Finally, I’ve made it into Sapporo City. It has been a long an arduous journey, and not something that I expected. My red-eye international ANA flight from Singapore to Haneda Airport, Japan was anything but quiet. With at least two babies taking their turns to cry when everyone was trying to sleep, it simply made the night flight almost unbearable. Still, I must commend the ANA cabin crew who were trying their best to pacify the babies and surrounding passengers. They were obviously flustered but still maintained an excellent degree of composure. After a 6 hour international flight, it was on to another 1.5 hours domestic ANA flight from Haneda to the New Chitose Airport.
Quickly zipping through Haneda airport to the domestic connecting flight
The limousine bus ride from the New Chitose Airport to the Ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel was a charming but hot journey. Despite the chilly temperatures outside, the bus’ heating system plus a blazing sun shining right at my direction through the windows made that 90 minutes trip a little unbearable. I was glad when we finally reached and disembarked.
For the first three nights that I was in Sapporo, I stayed at the Ibis Styles Sapporo Hotel. Recently launched in December 2014, this hotel is conveniently located a few minutes walk from the Susukino entertainment street and a 2 minutes access to the nearest Nakajimakoen Station (itself a 7 minutes train ride to Sapporo station). It was a pleasant stay, and I thoroughly enjoyed the spacious rooms which the hotel provided. WIFI and breakfast is complimentary. (Read the full review here)
After settling into the hotel, my travel buddy Brian and I decided to explore the Susukino area and grab some dinner along the way. Susukino is a very nice area to walk around in the day, but it is the night life that stands out more. From a number of izakaya tauts to the occasional street walker, this perhaps represented a side of Sapporo that is not usually seen.
A crab restaurant dots the landscape
We headed into the brightly lit Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade for a little respite from the darker streets. Pleasantly, we fond that there was a Don Quijote (think budget store) where we could purchase snacks and other essentials. But more importantly, as we strolled along the sheltered shopping street, I noticed a quick streak of flame emerging from the kitchen confines of this particular restaurant – the Sapporo Engine Ramen Restaurant.
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Sapporo Engine Ramen Restaurant
Located along Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade
For the first night in Sapporo, we chanced upon Sapporo Engine (www.n43engine.com), a ramen restaurant along the Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade (the sheltered shopping street) that features a ‘flaming god’ miso broth which quickly caught my attention. With the high flames flames stoked from the stove, it was hard to miss, determining the dinner place for the night.
For 980 JPY, enjoy a substantial portion of Miso ramen served alongside char shu, diced pork loin, bamboo shoots, onions, ajitama, and cabbages. The broth is heady and thick, with a strong umami flavour that would leave you wanting the next sip. An excellent choice on a slightly chilly night.
Alternatively, go for the 830 JPY Tsukemen that has its broth combined with both miso and vinegar, and boiled for a good 7 minutes over an open fire. The tsukemen is also served with diced pork loin, onions, ajitama and bamboo shoots. Personally, I would go for the restaurant’s Miso ramen as I preferred the stronger stickier broth compared to the Tsukemen’s slightly tangy salty mix.
With the last slurp of the tasty soup, the night ended on a satisfying note. And for the next day’s gourmet trip, I am making my way down to Sapporo’s Beer Museum! Of course, this is all about priorities right.