After viewing the snow sculptures at Odori Park, I went to JR Tower ESTA to get my friend Akiko the ONE SWEET she really wanted.
There are thousands of sweet shops in Japan, most of them carrying regional specialties. If you see one that you like when visiting a particular area, get it. Don’t wait till you get to your last stop. You will regret. The Duty Free shop in Narita has only basic big brand stuff that are not really that interesting.
Seeing that it was almost lunch time and I was in Hokkaido, I really wanted sushi. Nemuro Hanamaru in JR Tower has stellar reviews on TripAdvisor. But a quick scan of the crowds assured me that it was more for foreign tourists than Japanese locals. So I opted for Sushi Zen (すし善) in Daimaru, a Michelin two-star restaurant from Sapporo. I was in sushi heaven! The fish was super fresh and melt in my mouth, the flavors well paired, and the plate artfully presented. I specifically loved the braised octopus head – incredibly tender; and Kegani (the Hokkaido hairy crab).
After lunch, I went sweet shopping for myself. Hokkaido is known for their dairy products and Rokkatei (六花亭) is a famous local brand. Their head office (本店) is just minutes walk from the JR station. On my way there, it started snowing heavily, making it all beautiful and magical 🙂
I grabbed a few things to try. The sakuramochi is fresh and not too sweet. This biscuit with a thin layer of cream and raisins in the middle, is delish. But this tiny cake, with matcha filling, is simply divine. And if there is one thing I wish I had done – it is to buy a box of these to bring with me.
For dinner, I went for Sapporo’s signature dish – Soup curry (スープカレー). It is basically a light curry flavored soup served with some type of meat and roasted vegetables. I picked the original chicken soup curry and a glass of yuzu lassi. The soup has a good amount of spice in it and was flavorful, but both the chicken and the vegetables were bland. There was a huge line forming out the door as I was leaving the restaurant, it must be popular for the cold and snowy days in Sapporo.
On my way back to the hotel, I passed a popular Cheese Tart Shop. My heart desired it, but my stomach said no.
Downtown Sapporo has a spacious underground walkway that connects the JR station with the festival sites. I decided to take the elevator up the Sapporo TV Tower to see everything from above. Forty-five minutes of waiting in line later, I realized I forgot my camera, and all I could get with my phone is a picture of the skate rink.
Thus concluded my first day in Sapporo. I had great fun seeing the snow sculptures, and savoring local food. I went back to my hotel room and ate the mont blanc pastry I bought earlier from Rokkatei. It was fresh and creamy, better than any mont blanc I’ve tasted. and called it a night!