When you think about Hakodate, the first thing that usually comes to mind is seafood. While you are not wrong, the city actually has a lot more to offer any aspiring foodie, with a unique menu that features wonky burgers, satisfying bowls of ramen and sweets you won’t find anywhere else. We start off at a place any local knows: the Hakodate-exclusive burger chain Lucky Pierrot, where you will want to try the signature “Chinese Chicken Burger”. The burger features a healthy portion of fried chicken slathered in sweet & sour sauce and topped off with mayonnaise. Next, head over to Hasegawa Store and try their “Yakitori Bento”. While Yakitori generally refers to grilled skewered chicken in Japanese, in Hakodate and the rest of Southern Hokkaido it actually refers to pork instead. Upon ordering, the pork is grilled on the spot with red wine, giving the dish a unique spin. For dessert, you can’t miss HAKODATE PASTRY SNAFFLE’S and their signature “Cheese Omelet”. Don’t let the name deceive you, however, as this is actually a rich and fluffy cheesecake that basically melts in your mouth. Overall, in this article, we will share 7 spots, all of which have won the hearts of local foodies and are easy on the wallet to boot. Try to make it to all of them when you are in town!
Ask any Hakodate native about the most recognizable local restaurant and the answer will surely be Lucky Pierrot. Generally featuring an off-beat exterior with oversized clown motives everywhere, the chain boasts a total of 17 locations throughout the city. The menu is surprisingly varied, including the signature Hamburgers but also Curry Rice, Pork Cutlet Rice Bowls, and Soft-serve. Their most famous dish remains the “Chinese Chicken Burger”, which features a healthy portion of fried chicken slathered in a combination of Chinese-style “Yu Lin Chi” sauce and mayonnaise. The quirky chain’s status was elevated in 2009 when famous Japanese business newspaper Nikkei named it the country’s best local burger.
14-17 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Ajisai is without a doubt the most famous local Ramen shop in Hakodate. Their house specialty is the “Ajisai Shio Ramen”: the dish uses a kelp-based clear soup that has a surprisingly rich flavor, which comes from the added tonkotsu (pork bone) and chicken stock. The smooth, straight noodles are a perfect match for the broth. With such a strong base to work with, it only makes sense that the toppings are held simple and include the ubiquitous Cha Siu (roast pork fillet) and a soft-boiled egg. The clean but satisfying taste makes the dish a perfect option for those late-night munchies after some drinks on the town.
29-22 Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Known by locals as the Jolly-Jelly, the American-style diner Jolly Jellyfish was established in 1982 and has been popular ever since. It is located about a 20-minute drive from Hakodate Station on the first floor of the hipster-styled mall South Cedar Drive Inn. The diner’s signature dish is without a doubt the Steak Pilaf. The buttery rice pilaf is topped with a juicy cut of Sirloin Steak, with the shop’s original sauce – featuring the famous “Trappist Butter” (butter fermented in Hokkaido) – adding the finishing touch. Naturally, the steak is cooked to order, ensuring you will have a cut of meat perfectly suited to your taste.
2-6-1, Higashiyama, Hakodate, Hokkaido
In Japan, Yakitori generally refers to grilled skewered chicken. This is turned on its head in Southern Hokkaido, where it actually refers to pork. The place to try this dish is definitely Hasegawa Store, where a bowl of rice topped with seaweed and grilled pork skewers makes up their “Yakitori Bento”. While this sounds simple at first, you will be surprised at the attention to detail with which each ingredient is prepared. For instance, the pork is prepared with red wine, the secret ingredient giving the meat its mellow but rich taste. Furthermore, you can choose the seasoning to your liking – options include classic teriyaki-style sauce, a saltier variant, miso sauce, the so-called “uma-kara” (a blend of spice and umami), and simply salt. The latter is actually what local foodies prefer, as it features a hint of garlic to round off the dish nicely.
2-14-16 Nakamichi, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Opening in 1837, Yamasa Miyahara is probably one of the older continuously operating stores in all of Hokkaido. It is located centrally in Hakodate, being just a stone’s throw away from the tram stop Jujigai. You will want to try the Tamanegi Karaage (fried onion), which features locally produced onion together with a minced fish paste including pollack and bream. The crispy texture of the batter is balanced out perfectly with the sweetness of the ingredients, making this a thoroughly enjoyable snack. You can even bring them back home for a tasty souvenir, as the store also sells sets of three vacuum packed.
2-18 Toyokawa-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
For a famous local Japanese-style sweet, try some Yokan from Gokatteya, an old confectionary shop based out of the small town of Esashi. Yokan is a thick jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar. The ingredients are generally boiled early in the morning and then kneaded over the period of one day. At Gokatteya, the traditional way of making this sweet is maintained by its veteran guard of confectioners, with the manufacturing process having undergone barely any changes since the shop was opened in 1870. Their most famous product, “Marukan Yokan”, is endowed with an old-school label to ensure that your hands do not get dirty while enjoying it.
38 Honcho, Esashi, Hiyama, Hokkaido
HAKODATE PASTRY SNAFFLE’S
Finally, for a more modern dessert, you can’t miss HAKODATE PASTRY SNAFFLE’S and their signature “Cheese Omelet”. Don’t let the name deceive you, however, as this is actually a cheesecake. Once you take a bite you will be greeted by a rich, delicious taste, with the signature fluffiness ensuring the cake basically melts in your mouth. As a fresh dairy product, it will only last about a week refrigerated – so you will want to eat it while you are in town!
13-9 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido