Gotochi Gurume (“Local gourmet”, inexpensive yet delicious local dishes)
Innovative new flavors, and time-honored soul foods
Gotochi gurume ("local gourmet") utilizes locally-produced ingredients and original cooking styles to create flavors that can only be enjoyed at the town or region of origin. Recent examples of gotochi gurume are often part of local economic development efforts, but this genre also includes time-honored local classics.
Gotochi gurume dishes that are related to regional development plans often have specific definitions and rules. For example, the definition of Furano Omu-Curry (Omelette Curry) is “A new genre of curry cuisine which combines the beloved dishes of Japanese curry and omurice (rice omelette), made with local ingredients and presented in a special manner.” The six rules include, “Must be made with Furano-grown rice, prepared in an original manner”, “In general, the eggs shall be produced in Furano, and the dish shall be decorated with a flag in the middle of the omelette”, “Include a side dish featuring a local Furano ingredient, and a bottle of Furano milk”. (Source: Furano Omu-Curry Official Website)
The small town of Bekkai is known as Japan’s top producer of milk, and also boasts fresh scallops from the Notsuke Peninsula. These ingredients are combined to produce the “Bekkai Jumbo Scallop Burger”. There are 10 intricate rules, including “the buns must be made at the local bakery, Café Oak”, “Notsuke Jumbo Scallops of size at least 2L must be used”, “The scallops must be prepared as a spring roll”, “Three sauces must be provided, including one original sauce unique to the restaurant”. Even the exact method of layering the ingredients in the bun is set in stone. (Source: Bekkai Jumbo Milk & Jumbo Scallop Burger Official Website)
All gotochi gurume dishes make extensive use of local ingredients, to provide a warm welcome to visitors. One particularly interesting example is “Minami Furano Ezo Cutlet Curry”. With increasing interest in the Hokkaido Ezo sika deer as a source of venison, the Minamifurano town government developed the dish as a way to encourage consumption. (Source: Hokkaido Gotoji Area Network Official Website.) This is a case of a completely new gotochi gurume, with even its base ingredient being newly developed.
On the other hand, gotochi gurume also includes time-honored dishes which are deeply ingrained in local history and culture. For example, consider the Tokachi region’s buta-don (pork-topped rice bowl). This dish originated in Obihiro City, which has had a bustling pork industry since the Meiji period. This dish was created by using a readily available and much-loved local ingredient.
Nemuro City’s esukaroppu (“escalope”) is said to have been created in the port district, as a filling dish which could be quickly eaten by local sailors. This dish features buttered rice with bamboo shoots, topped with a thinly-pounded breaded pork cutlet and dressed with demi-glace sauce. This local Nemuro soul food is a must-try.
Kushiro City is renowned for its zangi (Hokkaido-style fried chicken). It’s said that the dish was invented at a yakitori (skewered grilled chicken) restaurant. When they happened to receive a whole chicken, on a whim the chef chopped it into chunks for deep frying. The impromptu dish was well-received by regulars, and went on to become a much-imitated signature dish. To this day, the local style of zangi is a true taste of Kushiro.
Eastern Hokkaido holds a great number of unique gotochi gurume to explore, such as Biei Curry Udon (Biei Town), Tokachi Memuro Corn Fried Rice (Memuro Town), Tokachi Shimizu Gyudama Steak Don (Shimizu Town), Shiranuka Tako Tsubu Steak Don (Shiranuka Town), Okhotsk Kiyosato Rainbow Udon (Kiyosato Town), Abashiri Moyoro Nabe (Abashiri City). And, keep your eyes for new local sensations!
Genghis Kahn is a true Hokkaido soul food. The soy-based sauce includes vegetables and fruit, drawing out the deliciousness of lamb and highlighting the unique character of each restaurant. Genghis Kahn has even been selected as a Hokkaido heritage. An absolute must-try.
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.