Rule #1: Never Leave Hokkaido Without Having Soup Curry
(This would be the equivalent of not having carne asada fries, a California burrito & horchata while staying in San Diego. But, let’s not get me started with my hometown food. Best saved for another day.)
Okay, so here’s the lowdown. Seafood. Ramen. Jingisukan. & Soup Curry. These are what make up Hokkaido’s main food specialties in my opinion, but the topic of this post will be in regards to the latter.
Having said that, if you ever find yourself in the northern part of Japan, specifically Sapporo, then you need to make sure you get yourself a bowl of soup curry—STAT.
Soup curry doesn’t use or have the same kind of curry you might find in, let’s say katsu curry, or curry rice. Nope. Soup curry is a totally different beast. I tend to think of it more like a kind of hearty stew. A hearty stew with a punch!
I’m writing this post mainly because I get quite fanatic when I find a new & noteworthy soup curry shop, which just so happened to be the other day.
Now, before I go on, I’m just gonna put it out there that I am no food critic at all. And I’m not about to act the fool and get all Anthony Bourdain up in here either. If I were a food critic, all my reviews would literally be the same.
And that would be it, you know. Every review. “F*cking delicious.” So instead, I’m just here to evangelize the goodness and let the pictures speak for themselves 🙂
Rule #2: Your First Soup Curry Experience WILL be Sama (Or Ramai)
My wife and I finally had some time to ourselves without the little one and decided to spend this rare opportunity on a lunch date a few days ago.
In the short time it took before even laying out all our options on where to eat, I was already hinting at the fact that we hadn’t eaten soup curry in a while.
Kosato then mentioned a recommendation from a friend for a shop we both hadn’t been to yet—Sama. We decided to check it out.
Sama is apparently quite popular and I was shocked at how many shops they have across Japan and even overseas. They have 9 branches in Hokkaido. We visited the original and main one in Sapporo (very close to where I work actually). 3 branches in other parts of lower Japan. And finally, a shop in Hong Kong and one in Singapore.
Now, one thing both my wife & I look for in soup curry is the texture of the soup. The soup itself is really where it’s at. We like the rich and rather thick styles of soup. So you’ll kind of notice that my recommendations in the this post are rather biased toward this type of soup base. There are shops that have a very soupy style of, well, soup (I’m not sure if that makes sense). In my opinion, it’s not as tasty as a soup with a thicker base. These usually pack the most flavor and in the case of Sama, we were not disappointed.
Sama easily became our #1 after eating here!
If, however, I were to recommend a soup curry shop that does sport a soupy base, Suage would be it.
Suage was actually the first soup curry shop Kosato introduced to me when we were first dating. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Susukino in Sapporo, so if you’re ever in town check it out! It’s one of my faves.
Okushiba Shoten is the definitely the definition of local. No website. No parking. Long lines. Located in the neighborhood. And it’s shop was actually a house made into a shop. The interior had a very retro themed vibe going for it. I was really digging it and their soup curry wasn’t bad at all. You’ll see this name pop up on a lot of top soup curry lists. Personally, it’s not one of our top picks, as it does fall under the soupy soup category for us. But it’s still worth a mention!
Before Sama, Ramai was our number one. In fact, I’m actually still deciding between the two which is better. It truly is difficult because with Ramai, as you can see, the bowl of soup curry is massive. Just look at the volume. And of course all the signature flavors can’t be ignored either, but obviously that’s something that can’t be seen. You’ll have to taste that for yourself!
And this brings us to the end of the list with Garaku. Only two pictures here, it’s so sad. But, this is no indication that it wasn’t good. I actually really did enjoy this soup curry. Kosato not so much. We did both feel like it was missing something. 結局「コクがない」と思ってたなぁ
In the end though, no matter which soup curry shop you decide on venturing out to first, just remember this last rule…