4 major crabs you want to eat in Hokkaido & 4 popular restaurants where you can enjoy crab course dishes!

Hokkaido, known for its many hot spring resorts, is a great place to enjoy hot spring tourism, especially in the upcoming season. Furthermore, Hokkaido in winter is known for its abundant delicious seafood.

Among them, crabs are popular because they offer a thick and rich sweetness, umami, and a firm texture. There are not a few people who visit just for the crab dishes too. In this article, we will introduce four types of crabs that can be eaten in Hokkaido and four famous restaurants where you can enjoy crab dishes. All of these restaurants offer English menus, making them friendly for foreign tourists too.

If you love crabs, you should visit Hokkaido! What is the reason it is called the "Crab Kingdom"?

Hokkaido, surrounded by the Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, and the Sea of Okhotsk, boasts over 200 fishing ports and the highest total catch of crab species in Japan (*). In addition, the crabs inhabiting the surrounding waters strive to protect themselves from the nutrient-rich cold currents that flow with the drift ice, resulting in a firm body and a store of kanimiso (crab tomalley). Growing in the frigid sea nurtures high-quality crab meat and rich kanimiso.

: From the "Hokkaido Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Statistics Yearbook Reiwa 3-4" by the Hokkaido Agricultural Administration Office

What types of crabs can you eat in Hokkaido? When is the best season?

The main crabs caught in the crab kingdom of Hokkaido are the "4 Major Crabs", namely King Crab (Tarabagani), Snow Crab (Zuwaigani), Hanasaki Crab (Hanasakigani), and Horsehair Crab (Kegani). Each has a different peak season, so you can enjoy fresh and delicious crabs whenever you visit.

Crab you can eat in Hokkaido ①: King Crab (Peak season: around January to May, and September to October)

Appearance:
Among crabs, it is large in size, characterized by a shell with fine thorn-like protrusions and eight thick legs. There are also individuals that exceed 1m when the legs are spread out.

Taste & Texture:
The legs are packed with meat that has a rich sweetness, providing an excellent eating experience. However, kanimiso is considered unsuitable for eating because it is oily, so it is mainly cooked after tomalley are removed.

Place of origin & Season:
Although it is landed throughout the year, the season for Hokkaido king crab is twice a year, around January to May and September to October. In particular, Wakkanai City and Wakkanai Fishing Port in northern Hokkaido are known for having the highest king crab landing volume in Japan.

Crab you can eat in Hokkaido ② Snow Crab (Season: Around March to May)

Appearance:
Characterized by a shell without spikes or hair and long, slender legs.

Taste & Texture:
The legs are packed with soft, flavorful meat, allowing you to enjoy its sweetness and smoothness.

Place of Origin & Season:
In Hokkaido, the season is from winter to early spring. Fishing is allowed from November, and the period from March to May, when nutrients brought by drift ice are stored, is considered the best time to eat.

※Zuwaigani (Snow Crab) is known by different names in different parts of Japan, such as "Matsubagani (Tottori Prefecture)" and "Echizengani (Fukui Prefecture)".

Crab you can eat in Hokkaido ③ Hanasaki Crab (Season: around July to September)

Appearance:
A brown crab covered in large spikes and a hard shell. When boiled, both the shell and flesh turn a vivid red, resembling a blooming flower, which is said to be the origin of its name (Hanasaki means blooming flower - Note: there are various theories about the origin of name).

Taste & Texture:
It has a firm flesh, allowing you to enjoy a plump texture and rich umami flavor. One of its characteristics is that you can feel each fiber of the crab meat when you put it in your mouth.

Place of Origin & Season:
The season is during the summer (from July to September). It is only caught in the eastern part of Hokkaido, around Nemuro, and the fishing season is relatively short from April to September, so it is highly valued as a "phantom crab".

Crab you can eat in Hokkaido ④: Horsehair Crab (Season: All year round)

Appearance:
A small-sized crab covered in hair all over its body, including its shell and legs. The body is rounded, the legs are short, and it has a hefty weight.

Taste & Texture:
The shell is filled with richly flavored crab tomalley (kanimiso), and the firm texture of the meat is characteristic.

Place of Origin & Season:
Caught all year round in Hokkaido, with the Sea of Okhotsk in spring, Funka Bay in summer, Nemuro coast and Kushiro in autumn, and Hidaka in winter. Among them, the "Sea Break Horsehair Crab (Drift Ice Break Horsehair Crab)" caught from late March to late April is exceptionally rich in both meat and kanimiso!

4 popular restaurants in Hokkaido/Sapporo where you can enjoy crab dishes in a course meal

From here, we will introduce four restaurants in Hokkaido/Sapporo that crab enthusiasts should visit at least once. They are easily accessible from Sapporo Station and Susukino Station, which serve as travel bases, and we have carefully selected places that can accommodate English menus.

Sapporo Kanihonke - Sapporo Station branch: Enjoy fresh crab kaiseki in a private room with a Japanese atmosphere♪

At "Sapporo Kanihonke - Sapporo Station branch", you can enjoy your meal in a private room filled with Japanese ambiance, served by staff in kimono.

The crab served in the restaurant mainly consists of three types: king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab. The crab ingredients, including hairy crabs from Hokkaido and the finest crabs from around the world, are all of such high quality that they can be eaten raw as sashimi. The restaurant offers dishes such as "Snow Crab & TORO Tuna Sashimi" (ズワイ・トロ流氷盛 / Zuwai-Toro Ryuhyo Mori), a sashimi of snow crab and tuna belly served with ice, and "Roasted King Crab and Snow Crab" (タラバ・ズワイの宝楽焼 / Taraba-Zuwai no Houraku-yaki), a dish of roasted crab served in a crab-shaped dish. One of their signature dishes is "Assorted Crab KANISUKI" (味くらべかにすき / Aji Kurabe Kani Suki), a combination of king crab and snow crab.

💡【Menu】English available (Planning to create a Chinese menu in the future)|【Official Website】English and Chinese available

Popular Menu ① at Sapporo Kanihonke: Kaiseki (Course Meal) - Takasago Course

Per person / 24,000 yen (tax included)

Course Content (10 dishes in total)

  1. Snow Crab & TORO Tuna Sashimi,
  2. Roasted King Crab and Snow Crab,
  3. King Crab Sushi & Crab Sushi roll (Thick),
  4. Fried King Crab Large Claw, & etc.

Popular Menu ② of Sapporo Kanihonke: KANISUKI (hotpot style) Course - Kinpa

22,000 yen (tax included)
*The image is for two people, but orders can be made from one person.

Course content (9 dishes in total)

  1. Assorted Crab KANISUKI (Hot-pot style),
  2. Snow Crab & TORO Tuna Sashimi,
  3. Butter roasted King Crab,
  4. Crab Tomalley Tofu, & etc.

  • Address: 2-1-18, Kita 3-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Business hours: 11:30 to 22:00
  • Closed: None (Only take-out products are sold on 12/31)
  • Access: About 5 minutes on foot from JR "Sapporo Station", immediately on foot from Sapporo Municipal Subway "Sapporo Station"
  • Official website: https://www.kani-honke.co.jp/

Hokkaido Kani-Shogun SAPPORO: A famous restaurant with a variety of courses such as crab hot pot and crab kaiseki

Located in Susukino, a bustling district representative of Hokkaido, "Hokkaido Kani-Shogun SAPPORO" offers dishes using three types of crab: king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab. The large crab sign, popular as a photo spot, is also a landmark.

In the calm atmosphere of the restaurant, reminiscent of a fishing port, you can enjoy a variety of crab dishes using carefully selected live crabs, such as the signature "crab sukiyaki" using a secret broth, and crab kaiseki course meal. The Sapporo main store offers a variety of courses filled with irresistible dishes for crab enthusiasts, led by the boiled horsehair crab kaiseki, which is exclusive to the Sapporo main store.

💡【Menu】English available|【Official Website】English, Chinese available

Popular Menu ① at Hokkaido Kani-Shogun SAPPORO: "Hamaton" Course with Whole Boiled Horsehair Crab and Snow Crab Sukiyaki (hotpot)

15,950 yen per person (tax included)
*The crab hotpot and rice porridge in the photo are for two people
*Exclusive menu at the SAPPORO main branch

Course Contents (10 dishes in total)

  1. Snow crab sashimi,
  2. Whole horsehair crab,
  3. Snow crab hotpot,
  4. Crab fried dumplingi, & etc.

Popular Menu ② at Hokkaido Kani-Shogun SAPPORO: Horsehair Crab Kaiseki "Nosappu"

12,100 yen per person (tax included)
*Exclusive menu at the SAPPORO main branch

Course Contents (11 dishes in total)

  1. Snow crab sashimi,
  2. Boiled horsehair crab (half body),
  3. Grilled crab tomalley,
  4. Snow crab small hotpot, etc.
  • Address: 2-14-6 Minami 4-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Business hours: 11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00
  • Closed: None
  • Access: About 2 minutes on foot from "Susukino Station" on the Sapporo Municipal Subway
  • Official website: http://www.kani-ya.co.jp/shogun/

Sapporo Kani-ya SAPPORO: A specialty store where you can compare and eat Horsehair Crab, Snow Crab, and Red King Crab

At "Sapporo Kani-ya SAPPORO", you can mainly enjoy three types of crabs: king crab, snow crab, and horsehair crab. It is one of the largest crab specialty restaurants in Hokkaido, with seven floors above ground and two floors underground.

In addition to a variety of course dishes using fresh and high-quality crabs, the restaurant is also popular for its "crab sukiyaki" using a secret broth that even local gourmets admire, as well as courses and banquet dishes that allow you to enjoy the delicate taste of crab. There are also luxurious courses where you can enjoy sushi and tempura along with a crab sukiyaki assortment (king crab and snow crab)!

💡【Menu】English Available|【Official Website】English, Chinese Available

Popular Menu ① at Sapporo Kani-ya SAPPORO: Whole Boiled King Crab Kaiseki Meal Course "Sahoro"

Per person / 17,600 yen (tax included)
※Exclusive menu at Sapporo Kani-ya SAPPORO branch

Course Contents (Total 10 dishes)

  1. Snowi crab sashimi,
  2. Whole boiled horsehair crab (one crab),
  3. Grilled king crab,
  4. Crab tempura, & etc.

Popular Menu ② at Sapporo Kani-ya SAPPORO: Taste Comparison Crab Sukiyaki Course "Nire"

Per person / 18,150 yen (tax included)
*The crab sukiyaki and rice porridge in the photo are for two people

Course content (11 dishes in total)

  1. Snow crab sashimi,
  2. Grilled king crab leg,
  3. Crab sukiyaki assortment,
  4. Crab tempura, & etc.
  • Address: 2-11, Minamin 4-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Access: About 2 minutes on foot from "Susukino Station" on the Sapporo Municipal Subway
  • Business hours: 11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00
  • Closed: None
  • Official website: http://www.kani-ya.co.jp/kani/

Kani and Hokkaido Cuisine Sekkatei: Enjoy the exquisite crab kaiseki in a high-class Japanese space

In the private rooms filled with the elegant atmosphere of traditional Japanese style, you can enjoy crab dishes using horsehair crab, king crab, and Hokkaido Matsuba crab (*) at "Kani and Hokkaido Cuisine Sekkatei", established in 1989.

The store mainly uses horsehair crabs from the best production areas of the season and king crabs from the Okhotsk coast, which have accumulated flavor in the extremely cold sea. The "Kani Shabu" of raw Hokkaido Matsuba crab, with its delicate and mellow taste, is a highly popular signature dish. "Hana no Mai", which offers horsehair crab, Hokkaido Matsuba crab, and live king crab, is the pinnacle course you must try when you come to Hokkaido!

*Hokkaido Matsuba Crab: Matsubagani, another name of snow crab, caught in Hokkaido

💡【Menu】Available in English and Chinese on the official website menu page|【Official Website】Supports English and Chinese

Popular Menu ① at Kani and Hokkaido Cuisine Sekkatei: Hana no Mai

Per person / 38,720 yen (tax included)
*Accepting from 2 people
*Reservation required the day before

Course content (10 dishes in total)

  1. Shabu-shabu with red king crab and Hokkaido Matsuba crab,
  2. Freshly-boiled horsehair crab served whole,
  3. Deep-fried crab shell,
  4. Hokkaido Matsuba crab tempura, & etc.

Popular Menu ② at Crab and Hokkaido Cuisine Sekkatei: Setsugetsufuka

Per person / 16,940 yen (tax included)
*The crab shabu in the photo is for 2 people

Course content (8 dishes in total)

  1. Horsehair crab (half body),
  2. King crab and Hokkaido Matsuba crab shabu,
  3. Teppou soup (miso soup with crab meat),
  4. Crab zosui (clear soup), etc.
  • Address: J-BOX Building Basement, 4-chome, Minami 3-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
  • Access: About 3 minutes on foot from "Susukino Station" on the Sapporo Municipal Subway
  • Business hours: 17:00 to 22:00
  • Closed: Wednesday
  • Official website: http://www.sekkatei.com/

Enjoy fresh crab dishes in Hokkaido!

Hokkaido, where you can enjoy delicious crabs all year round, is truly a paradise for crab enthusiasts! Plan your trip to Hokkaido during the season of your favorite crab, or enjoy the crab that is in season during your trip. Save this article before your next trip.



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