Hakodate is the 3rd largest city in Hokkaido, after Sapporo and Asahikawa. Our leisurely drive from Noboribetsu took about 3 hours as we took our time and stopped for coffee along the way. We reached our hotel, Dormy Inn Express in the late evening. After checking in and freshening up, we headed out looking for dinner. We drove a short distance – it’s easy to get around in Hakodate, and found ourselves at Daimon Yokocho – food alleys serving local food.
The eateries in Daimon Yokocho are all tiny, some seating just about 6 people! Most of them were full as locals and tourists planted themselves enjoying drinks and food. In some of the outlets, we could see the owners sitting down with their guests and having a merry time!
The eateries we wanted to try were packed so we finally chose one which could accommodate us and we had some seafood soup and crab congee. Those were our appetizers as after that, we crossed over the main road and had a proper dinner in a restaurant. It was a restaurant specializing in grilled dishes and we had some really good stuff that night. The grilled squid was outstanding – we order that twice!
Hakodate Morning Market
One of the highlights of our time in Hakodate was of course the Hakodate Asaichi – Hakodate Morning Market located opposite the Hakodate JR Station. There are about 250 stalls in this bustling market and we absolutely adored gawking at all the fresh and dried seafood on sale. Everything was so tempting – we couldn’t decide fast enough which type of crabs to go for first.
In the end, we gave in to the fresh king crab and settled down at one of the bigger stalls to savour one. Our live king crab weighed more than 2kg and this was served to us in 2 ways: half of it grilled and the other half steamed. Words can’t describe how incredibly sweet and delicious that king crab was! It was money well spent – that crab cost about RM830.
We also tried our hand at squid-fishing in the market. Admittedly, it’s a touristy thing to do but we just had to try it! It’s a fail-safe thing – you just have to decide which squid you want to catch! Our caught squid was then immediately cleaned and cut-up and served to us sashimi-style. The strips of translucent succulent squid were sweet, dipped in shoyu + chopped ginger.
Seasonal fruits like the famous Hakodate melons and grapes were on sale and we bought a whole melon and bags of grapes to eat throughout the day! Dried scallops were aplenty everywhere and we bought a kilo of those – not cheap but they were very fresh and of premium quality.
We loved the market so much that we visited it again the following day for breakfast before heading to Lake Toya. The Donburi Yokocho Ichiba, the food arcade in the market had all kinds of temptations which were really hard to resist! Seafood rice bowls, hairy crabs, grilled scallops – we had them all, and more!
We spent some time downtown, strolling and shopping at the famous Redbricks Warehouses and the surrounding area. We checked out the famous Lucky Pierrot cafe just across from the shopping warehouses. We are not sure what the fuss was all about as we found their burgers rather rudimentary at best. I guess the novelty was just to visit the cafes as each cafe spots a different theme in their deco.
A Lucky Pierrot burger
Later that evening we took the cable car up to Mt Hakodate for the famous nightview of the harbour and city. There’s always a long queue for the cable car so one really has to be patient. The ride was only about 3 minutes and of course it’s very cold up there. We had to pull our jackets tightly as it was also windy and jostled with lots of people to get the best spot to take photos of the breath-taking night scene below!
We stayed two nights in Hakodate Dormy Inn Express and on the 3rd day after another hearty seafood breakfast at the Hakodate Morning Market, we set out for Lake Toya. The route we took had us driving through the beautiful lush greenery of orchards and farms. We could also spot Mt Komagatake in the misty distance as we drove through the beautiful Onuma Quasi park areas.
It was rainy that day but that did not deter us from stopping to admire the lake in the Onuma Valley.
We also stopped by Kurobeko Yakiniku (Challenge Beef) and had a most delicious and memorable lunch of beef yakiniku! The restaurant only served the best Onuma beef produced by farmers in the region!
The setting was like a ranch with solid wooden tables and benches inside the spacious dining hall. From the windows we could see the rolling countryside and hills – it’s all very rural and close to Mother Nature!
Our lunch cost around ¥13,000 for some of the best Wagyu beef and we had quite a lot! The restaurant is open from 11am to 8pm and is situated along the road from Lake Onuma to Shikabe town.
Just grill them and enjoy!
436 Kami-Ikusagawa, Nanae-cho
Kameda-gun, Hokkaido 041-1100
Stay tuned for the next part of our journey – Lake Toya & Sapporo!