We know it sounds crazy to not want to gorge on seafood every chance you get in Hakodate. After all, the city is known for having one of the freshest sea produce in Hokkaido, thanks to its proximity to the ocean. From the Hakodate morning market to the various restuarants along the bay area, Hakodate is simply overflowing with fresh fish, prawns, scallops, squids and other sea harvests you can imagine. However, if you’re feeling like you’ve had one too many kaisendon (seafood bowls) or not a fan of raw seafood to begin with, here are 4 places you absolutely must check out. In fact, you should check them out anyway, because they are so good.
Exclusive to Hakodate, Lucky Pierrot probably has the most chaotic decor of all fast food restaurants in orderly Japan. The interior is packed (right up to the painings on the wall) with quirky vintage French/ Chinese decoratives and knick knacks and has a clown as its mascot. The menu is rather ecletic too consisting of everything from fried chicken, to burgers to Chinese style char mee (fried noodles), katsudon (fried pork cutlet) and soft serve. The only thing in common on the menu is that everything tastes great. If you only have space for a few items, make sure to try the Chinese Chicken burger — the patty is crispy on the outside yet so moist and tender inside, while the sesame specked burger buns are soft and nutty. The katsudon is pretty good too. Just remember that the portions are rather large so you’d want to pace yourself.
Lucky Pierrot, Hakodate
Address: 23-18 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate (Bay Area main branch), 函館末広町23-18
Opening hours : 1000 – 0030hrs
Located near the famous Goryokaku Park, Shimonya is a causal eatery specialising in donburri for lunch. At night, the quiet restaurant is transformed into a vibrant salaryman heaven serving kick-ass charcoal grilled yakitori (starting from JPY100) and sake. The food at this eatery is so good we would actually recommend you go there for both lunch and dinner. For lunch, try the char siew don (JPY500). The melt-in-the-mouth char siew has just the right amount of seasoning and smokiness and goes perfectly with the plump, flluffy short-grain rice. The chicken and leek yakitori, chicken balls (tsukune) and grilled chicken skin are a must from the dinner offering. The chef is simply a master at seasoning and barbequing. Make sure you order some sake to go with all that savoury goodness and watch the waiter fill your glass until it literally overflows — it’s a Japanese tradition, we were told.
Shimonya, 四文屋 函館五稜郭店
Address: Honcho Hakodate Hokkaido (69 metres from Goryokaku Koemmae), 北海道 函館市 本町 7-14
Lunch: 11:30 -14:00, Dinner: 17:00 – 22:30
Asari Honten is slightly off the city grid but certainly worth travelling to for a good sukiyaki meal. Located at Horai-Cho tram station, the restaurant boasts a butchery on the first level and the restaurant decked out with beautiful tatami rooms on the second floor. The beef cuts start from ¥1500 yen, which comes with marbled wagyu (the cheaper cuts) and go all the way to (around ¥4000) for the A5 Wagyu.
Asari Honten, 阿佐利本店
Address:10-11 Horaicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido Prefecture 040-0043
Tel: +81 138 23 0421
Daimon Yokocho 横丁内
Daimon Yokocho offers a nice cluster of izakaya style bars and kiosks you can venture into. Located about a good 10-minute walk from Hakodate JR station, you can get everything from yakitori, sushi rolls to ramen and of course, seafood — just take your pick. Another great perk of dining here: the opportunity to huddle up and mingle with the locals in one of these smokey bars. Do note that the eateries are really small so they’re not suitable for groups of five or more.
Daimon Yokocho, 横丁内
Address: 7-5, Matsukazecho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Burger shop Hot Box
Maybe it was the cosy, charming wooden decor, but something about this tiny burger joint made us walk in to try the fare — and we’re glad we did. Hot Box specialises in burgers and they make them really juicy. Like most Japanese style burgers, the patties at Hot Box are not overly seasoned nor drenched in gravy so the taste of all that fresh, natural ingredients can come through. Go for the original burger, which comes with a thick beef patty and melted cheese sandwiched between two soft buns or a fancier version such as mashed potato bacon burger.
Burger shop Hot Box
Address: 3-11 Matsukazecho, Hakodate 040-0035, Hokkaido
Tel: +81 138-22-2772