Yakiniku (Grilled Meat)
Kitami city has the highest number of yakiniku restaurants per capita in Hokkaido. Every February, during the coldest season of the year, about 1,500 people enjoy the “Kitami Cold Winter Yakiniku Festival”. Since the 1950’s, restaurants in this area served horumonyaki (grilled beef or pork offal), which was easily obtainable and fresh. Yakiniku restaurants quickly grew popular because business people could gather after work for socializing. Even after over 60 years, it is still a beloved culture.
Yakiniku in Kitami has 4 characteristics:
1) “Horumonyaki” – the Kitami tradition of grilled pork horumon is both popular and spreading.
2) “Hanging Tender” – this cut of meat is part of the offal and is more popular than short rib.
3) “No Seasoning” – the restaurant serves just the meat without any extra seasoning.
4) “Original Sauces” – Many restaurants have their own sauces, usually made from a mix of salt, pepper, and fresh fruits, that are glazed on top of the freshly grilled meats.
Kitami is located in Eastern Hokkaido and is the regional hub city of the Okhotsk area. Kitami’s Okhotsk Beer was the first brewery in Japan to receive a license for producing local beer, which is still a talking point for many locals.
A restaurant in the factory serves food and several brews that uses locally grown malted barley, including ale, pilsner, weizen, mild stout, as well as other local beers. You can enjoy the local beers here before filtration too.
Kitami is called the “City of Cocktails”, as evident when more than 20 times the number of bartenders from Kitami joined the national cocktail competition as representatives of Hokkaido.
Ingredients and techniques are genuine, but remain reasonably priced. Anyone who has an appreciation of beer craft will enjoy a memorable visit to Kitami.
Most of the sweets shops in Kitami use locally produced flour and red beans and often make each sweet one at a time. One long-established shop is more than 100 years old. Another shop uses fresh local ingredients as much as possible for their baked sweets, while another shop sells only cream puffs. Locals usually go to the popular shops before lunch time because some sweets are soon sold out.
A long time ago, sweets shops were open to pioneers, and after many years, these shops began to sell Western-style sweets as well as traditional Japanese sweets.