A stone’s throw away from Hakodate morning market
is this squid ink icecream café. Right smack infront of it is a pop up
grill. Freshly torched scallops were sold and I must say, watching the
whole process was interesting. The owner would
whack the poor shell fella groggy before cooking it over the fire till
the shells split open, with a steady snip of a scissors the intestines
were gotten rid off and with another squirt of flavouring it was left to
bubble on the grill.
Wait, I got carried away with it.
Here's the shop!
Crispy wafer cones.
The café sells a variety of other flavours but
squid ink was the main attraction. The aftertaste is all of milky,
creamy and then squid ink. Light enough to go unnoticed but obvious
enough to recognize it’s squid ink. For novelty’s sake
Rise and shine for morning market expedition! I
love wet markets in Japan because they hardly smell and look like one.
Real near the touristy Motomachi district! We realise that's where all the night action is and it comes at a painful pricetag of a 30 minute walk in plunging temperatures.
Nowhere near the dirty and smelly wet markets that we have locally. These actually smell good!
As touristy as it is, we spotted a Singaporean tour group there as well.
Loads of activity going on in the market even
without a famous tuna auction – squid fishing, haggling and hustling
for tourist business and we still managed to find a non descript decent
looking Japanese restaurant on the second floor.
I say figures speak
louder than words – 500 Yen for a seafood don,
At the doors which we hovered on quite a while.
It was a sparsely furnished restaurant with waitresses who barely understood English yet we still got our orders right.
Fresh, fresh, fresh. I cannot reiterate how the
tastebuds have been spoilt rotten with the amazing food I have been
partaking the whole trip. Having fishy food served up is cardinal sin
and down to the rice grains, it is nothing short of
The shade of salmon seems darker here, possibly a case of deep sea and shallow water salmon?
Sashimi platter of the day's catch. It has become staple so much so that upon return, nothing would come close in terms of freshness.
Braised octopus for an appetizer.
The cheapest and largest portion of protein available. The chewy squid is hardly rubbery!
I wanted to buy a snow crab to get it cooked the
next day but no luck with that. They usually go for 8000 Yen and 1000
for cooking, until the next time I suppose!
The lady was probably trying to flail her arms to prevent me from snapping a shot of a squid ink pau. Squid ink's all the rage in the market ranging from squid ink cuttlefish to paus and well, someone should just have squid ink udon or soba?
That could have been my breakfast and set me back by JPY 8000.
Tons of dried seafood for snacking.
So full of roe! I'm only thinking about my sky rocketing cholesterol levels.
Bright red salmon.
That ended the brief foray into the morning market and off we headed for more adventures!
Winter is dreadful not just because of the snow but
because shops close so early, dinner becomes a chore. Finding a decent
place at pocket friendly prices is a task, especially so in a sleepy
town like Hakodate. There was shabu shabu going
at 4000 Yen per pax but ramen at 600 Yen was a friendlier option.
Godsent find in winter, else risk going to bed hungry!
Usual ramen suspects.
Prepping for the hungry folks.
That's the chef with a funky hairdo.
Drawn by the crab claw and sea urchin ramen
picture, we made it our dining location for the day.
The alkaline taste
was too strong to ignore, somehow causing the dish to lose quite a few
points in the taste department. Cooked sea urchin
loses its amazing texture and taste as well. I choose not to label this
terrible yet I am not a fan of this.
Also available with soup broth and char siew.
Extra topping of cha siew, these were fatty!
Gyozas are a must with ramen, as with peanuts and
beer. Thin skin wrapping around a lean meat stuffing, somehow these
Generous topping of roe, looking at it brings a huge smile!
Passion the ramen chefs have about their job,
watching them busy themselves or even neatly fold gyozas is a point of
reflection. When was the last time I was this passionate about my job?
Hakodate is a 3 hour train ride from Sapporo and it is a quiet town or so we discovered. The view when the sky is bright is pretty awesome as with the night view but in winter, most shops close so early! Shopping is way limited and I'm talking about fashion generations back - ok, not so bad but it is dated.
An idea of how dark it gets by 6pm in December. Even fast food restaurants close early! We were lucky enough to grab an early dinner on one of the days there.
Hakodate’s answer to fastfood. Strange or not, I
hardly saw any MOS burger joints throughout the trip and Lucky Pierrot
is exclusive to Hakodate. Ask any Hakodate citizen and they gladly
pointed us in the right direction of this fast food
For a lack of a good word, the restaurant looked
clownish with a touch of carnival. I was looking forward to my first
whale burger – the largest mammal in water. The online folks are
probably outdated but their famous whale burger has since
been removed, replacing it is a menu that looks rather ordinary save
for their megaweights which are limited in quantities of twenty daily.
Merchandise for diehards.
These came in a mug (not for takeaway) and a dollop of mayo. Ordinary fried fries.
Burgers came wrapped and taped - just like MOS Burger. I'm beginning to think this is the Japanese way.
Chinese Chicken Burger (JPY 350)
Major surprise that a Chinese burger could be tops
in their menu replacing whale burger. The sweet sticky sauce made this
burger distinct but I was not a fan.
Lucky Cheese Burger (JPY 390)
I was hardly happy after eating the burger, the
beef patty lacked flavour and was mostly mushy. I figure the sauces need
some getting used to as I found it a mismatch with the burger. If
anything, their sesame encrusted burger buns are
Hakodate Mountain Burger (JPY 1100)
A burger that is likely to appear at most eating
competitons with three layers worth of ingredients. Only for the hungry
with an appetite to match! While the companion did not say much, he
wiped it out – too hungry methinks.
An average fastfood joint with top notch service.
In their halting English they maintained their service levels even
taking back wrong orders with no questions asked. Two thumbs up Lucky
Pierrot! Smoking is allowed on premise which made
it somewhat annoying.
It was a random visit to Stellar Place basement and
we chanced upon this eatery that was decently filled and Japanese. The
point about every other cuisine apart from Singaporean is that most of
the restaurants overseas are of the cuisine
of the country and the Japanese still patronize the Japanese eateries
more fervently than the other cuisines.
I liken napkins wrapped in plastic old school.
Toasted Salmon Poached Egg Ceasar Salad (JPY 700)
Salad with japanese dressing somehow tastes different - less calories and double the flavour!
Poached egg done well, we all loved this salad.
Mochi Style Potato Balls with Camembert (JPY 500)
Fried till golden brown, these cheese nuggets were actually cream cheese wrapped in mochi. Deliciouos much but it would have been better with mozzarella.
Kebab Set (JPY 1000)
Always game for skewers, I possibly did not have the luck with bad yakitori. All were well grilled, smokey and delicious!
Hokkaido Beef Steak (JPY 1200, 150 Grams)
Steak for the carnivore, there could be something about Japanese beef that makes it all different. Somewhat more fatty, more melt in the mouth, more delicious.
To end off in true chinese style, hot pot! The fish soup was hearty and perfect for winter!
Affordable japanese fare despite its stellar location.
This is the confectionery version of a theme park,
like Disney Tokyo is a must visit. Okay, I am exaggerating but Shiroi
Koibito Biscuits are world famous – it’s almost the same as going to a
Bengawan Solo factory (if they had one, locally).
Directions are clear and easy to follow from the Miyanosawa Station.
Friendly counter staff.
Cute pawprints to show the way.
There are few parts to the factory – mainly three storeys worth
including a must visit restaurant. I found the factory visit interesting
– their famous cookies are still very labour intensive.
I cannot imagine having to stare at them all day long to see which is
out of line or overbaked.
There are weddings held at the park, fairy tale like I say!
There are regular showtimes of
energized-super-happy tunes being broadcasted and animals popping in and
out of towers – a weebit too childish for me.
The only cafe to rest our feet!
Spy the Shiroi Koibito Baseball sports field.
Rows of dessert to pick from!
Pretty napkins too.
Tea is not complete without gorgeous tea sets.
Hot white chocolate
This was a sickening kind of sweet towards the end
of the mug - I wonder how much sugar went into it but I ended up with a
headache from all that sugar.
Hot milk chocolate
These were also sweet and available in cans for purchase.
Orange liquer to negate the sweetness.
Hot bitter chocolate
Possibly the best of the trio with the bitter aftertaste, the sweetness was not as cloying as the rest.
Cappucino for the chichi.
White chocolate cake with icecream
The overhype of the famous cookie probably spilled
over to their desserts. Soft sponge with the familiar sweetness that
punches every dessert they churn out. The soft serve icecream was
surprisingly pleasant and not too sweet! That became
an instant favourite from the visit.
Strawberry sauce to go with the dessert I guess.
Loving the festive touches to the stairway.
The doors to crazed souvenir shopping where the fullest range of their offerings are found here.
A walk in a snowy park?
Beautiful lights that makes winter uber romantic.
Winter ain't complete without a snowman.
A tip or two about picking up souvenirs from their
tempting mart, the same items are also available at supermarts and even
the airport. However, being the tourist that I was, I still chose to lug
them back in the snow – the cute bag jacket
that they place over the paper bags so the purchases will not get wet
in the snow (so thoughtful!). The park is not a must visit but a good to
go if you have extra time on your hands.
A buttery yet light financier! Once again too sweet but would be perfect with a cup of black coffee.
Chocolate Pieces (Winter Edition)
Trust them to fully capitalize on winter and these are wrapped in shimmery paper! Perfect for christmas.
Doubles of each flavour.
Flavours clearly labelled - definitely meant for tourists.
Milk Chocolate with Caramel
It is quinessentially a wafer biscuit with filling and coated with chocolate. Caramel was actually outshone by the chocolate.
Dark Chocolate with Blueberry
Dark chocolate somehow fared better than milk, less sweet and complemented blueberry better.
White Chocolate with Marron
The white fared better with maroon. They specialise in chocolate biscuits and this expertise is tasted in the white - smooth and mildly sweet. Great as a tea time snack!