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Discovering the Delicious Culinary Traditions of Northern Japan

The Gastronomy of Northern Japan

Japan’s cuisine is world-renowned for its intricate flavors, varied textures, and enticing presentations. Each region of the country has its own unique culinary traditions that have been honed and perfected over the centuries. One such area is Northern Japan, an area that is often overlooked by tourists but is a treasure trove of delectable dishes.

Grilled Hokke: A Local Delicacy

One dish that is a must-try when in Northern Japan is grilled hokke. This local fish is found in the cold waters off the coast of Hokkaido and is a staple in the diet of the region’s residents. Hokke is a type of mackerel that has a firm, oily flesh that is perfect for grilling. It is usually seasoned with salt and served with a wedge of lemon and grated daikon radish on the side. The combination of the salty, savory fish with the tangy citrus and refreshing radish is simply divine.

Jingisukan: A Mongolian-Inspired Dish

Another dish that has become synonymous with Northern Japan is jingisukan. This dish is a type of grilled lamb that is believed to have been introduced by Mongolian soldiers who invaded Japan in the 13th century. The lamb is typically seasoned with soy sauce, sake, and garlic and grilled on a special concave metal plate. This dish is popular throughout Hokkaido and is best enjoyed with a cold beer.

Shio Ramen: A Salty and Satisfying Noodle Soup

Ramen is a ubiquitous dish throughout Japan, but Northern Japan has its own spin on the classic dish. Shio ramen, which literally translates to “salt ramen,” is a delicious noodle soup made with a clear, salty broth. The soup is typically topped with sliced pork, bamboo shoots, and green onions. The noodles themselves are usually thin and straight, providing the perfect vehicle for slurping up the savory broth.

Hotate: Scallops Served in Their Shells

Finally, no trip to Northern Japan would be complete without trying some of the region’s famous hotate, or scallops. These plump, juicy bivalves are often served in their shells, topped with a delectable mixture of miso, mayo, and cheese and broiled until bubbly and golden brown. The combination of the rich, umami flavors in the topping with the sweet, delicate taste of the scallops is nothing short of heavenly.


Northern Japan may not get as much attention as some of the country’s more well-known culinary regions, but it is definitely worth a visit for food lovers. From the delicate flavors of grilled hokke to the hearty satisfaction of jingisukan, there are so many unique and delicious dishes to discover in this corner of Japan. So if you’re planning a trip to Japan, make sure to add Northern Japan to your itinerary and prepare to be amazed by its gastronomic offerings.
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