Friday, November 18, 2011

Izakaya Dining Through Time In Sapporo

13th August, 2010 - One of the fun times we have whenever we go back to Sapporo is when catch up with my wife's best friend, T2-chan. We always try to find somewhere a little different to go. Of course, Sapporo's well known in Japan for having some of the tastiest food... comes from the beautiful farm lands, and wonderful seafood. So dining out in Sapporo's always pretty good. This night we certainly found an interesting new izakaya to eat at - good food, but so much more into the bargain.

Cultural note: izakaya are a Japanese equivalent of a pub, where people go to eat, drink and be merry. It's often associated with the purchase of lots of small tapas style dishes that are shared around amongst the group. They can often be quite raucous affairs, but there's a growing trend for more upmarket izakaya as well for smaller groups and dates.

First thing - off to Suskino. Sapporo's night-time entertainment heart. And if you're a young adventurous guy, this is also the seedy part of the city. At least at night (during the day it's unrecognisable). As for me... No longer young - and was I ever adventurous? Still, there's plenty to do here - and eating's one of those things. 

Head to the Hikaru Building - the one with great big Sapporo beer STAR sign, and find an elevator to the 8th floor.

The place we were visiting is called : "Yume ya kyou koi shizuku"... a bit of a mouthful and is hard to translate into English... one translation might be the Falling Dreams of Kyoto Koi Restaurant. Even my wife doesn't know exactly the best way to translate. This is part izakaya, part historical wonderland... as you leave the elevator, and are greeted by a torii walkway, you know you're in for an interesting dining experience.

Inside there's a range of different dining rooms, each leading off a nice open space, with it's own faux bridge... of course. We selected one of the booths.... my stomach had already been alerted by my eyes that it was time to get ready. Juices started flowing.

It may not be quite an authentic edo-era izakaya... but you can at least feel like your definitely in Japan. Even if it's a post-card version.

The menu is very Japanese, and a combination of some more exotic dishes, and some classic izakaya fare. And the good thing is that they cater for English speakers as well. I wouldn't say that this is a tourist-specific place however - so you don't need to worry about hammy-ninja's flying out from holes above your head. It's targetted more as a date-spot than a tourist trap.

Here's just a few of the dishes we selected... yaki-mentaiko (grilled spicy tarako)... tarako is salted roe or fish eggs. This was for me the stand-out surprise for the night... it was really delicious. There was a hint of citrus/lime in the accompanying relish. Really complimented the dish.

We also went some old favourites - chicken was the theme... and whilst the teryaki-style chicken would be familiar... but perhaps people would be much less familiar with nankotsu. My wife calls it "chicken bones"... which may not sound overly appealing, but it's not really bones at all. It's actually chicken cartilage. Ok about now you might be thinking that doesn't sound that appealing either. But this is deep-fried nankotsu karaage, and it's my must-have dish whenever I visit an izakaya. If you haven't had the pleasure, ask for it next time you can. I just wish I could buy it here in Adelaide.

Another dish that we love, that my wife introduced me to, is gyutan or beef tongue. Ten years ago I would never have eaten beef tongue. I was quite a sensitive young man.... ?;-)  Now whilst we love gyutan a lot, I have to say this was the one dish that disappointed during the evening. Really too thick, and there's one thing about eating tongue, if you eat a big chunk it's pretty well like you might expect it to be. Chewy. Apart from the thickness of the cut, the taste was nice. Zannen! What a shame.

For something a little lighter, we tried some tempura vegetables as well.

And  yaki-soba, or grilled soba noodles. A balanced meal.

So we had a great evening... though this was just the start of the night out. My wife T-chan and I always enjoy our evening escapes into Sapporo when we get the chance. And this is where my lovely wife makes a cameo performance... her hair isn't quite as camera-shy as the rest of her!

And this izakaya was a good evening out. Food wise it definitely wasn't the best we've had, but for an overall experience (something different) it more than met our hopes. If you're a tourist in Sapporo, and you'd like to visit a more stylised izakaya then I'd definitely recommend this one. 

Prices weren't excessive, with dishes costing around 300-700yen typically... so a night out for a group of three might come up to 3-4,000 yen per person (if you don't drink much that is). Still, you get to enjoy the ambience of the place for free...

Sapporo Central South West 3-1-1 4 3, Hikaru Bldg, 8F
Tel: 011-522-1650
Opening hours: 5pm to 11:30pm

View Sapporo Map in a larger map

We'd love to hear any dining experiences you've had in Sapporo... so drop us a line, or leave a comment!

This is my submission for the November's Japingu J-Festa Theme... it's been a little longer than expected between contributions! Enjoy the other contributions when it goes live, and check out some of the older themes.


  1. Looks like an interesting place especially with the torii walkway.

    Love Japanese izakaya where you can sample a wide range of different snack food at good prices and wash it all down with some nama beer.

    In Australia, izakaya have been a big hit the last few years especially here in Melbourne.

    Japan Australia

  2. I'm a big fan of izakaya eating... though this is a more themed one (as a lot of the izakaya are turning into).

    I think it's a good thing about the izakaya in Melbourne, though I have to say, the ones that I've seen are not especially good value (something that's a hallmark in Japan). I know a couple of them seem to push for set menus... which to me is sort of against the fun of izakaya, where you get a group of friends together to pick a range of different foods.

    What's your favourite in Melbourne?

  3. Katya and I go to Izakayas once in a while.

    I have been to Hokkaido only a couple of times, but every food was good in Hokkaido. I still remembered a bowl of miso ramen I had in Susukino. It was simple bu t very delicious.

    Katya has not been there. We would like to go to Hokkaido once together.

  4. T-chan and I love to visit izakaya... but perhaps this is due mostly that there are none in Adelaide (unlike in Melbourne).

    The food's very nice in Hokkaido - and I get the impression that I have sort of taken it for granted just how yummy and easy it is to get (and relatively cheap). I'd definitely recommend you and Katya going up there for a holiday (a skiing holiday perhaps?)

  5. my very first mean in Japan was at a Izakaya in Yokohama. A treat from my pals to celebrate my arrival in Japan.

  6. Hi Jamaipanese - it's a good introduction to Japanese food. Lots of selection from typical to more obscure dishes. Something for everyone... and of course, there's the beer.

  7. hey ben, thanks for joining in on the j-festa! i went to this funky little izakaya once that was completely surrounded by an aquarium filled with jelly fish. after a few beers the movement of the jellyfish became quite mesmerising.