One unusual thing that I and my colleagues did in our most recent trip to Japan is that we decided to stay in a minimally advertised destination in Hokkaido. Instead of staying in a more popular Sapporo or Furano, we decided to stay for 2 nights in a remote place called Asahikawa.
And since there are limited tourist spots to go to (aside from going to a mall and a zoo), I and my colleagues decided to explore Asahikawa through its food. Our first destination was the ramen house our hotel has recommended, the Ichikura Raman.
Since Isahikawa seem to be popular with shoyu-based ramen (shoyu: Japanese soy sauce), I settled and ordered the Okhotsk Shoyu Ramen. This ramen according to the menu is composed with unique Hokkaido ingredients like Namuro dried salmon flakes, Esashi dried herring and Rishiri kelp from Oumu. I was really happy that Ichikura Raman was the ramen place our hotel has recommended. And aside from their ramen, one surprising dish in this joint was their Gyoza. It was one of the best gyozas that I have tasted!
A lot of people say that it would be a sin for a tourist in Hokkaido if he/she failed or refuse to try the Hokkaido ice cream. This soft frozen dairy is one plain ice cream that is simply made of milk. It has no fancy flavor, no fancy add-ons and no fancy flairs for an ice cream. For me, its plainness makes Hokkaido ice cream remarkably exquisite and amazingly elegant.
Then, one of the highlights of our Asahikawa stay was the dinner at Jingisukan Daikokuya. This restaurant is the top rated local-cuisine restaurant in Asahikawa as per Tripadvisor. It is so popular people would have to wait and queue outside before they be given a table. Specialty of the house was Hokkaido’s grill icon called Genghis Khan (also termed Jingisukan).
Like their sophisticated ice cream, Jingisukan is a must try in Hokkaido. It is a unique style of yakiniku in which mutton and lamb are grilled on a convex skillet shaped like an upside-down bowl. Since the meat are grilled over charcoal, we were surprised to see and experience the amount of smoke inside the popular restaurant. We nevertheless did not complain because the smoke actually added up to the character and atmosphere of the establishment.
I personally prefer beef over lamb, but the marinated flavor and the stunning taste of the meat served to us gave me some second thought if I really do prefer beef over lamb. Genghis Khan was strikingly delicious!
Asahikawa may not be of the same level as that of Osaka, Tokyo or Sapporo where there are tons to see and marvel at. Asahikawa nevertheless has loads of gustatory surprises that tourists can taste and talk about.
Para maiba naman!