This is so Hokkaido!

[2020 Edition] 5 Soup Curry Restaurants Recommended by a Sapporo Local

Hokkaido is renowned as a gourmet kingdom ruled over by seafood, ramen, and sweets. But according to some, the one dish to rule them all is soup curry. The allure of this Hokkaido dish is irresistible, pulling in people from across Japan and from overseas looking to try the dish in its birthplace. Every soup curry restaurant has its own spin on the unique soup and their own take on ingredients. The most popular restaurants are concentrated around the Odori Park and Sapporo Station areas.

So… What is soup curry?

Before we take a look at the restaurants, let’s look at the dish itself. Soup curry is a bowl of spicy broth-like curry containing a generous helping of vegetables and other tasty ingredients served with a side of rice.

Large chunks of fresh, local Hokkaido vegetables Hokkaido are the staple of a good Soup Curry, and each restaurant has its own take on the rich soup broth. It has a unique flavor that balances the savory taste of the vegetables and the strength of the spiciness, which you choose for yourself. Other common ingredients include chicken leg, stewed fish or other seafood, and various meats like hamburg and steak. If you check out the restaurants on this list, you’re sure to find the soup that suits you.

History of Soup Curry

The origin of soup curry began with a coffee shop named ‘Ajanta’ in Sapporo’s Chuo ward. In 1971, this shop blended yakuzen, food based around Chinese herbal medicine, and spicy Indian cuisine to come up with this unique item. It was an immediate hit! So much so that the shop had to limit servings to 20 bowls a day. The popularity spread to other restaurants, and eventually was dubbed “SūpuKarē” by the restaurant ‘Magic Spice’.

Customizing your toppings is part of the experience

No matter the soup curry, you can choose how spicy you want your soup, with some restaurants serving a range from level 1 all the way to level 50! Some places offer several soups to choose from and a plethora of toppings that let you craft your own personal soup. You can even add cheese!

Five local favourites

Now, with the fundamentals under your belt, let’s take a look at some restaurants.

1. Delicately crisp veggies at Soup Curry Suage+

‘Suage’ (pronounced soo-ah-geh) means “deep fried without batter.” vegetables and other solid ingredients are deep fried without the use of any batter or coating. The crispy texture of the first few bites gently leads into the soft texture of the vegetables soaked in the light broth.

Suage+ offers two kinds of broth to choose from: the normal Suage-soup, the popular staple that keeps customers coming back, or the Suage+ exclusive “ikakuro” made with squid ink.

Suage+’s main restaurant is in the Susukino district right across from the Norubesu building, famous for the neon Ferris wheel that colours the Susukino skyline. Another of their shops is down the street, and a third is at the foot of Mt. Moiwa, so you can stop in after touring around up there.

■soup curry Suage+
Inquiry: 011-233-2911
Address: 2F Tsushimatsu Bldg. Minami 4-jo Nishi 5-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo (facing south side of Norubesa)
Open: every day 11:30 – 22:30 (Last Order: 21:30)

2. Get hooked on
Okushiba Shoten’s shrimp stock

Okushiba Shoten is famous for its original shrimp stock soup curry that attracts long lineups of hungry people every day. In fact, this one restaurant serves about 50,000 meals a year!

Every morning it prepares its soup stock, utilizing 2,000 shrimps and complements it with several secret spices. A steady stream of newly converted die-hard fans declare, “Try it once and you’ll never forget it!”

In the open kitchen at the Ekimaesoseiji branch in front of Sapporo Station, the chef dramatically grills Hokkaido beef and other local ingredients on a grilling plate.

There are several Okushiba branches, each with their own particular theme. The theme of the Jikka branch inside Sapporo station is “making the Japan fun”. Okushiba Shoten now operates 5 branches around Sapporo and has opened six more outside of Sapporo.

■Okushiba Shoten, Ekimaesoseiji
Inquiries: 011-207-0266
Address: B1F Hokuren Bldg. Kita 4-jo Nishi 1-chome, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Open: every day 11:00 to 22:00 (Last order: 21:00)
URL: (smartphone only)

3. Eat like a warrior at Rojiura Curry SAMURAI

If you want to experience a real vegetable assault and a powerful flavour that is certain to overpower you, check out Soup Curry SAMURAI.

The thick soup base is made by adding Japanese-style dashi and home-made spices to a broth made from simmering chicken bones, pork bones and a ton of vegetables for two full days. The rich yet mild soup is a great start for people who haven’t tried soup curry and is loved by young and old.

The “Chicken and Full Daily Serving of Veggies” comes highly recommended, and is packed with 20 vegetables grown in local farms, or try the “Samurai Special,” a selection of popular meats and vegetables on a single plate. SAMURAI also offers a monthly curry to give you something new to look forward to every month.

■Rojiura Curry SAMURAI Sakura Branch
Inquiries: 011-272-3671
Address: 2F-3F Tiara 36, Minami 3-jo Nishi 6-chome 1-3, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Open: every day 11:00 – 15:30 (Last order 15:00), 18:00 to 23:00 (Last order: 22:00)

4. Take in the atmosphere of Asian Bar RAMAI

The strange exotic atmosphere of this large interior space is the draw for those looking for something a little bit more fashionable. Partitions separate the tables, allowing diners to enjoy a leisurely dining experience in a private room.

The unique flavour of Ramai’s chicken-based soup, with its blend of spices, gives in a particular flavour quite unlike any other soup curry. The flavour is on the mild side, so this would definitely be the time to try and go hard on the spices and order something in the higher range.

■ Asian Bar RAMAI Sapporo Chuo branch
Inquiries: 011-211-0697
Address: 1F Comfomall Sapporo, Minami 4-jo Nishi 10-chome 1005-4, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
Open: every day 11:30 to 23:00 (last order 22:00)

5. The Mother of All Soup Curry: Magic Spice

Magic Spice, often said to have ignited soup curry boom, has spanned its own avid following, a group of people that identify as “Maji-Supa-Furiku” (Magic Spice Freaks). The famous Sapporo Magic Spice exclusive dish “Hokkeido” is loaded with juicy chicken, a mountain of veggies, and topped with a boiled egg. It’s like a tour of Hokkaido crammed into a single bowl. The silky smooth soup is the result of a meticulous blend of thirty spices, inspired in part by the Balinese dish soto sayam. Magic Spice rates the spiciness of its dishes at 7 levels, starting from from “Spiritual Awakening” to “Ethereal Void”. Newcomers might do well to try “Nirvana” level of spice to gauge how much they can tolerate.

■Magic Spice
Inquiry: 011-864-8800
Address: Hongo-dori 8-chome Minami 6-2, Shiroishi-ku, Sapporo
Open: Lunch 11:00 to 15:00, Dinner 17:30 to 22:00 (Mon., Tues., Fri.), 11:00 to 22:00 (Sat. Sun., holidays, and the day before a holiday)
Closed: Wednesday and Thursdays