Sapporo Central Wholesale Market and Curb Market: Seafood Donburi, Horsehair Crab, Fresh Sea Urchin, Grilled Hokke Fish

Hokkaido Central Wholesale Market

We decided to have lunch at the famous Sapporo Central Wholesale Market in Hokkaido. The market is known for fresh and local seafood and there are a lot of stalls which serve the crabs, seafood and fish they sell on top of rice (called kaisendon). It’s less commercialized than the Nijo Market and the Curb Market beside the wholesale market is open to the public. It’s the best place in Sapporo to eat sashimi on rice!

Sapporo Curb Market Donburi

There are several huge restaurants at the Sapporo Curb Market and I was intrigued by the beautiful bowls of fresh seafood there. You can have a luxurious bowl of rice topped with fresh raw uni (sea urchin) for JPY 4,500 (about RM 180) or a bowl of rice with a bit of everything for JPY 2,980. The prices might sound a little steep but these are super fresh premium local seafood.

Sapporo Donburi

However, my better half wanted to go to a locally owned restaurant instead and thus we popped into a hole-in-the-wall where the locals went to. The stuff they all serve are pretty much the same – it’s basically variants of different types of seafood on rice, since this is a restaurant attached to a fish market. You can also upgrade your miso soup to crab miso soup for JPY 500 (about RM 20).

Horsehair Crab Miso Soup

I did that for mine and this is what it looks like. The restaurant put both snow crab and horsehair crab (also known as Hokkaido Hairy Crab) into the soup for a 500 yen supplement, which is a good price. It has one leg from a snow crab and one body from a horsehair crab.

Seafood Donburi

I ordered the seafood donburi. You can choose as many types of seafood as you want and it’s calculated accordingly. I went with 5 toppings + sea urchin for JPY 2,800 (about RM 110). I chose horsehair crab (ケガニ/kegani), humpback shrimp (peony ebi), surf clam (hokkigai), squid (ika), scallop (hotate), and sea urchin (uni) in the middle. OMG! This is without a doubt the best donburi I ever had!

Hokkaido Horsehair Crab

The horsehair crab (far right) is a local species and the only cooked item in this bowl. The humpback shrimp is raw and extremely sweet! It’s called peony ebi in Japanese and it’s the largest shrimp in Hokkaido. I loved the crunchy surf clam and the soft scallop too. The squid was the most interesting thing – I was puzzled at first coz it didn’t look like any squid I’ve ever seen.

Uni Sashimi Donburi

This brown/orange stuff at 7 pm is actually part of the squid’s head! It’s superbly creamy (like foie gras from the sea) and has a wonderful mouth feel. Very sweet too. It’s hard to find squid like this unless you order ikizukuri (live sashimi) coz the squid head (brains?) is one of the most sought after items. I loved it! The uni was also perfect, freshest I’ve ever had. You have to eat the uni in Hokkaido, it’s a completely different species called ezo bafun uni (short-spined sea urchin).

Hokke Fish

Hokke (ほっけ) is what the Japanese call Okhotsk atka mackerel – it’s caught off the waters of Hokkaido so it’s super fresh and local. My dear wanted something hot so she had this for JPY 850 (about RM 40). It’s grilled and served whole with rice. The hokke fish is charred on the skin since it’s cooked yakitori style – they call it yaki hokke (焼きホッケ) in Sapporo. You’re supposed to pick at the meat and the awesome thing is that there are no pinbones inside.

Grilled Hokke

You can also eat the skin but it’s slightly chewy and crispy. The caramelized flesh is really delicious though – the semi burnt smoky taste permeates the whole fish and it’s quite substantial in size. This is served with miso soup and a bowl of rice and there’s nothing quite like eating such a locally caught fish inside a warm family owned restaurant attached to a fish market in the cold, snowy winter.

Sapporo Donburi Restaurant

The seafood bowls here are the best in Sapporo. The price is also relatively cheap – the grade of uni we get locally will never be served here, it’s not even fit for their dumpster (to be perfectly blunt). The sea urchin they sell get slashed to half price at 12 pm! That’s how much they put a premium on quality and freshness. You can’t get it any fresher than from the fish wholesale market so if you’re in Hokkaido, pay a visit to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market and Curb Market and enjoy the delicious raw seafood donburi! :)

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17 thoughts on “Sapporo Central Wholesale Market and Curb Market: Seafood Donburi, Horsehair Crab, Fresh Sea Urchin, Grilled Hokke Fish

  1. Halo Huai Bin…Long time din drop by here already.
    Wow….you’ve just been to Hokkaido. I’m planning to go there also.
    Heard that Curb Market is better option than Nijo Market. Anyway…the seafood looks so good. Gonna wallop more sashimi :-)

  2. This is another interesting post today. I am always learning new stuffs from my sifu HB. Hey what is this cute name – a hole-in-the-wall? It sounds like an eat over counter dining places.

    That bowl of seafood donburi was so delicious and really inviting! I would love to sink my teeth into that bowl filled to the brim. The price, never mind la.
    I think I would be in Cloud 9 eating that huge Hokke! So yummilicious!

  3. Your bowl of donburi is definitely awesome. I’ve never seen squid like that and the uni in the middle, OMG! It makes me sad though knowing that what I had here in our country is not even fit for their dumpster. Huhuhu.. must make a trip there one day :(

  4. Wow. That is squid? I never seen it like that before. It surprised me too to see the orange squid brain. Is squid sotong or is squid cuttlefish?

  5. i love these sorts of hole-in-the-wall local places … they really do well in combining fresh flavours with easier-on-the-wallet prices … and the seafood donburi looks awesome! if i ate it, i think it would haunt my dreams for a very very long time … count me in for the squid head stuff! :) the hokke looks great too … in kl, the hokke served here tends to be not the highlight of a meal, but the one you had looks like it would be really tasty and textured :)

  6. i avoid eating fish coz of the bones but since this Hokke doesnt have those tiny bones i would try it if i happen to see it in a restaurant. Kena fish bone stuck in the throat once. scared already

  7. I probably would’ve grabbed one of those bowls with what looks like fatty tuna in the 2nd photo. Looks damn good!

    This reminded me of the first time I had uni in Japan. I always hear it described as “tastes like the sea” on cooking shows. I thought that was a ridiculous description until I tried it for the first time. I couldn’t think of any other way to describe it!

  8. From what my parents told me once, Sapporo is rather known for its fresh seafood. Omg, squid brain?! I don’t think I can stomach the taste of it. =/

    How did it taste, btw? =)

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