food, drinks 500yen and only a 100yen off that with the drink set) and the guy who ran the place didn't seem all that happy to see us. Which is to say he was kind of rude. Rudeness in Japan can be measured on a totally different scale to rudeness in the UK of course, and to be honest we're pretty spoiled here. He wasn't rude as such, but he wasn't exactly welcoming.

(An aside: on the way to Rosso we went past another coffee shop whose name I've forgotten, but where our waitress was even ruder than this guy. Maybe it's something to do with being near Sapporo Factory Mall.)

Pros: it's in a great old looking building and it's a really stylish place with an odd mash-up of decor. Oh and, the biggest pro - the food was fantastic and the coffee was great. So yeah, I thought, I can recommend this place.

Rosso is just around the corner from the big Sapporo Factory shopping mall (not the museum site, which is next to the Ario shopping mall). The closest stop on the subway would be Bus Center Mae, but it's not a long walk from Sapporo Station either.

The decor mash-up I mentioned above is about forty percent fishing to forty percent tattoos to twenty percent general retro styling. The counter has a massive array of fishing reels while up on the wall are some leather jackets and tattoo flash. A sign on the counter warns that the place is protected by a 'tattooed bad ass' and the dude did have a lot of tattoos. Perhaps the coolness I felt was his general demeanour - I mean, the cafe was fare more manly than most coffee shops, and I would hardly expect the proprietor of a place like this to be all smiles.

A word on the counter as well: they have a gorgeous, gorgeous wooden counter. That is all. I could've run my hand up and down that thing all day.

I got the kakuni (slow-cooked pork) curry, and it was great.

Good meat, good vegetables, great Japanese-style curry. Yuki had a tomato and eggplant pasta that was also wonderful. The sesame bread you can see at the back there was exceptional.

The coffees after were really good too, so for sheer quality I really recommend the place. Also it's a fun place to sit and look around, and if you like Japanese fishing manga he has a lot of those up on his shelves.


Cafe Rosso
札幌市中央区北3条東3丁目1番地 福山石油ビル1階
Sapporo-shi, Chuo-ku, Kita 3 Jo, Higashi 3 Chome (North 3, East 3)
Open 11am til whenever and closed on Wednesdays!

And of course, onto the map it goes.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sapporo Food: Hamburger RISA

Man, I was so glad to find out that this place had opened up again.

Hamburger RISA used to be out West on the Tozai line (and I wrote about it on this blog way back when), but it closed down a couple of years ago in order to relocate to these new premises. That sounded awesome to me, especially since the new place was near the Namboku line and therefore far more convenient (for me at least). But it took so long to reopen that I just figured something had gone awry and that it would never open its doors again. I even went down there last year to check it out only to find that it was still under construction.

But thankfully it did reopen last August. I only thought to check what was going on with the place recently though, so it came as a surprise to me that it'd been open again for a while, and I immediately wanted to check out the new place. The answer - it's bigger and nicer than the old place but with just as much character, and just as small a menu.

You can go back and read my old post from the link up there to find out a bit more about Hamburger RISA, but I suppose I should cover some key points here too. It's run by a jazz/blues guitarist who my girlfriend remembered as being somewhat grumpy, but who seemed very smiley and happy when we went the other day. The menu consists of one item - a hamburger for 700 yen; and the place is a tip. Actually the new place is nicer and less messy than the old one was, but there's still tons of random musical equipment lying around, and piles of weird looking transistors and tubes and stuff. It's great! In fact there's a full band set-up in the corner and it looks like for a while they were doing live music there every Saturday night.

This post is gonna be pretty light on photos, so to take a look go to the link at the top. That's because he actually has a sign on the wall asking people not to take photos, and I ain't gonna argue with him. I also remember talking to him at the old restaurant and him being pretty withering about students who always took pictures of their burgers before they ate them. Don't tell him I take pictures of food all the time, will you? Then again the sign on the wall, like the menus on the tables, is hand written in marker on a tatty, torn-off bit of a cardboard box. So really I could've feigned ignorance if I hadn't already known his feeling about taking snaps of your food.

If I remember correctly he lived in the States for a while and his burger is the kind of burger he couldn't find when he came back to Japan. It's a straight-up burger - 100% beef, lettuce, a big slice of tomato, onions, and home-made pickles. No cheese, but plenty of sauces to put on it if you want. I love it; it's not subtle and it's not perfect, but  it's satisfying and delicious. Plus it's the only thing on the menu.

As for drinks, I think he has an old juicer there that he uses to make delicious fresh orange juice, and the coffee is just coffee, but you can get free refills which is some kind of miracle for me.

Hamburger RISA is pretty easy to get to. It's at North 13, West 1, and the closest station would be Kita 12 Jo (EDIT! I just realised that the closest station is Kita 13 Higashi on the Toho line, but I never get the Toho line so the location of its stations is a mystery to me). It is hidden away a bit though, tucked away from the road behind another building. You should be able to see a sign, and a big rickety-looking metal arch from the road though. I'll stick it on my map of course. I really like the place, and if you like burgers or weird, eccentric looking places you should really take a look.

Hamburger RISA - North 13, West 1
Open: midday to 8pm.
Closed: Thursdays

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Sapporo Food: Soup Curry King

Soup Curry King is a popular place. It's not all that small a restaurant, but when I went in there for lunch I was lucky to get a seat, and people were arriving all the time and having to wait, or simply being turned away. And that was in the middle of a blizzard!

It looks like Soup Curry King hasn't been open all that long in the grander scheme of things (thinking geologically perhaps, it only opened in 2007) but a lot of people seem to like it. I've seen it mentioned in various places, and last year at Autumn Fest (the big foodie festival in Odori park) they had a special soup curry stand with a rotating line-up that featured King several times. That, and of course the swinging door this freezing lunchtime speaks for itself.

I got the lamb and vegetable curry, and I could taste straight away why the place is so popular.

It's a very light-looking soup, but the flavour was smooth and very satisfying. It's always tough to really nail down the differences between soup curry places in writing, but the soups really are so distinct once you've tried a few. King's soup was a little oily, but a really nice consistency - not too thick and not too thin. The spice levels are named, cutely, after a suit of cards (up through Jack, Queen, King to Joker) and I got a number 4, which the menu called your basic hot taste. 3 is recommended but I could have gone hotter than 4, and others will be able to take a lot more.

The vegetables were vegetables, nice but I've had sensational vegetables at other soup curry places so this wasn't the best. The lamb however, was sensational - so soft and juicy. You can't really see it in the picture there since it was buried under the veg, but there was plenty of it and it was great.

Soup Curry King is near Minami Hiragishi station on the Namboku line, and it's well worth a visit. It reminded me of Medicine Man, another really popular soup curry restaurant with the quality to support its reputation.

I'll mark it on my map, of course, and here's the address and opening times coz I'm nice like that:

Soup Curry King

Open for lunch 11.30am to 3pm.
Dinner is 5pm to 11pm (last order at 10.30pm).
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays it's open 11.30am to 10pm all day (last order at 9.30pm).
And it doesn't have any regular closed days.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Sapporo Food: Maruyama DRiLL

I guess I was thinking about burgers a lot recently or something because when I realised I had a couple of hours free to go somewhere interesting for lunch I remembered Maruyama DRiLL. I tried to go there a while back, but although  their schedule said they ought to have been open, they were closed. It's no big deal, that kind of thing tends to happen with small, independent places in Japan, but I never got around to going back. Today, I half expected it to be closed too, but while it was freezing bloody cold outside, it was toasty warm inside.

That's the freezing cold exterior. It was only walking up the stairs that I deciphered the logo, which I'd seen a bunch of times before: the circle = maru; the triangle is a mountain = yama; and the triangle with lines is a drill. Obviously! I didn't snap any photos of the actual cafe inside, but I really should have since it's a super-stylish place. If you head to the website, you can check out plenty of snaps, of both the bar and the lovely staff. Here instead, just imagine a stylish bar arranged around this gorgeous burger.

The menu here looks really good, and I really want to go back and try some different things. Their main things are burgers and curries, both of which look great. It also looks like they recently added pasta to the lunch menu as well. I'd like to say it was hard for me to choose, but really if a place says they do good burgers then 99% of the time that's what I'm going to get. I chose a cheeseburger, and the plate up there was 800yen (I got the orange juice lurking in the background for an extra 150yen). They've got a pretty big range of burgers, nothing too revolutionary, but they did have a ridiculous looking triple-decker for about 1800yen. Considering that this was a tall burger to start with I can't imagine how that stays upright but still. You can add extra patties as a topping too actually.

It was a good burger. The patty especially; I'm not sure if it was 100% beef but it was juicy and delicious. Again, not the best in Sapporo, but worth your time if you're a burger fan and of course a cut above your average fast-food joint. I'll definitely be going back there, and even though I'll try and be strong, try and break my mold... I'll probably just end up getting a burger again.

It's about two minutes from exit 1 of Maruyama Kouen station, and I'll mark it on my map.

maruyama DRiLL
北海道札幌市中央区北1条西27丁目1-7 2F
Lunch is from 11.30 to 4.00 (last order at 3pm)
Dinner is from 5.00 to midnight (last order at 11pm)
And now I notice that they don't have any fixed days off, hence I was disappointed the first time I went. Might be worth phoning ahead? Think on't.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sapporo Food: H's Cafe

Just starting to write about a restaurant in Sapporo that does burgers started me on an internet search for Kitchen Yonoji+Jr. which was one of my favourite places in Sapporo. What happened to that place? I think it just closed down, and I miss it, but I just found an address and I'm not sure if it's the original address or... maybe I'll check it out... Oh, it's the original address. Yup, looks like that place is gone.

Anyway, H's Cafe is a cafe/bar kinda place in Susukino that opened up in October last year, and I was pretty impressed when I went there.

On the boards outside they make their burgers sound like their big thing, and they were good, but they have a variety of other stuff on their menu too. Other stuff that I studiously ignored because when a place looks like it has good burgers, that's probably what I'm going to get.

Oh, we got onion rings too, and they were really good! And interestingly served!

It's for BANANAS!

Actually one of the great thing about H's Cafe is that everything is really very reasonable. The beer is cheap, and when I saw how cheap the burgers were on the menu (400 or 500yen) I thought that they'd be some kind of mini, bar-snack sized affair. Luckily, I was very wrong.

That's the ABC burger, (Avocado, Barbecue, Cheese) and the NBA burger (Native Big American I think it was...). The former was 400yen, the big double was 500yen. The fries came with. Man, I don't know about you, but for a decent burger at a bar in Japan that seems pretty great to me. That NBA burger is pretty damn big. Let's have a close-up of that bad boy shall we, since the patties are shrouded in shadow there...

I say thee yay! And they were good burgers! Not the best in Sapporo, but greasy and sloppy and satisfying and we left the place stuffed and a little drunk for really not much money. If you want burgers and beer in Susukino, or if you just have a hankering for 'American' decor and a giant Budweiser banner then you really ought to check it out. They have Mountain Dew, which - I've never really understood, but there you go.

H's Cafe is really near Susukino station, just over the road from the Susukino Mister Donut branch, and I have, of course, marked it on my map. Hey! Why don't I give you some address and opening times details too?

H's Cafe
〒064-0804 北海道札幌市中央区南4条西2 ホシビル1F
That's South 4, West 2, Hoshi Bld. 1F

And their opening hours are, quite awesomely:
Mon-Sat 6pm-6am
Sunday 6pm-Midnight.

Man, now I want to go eat burgers at four in the morning. Oh, who am I kidding, that'll probably happen.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Sapporo Food: Kanako no Soup Curry-ya san

Just a quick one I think. Yesterday a comment on this blog inspired me to go check out some new soup curry. I wanted to hit up one of the recommendations I've received, but ended up wandering around deserted streets looking for a shop that had closed down, and when I found it I realised that I'd tried to go there before and found it had closed down. Smart work, I'm sure you'll agree.

So in the end I went to Kanako's Soup Curry Shop, which I've walked past countless times (one of my favourite cafes is in the same building) but never eaten at.

Kanako's started here I think, and although this is their only store in Sapporo they also have a branch in Hakodate and two in Sendai. That kind of 'soup curry outreach' is highly commendable. The quicker soup curry spreads properly outside Hokkaido, the better chance I have of not having to go cold turkey when I travel. I kid. A little.

I just had their standard vegetable curry and it was nice. They use a spice-blend from Sri Lanka apparently, and the soup curry flavour was good, but I wouldn't rave about the place. The ingredients too (Hokkaido sourced) were good but not sensational. I think I probably need to try one of their recommended dishes to see the best of the place of course, but overall I'd say this place is worth going to if you want soup curry but you don't really mind not being blown away. Spice-wise they have a scale that goes to 100 and that gets spicy around 20 apparently. I had a 25 and for me that was a pretty mid-range spiciness.

Oh! Y'know what I've been meaning to start posting addresses and opening hours for these places, since that's the kind of thing might be seen to be somewhat useful right?

Kanako no Soup Curry-ya san (Kanako's Soup Curry Shop)
北海道札幌市中央区南1条西1丁目2-2  大沢ビル1F
Sapporo, Odori, South 1 West 1
Open Weekdays 11am-3pm and 5pm-9pm (9pm last order)
Open Weekends 11am-9pm (9pm last order)
...and it looks like they don't have a holiday!

It's nicely located really near the TV tower, and I've stuck it on the map. Hopefully soon I'll be able to check out one of the soup curry places that people love and that I haven't had a chance to get to!