Hokkaido Food Is Finally Taking Its Place In America

On Japan's northernmost and second largest island of Hokkaido, the active volcanoes give life to soothing natural hot springs, making it a literal hotspot for comfort-seeking travelers. Besides being an outdoor lover's paradise in any season, the Hokkaido prefecture is also well known for having its own unique culinary culture, separate from the mainland. Renowned for its impeccably fresh seafood catches, Sapporo beer, huge dairy industry, famous ramen, and the juiciest melons in Japan, it's no wonder why Hokkaido food has made its way to the States with ease. Several chain restaurants and fine dining experiences across the country can give you an authentic taste of Hokkaido's best dishes without ever having to hop on an international flight.

Some of the higher-end Hokkaido eateries appearing in the U.S. import the island's specialties, like Chef Chikara Sono's NYC restaurant Kappo Sono. He explained to Bon Appétit that the island's rice is a true delicacy, different from the grains anywhere else in Japan. Other one-of-a-kind eats from the Hokkaido region you'll want to try are milk bread, rich soft serve ice cream, miso-based ramen, Zangi chicken, and savory soup curry. Of course, you can't skip out on ordering some of the best sushi around, especially when seasonal seafood is sourced directly from the sushi capital of the world itself. If it's Hokkaido food you're in search of, there might just be a location serving it in all its glory near you.

The best restaurants in America to try Hokkaido food

Whether your aim is to slurp flavorful ramen in a cozy diner setting or raise your glass with a few friends for a celebratory meal, you have your pick from a variety of delicious Hokkaido dining experiences all over the U.S. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka started in Japan back in the 80's as a small shio (salt) ramen restaurant that has since spread to 61 locations around the world. The restaurant prides itself on its umami-rich tonkatsu broth, which involves a slow, 20-hour simmer of savory pork bones for the ramen to soak up. After Santouka opened its first U.S. location in Seattle in 2014, Hokkaido restaurants started popping up all over America.

Another dinner idea is Hokkaido Ramen and Sushi Bar, which has over 30 locations across the country where you can have that same traditional ramen and seafood we've been raving about. If you've left any room for dessert, you should know that the Hokkaido region is where much of Japan gets its dairy. So you know you're in for a real treat when you grab a vanilla soft serve with saucy mochi balls at Seattle's Indigo Cow, the first American ice cream shop to use the island's own ultra-creamy milk. We just hope there's even more Hokkaido goodness yet to come.