Photo Diary: Sapporo Crab Feast at Kani Doraku

We went for a stupendous 10 course crab feast when we were in Sapporo. Where best to try but Kani Doraku. It is a chain of restaurants that specialises in crabs. You can spot it from a mile away, with a giant crab at the front of the restaurant, waving its legs at you. When you first enter the restaurant, you are greeted by fountains and pits filled with crabs. They do not smell fishy though! Wonders of Japan.

We were settled into a nice private room, with tatami mats and the works. A warm hand towel to thaw our freezing faces and a hot cup of green tea later, we selected the courses we wanted and got ready to be filled with crab.

A few unimpressive starters came, like the cold crab salad and miso sesame glazed fish. I was getting impatient; surely not all ten courses were going to be of such crabby standards. Then came the good stuff: snow crab sashimi.

I have never had crab sashimi, but oh my god it is so good. Imagine a soft, slightly bouncy, silky jelly texture, melting slightly in your mouth, and as you bite down on it, it breaks away, leaving you craving for more of that sweet magical cloud. Perhaps my favourite dish of the menu. When I visited the restaurant chain again in Osaka this year, I was all geared up to try it again. So sugoyiiiii.

Next up: grilled crab with assorted vegetables! You can’t go wrong with that. The lady grilled it for us and checked on it every few minutes. It was grilled to perfection, but after you taste what the raw material is like, anything done to alter it will be regarded as blasphemy.

We also had baked/fried crab head, where they baked the roe and some meat with a nice crust. Tasted like a really good sotong (squid) ball.

Then the star of the show. The whole plate of crab legs you saw in the first photo was meant for the gorgeous hot pot. Slurping on that soup that was made so sweet by the legs and cabbage, nibbling on the delicate fresh crab meat, I can go on and on about this pot of goodness. What is best about it is that they instruct you not to finish all the soup as they will tip in bowls of rice and start making you porridge on the spot with egg and seaweed. The essence of the crab has been boiled down to that few golden drops of heaven, and that mixed with Japanese rice and egg, was the sweet ending to our meal.

We ended off on a really sweet note, with fruits in fresh yoghurt and berry compote. A sweet and tart finish to a fantastic meal. It was almost too difficult to leave the warmth of the restaurant and step out into the damn blizzard, but our warm stomachs made it a little easier to survive our way to the underpass and back home.

Here is a glimpse of what you see in Sapporo all day all night in the winter. Quite beautiful when you are all huddled indoors and when you first step out into the cold, but it really gets annoying after a while.


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