Genghis Khan (or jingisu-kan) is perhaps the single dish which best symbolizes Hokkaido cuisine. However, its history is not precisely known. One theory is that it is an adaptation of the Chinese hotpot dish “shuan yang rou”, adjusted to suit the Japanese palate. And somewhat surprisingly, Genghis Khan is found outside of Hokkaido as well, in Iwate, Nagano, and Chiba. With that said, Hokkaido is by far the most famous region for Genghis Khan. Many households have specialized griddles just for this dish, and you’ll even see Genghis Khan prepared at hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties).
The method of preparing and enjoying Genghis Khan varies greatly between regions and households. This dish can be broadly divided into two styles: aji-tsuke which is strongly marinated in the sauce ahead of time, or ato-zuke which is dipped in the sauce after cooking. Ato-zuke (dipped) tends to be more popular in Sapporo and along the coast, while aji-tsuke is more popular inland. In Eastern Hokkaido, aji-tsuke (marinated) seems prevalent. Genghis Khan Shirakaba (Obihiro City) is said to be so famous that everyone in the Tokachi region knows the name. The key to their unique flavor is in the sauce. The recipe is a closely-guarded secret, including about a dozen vegetable extracts and spices. This sauce brings out the savory flavor of lamb to its greatest potential, instantly turning first-timers into loyal repeaters. When visiting the Tokachi-Obihiro-Shikaribetsu area, don’t forget to include this famous Obihiro restaurant in your itinerary.
In “the Barbecue Town” Asahikawa, there are countless famous and popular Genghis Khan restaurants. At Taisetsu Ji-Biru Kan (Asahikawa City), you can enjoy a local craft beer alongside Genghis Khan. Checking out these deliciously noteworthy restaurants is part of the fun of planning your visit.
Out of Hokkaido's many tangible and intangible cultural assets, 52 have been selected as "Hokkaido Heritages" to be passed on to future generations. This prestigious list includes Genghis Khan. More than just a style of cuisine, Genghis Khan has been designated as a cultural treasure of Hokkaido. All the more reason to try this delicious local favorite during your next visit.
Eastern Hokkaido is home to a thriving livestock industry. Each region is known for unique brand meats, with stock raised on bountiful fields surrounded by the splendors of nature. In particular, two towns are particularly renowned as paradises for yakiniku (barbecue) lovers. How about sampling these succulent meat dishes as you travel through Eastern Hokkaido?
Two of Japan’s foremost agricultural production regions are Tokachi, the “Agricultural Kingdom”, and Kamifurano-Biei, with a firmly-established crop farming industry. The true flavor of freshly-harvested seasonal vegetables shine through in remarkable dishes. Vibrant colors and tastes are a treat to the eyes and palate alike. These vegetables are one of the true joys of Eastern Hokkaido.
Food culture throughout Hokkaido is often represented by the unique local ramen of each region. Eastern Hokkaido is renowned for two historical styles of ramen, “Asahikawa Ramen” and “Kushiro Ramen”. Don’t miss newcomers such as the dried scallop-topped “Hoshi Kaibashira Shio Ramen” found along the Okhotsk Sea coastal region.