Brrr… I braved the early morning cold and walked to the nearby 7-Eleven for my cannot do without milk tea and a bowl of steaming hot…
The oden was for my husband who cannot eat carbs. I had my fish cutlet sandwich bought last night.Well, I concluded that cold fish sandwich didn’t taste nice. Good thing I have a nice bottle of 7-Eleven Kirin milk tea to wash down the fishy taste. Talking about 7-Eleven, as I’m writing this post, 7-Eleven Singapore launched a Japanese treats campaign. I was looking forward to them bringing in great stuff like the milk tea, ice-cream and Ippudo New York cup noodles.But sadly, only these came. Once everyone was done with breakfast in their rooms, we walked to JR Sapporo Station for our first train ride of the trip.So the plan was:
- Alight at JR Minami-Otaru Station
- Walk to Marchen Crossroads and visit Otaru Music Box Museum Main Hall and Character House Yume-no-Oto
- Get souvenir cup from Gin no Kane
- Pop into Sakaimachi Post Office
- Check out the many LeTAO outlets (head store, Le Chocolat, Pathos, Cheese Cake Labo and Plus)
- Try cream puffs at Kitakaro
- Buy cuttlefish strips at Ika Taro
- Buy souvenirs from Yamabuki Shoten (T-shirts) and Fukuro
- Visit Kamaei fish paste factory
- Have lunch at either Toppi Sushi or Denuki-koji
- Have ice-cream at Kitano
- Explore the famous Otaru Canal. If possible, catch the evening light-up.
- Eat dinner at either Otaru Canal Cafeteria or Aburiyaki Ungasouko
- Take train from JR Otaru Station back to Sapporo
I wasn’t sure whether my plan was feasible or too ambitious. Anyhow, it’s always better to have a plan, at least for me. Read on to see if I managed to follow it through. But before that, some pictures taken from the train window on our way to Otaru.
As the train approached a station, my daughter who was counting the number of stations wanted to alight. I pulled her back because I distinctly heard the announcement that the next station was Minami-Otaru. Turned out my daughter was right. We missed our stop and ended up at JR Otaru Station. Sigh. My entire plan got turned upside down. The end point had become the start point. Well, I have learnt after so many free and easy trips to be flexible with my plans. Go with the flow and make the best out of everything, even boos boos like getting off the train one station late. So we walked down the main street, Chuodori, until we reached Otaru Canal where Chuo Bridge was. We followed the path alongside the canal to Asakusa Bridge.
Right across Asakusa Bridge was Denuji-koji, famous for eateries like Sawasaki sushi, Naruto fried chicken, Nikka whiskey, Popura Farm rock melon ice-cream, etc.The rest of the group weren’t hungry so they moved on to Sakaimachidori Shopping Street while my family tried the fried chicken.Naruto was the first of many food stops. As we walked on, each holding a piece of fried chicken, I spotted Otaru Canal Terminal and recalled that Amato main shop was situated inside. Read about this confectionery brand on kimi and good! hokkaido! so we went in to check it out.They served cakes and ice-cream and sold an array of cookies. We ordered a strawberry sundae so we could unload our bags and slowly explore the samples. Our favourite was the Marron Coron, three layered round cookies in an assortment of flavours. Samples were only available for the original flavour but since it was so good and the shop sold the other flavours in individual packs, we bought a few to try. We figured we could get them at New Chitose Airport. We did but only after asking the information desk where to get them. Apparently only one shop at the airport sold it – Kita Kitchen by Marui-Imai Departmental Store. The selection wasn’t as extensive as Otaru but we were glad they had our favourite flavours – matcha and red tea. One of the things I learned from this trip: If you see something you like, best to get it straight away. If not, ask the staff where else to find it.
Ok. Back to Otaru. Stepping out of Canal Terminal was the start of Sakaimachidori Shopping Street. We walked pass a few shops that sold glass ornaments. Then a promoter offered us samples outside this kelp shop. It was really good so we bought 2 packs. Moving on, something green caught our attention. Matcha! We entered the shop and there was like so many things we wanted to try – mochi, castella cake, soft-serve, drink. In the end we bought everything. The shop name was Sawawa. There’s an outlet in Nishiki Market, Kyoto but I didn’t recall seeing it when I visited.
Then it was LeTAO galore. Le Chocolat on one side of the street, Pathos and Plus on the other side. We sampled the famous Niagara Chocolat but it was way too sweet for us. At Pathos, we tried the Double Chocolate Fromage and the Original Fromage. We all preferred the original. There were lots more to try but we were experiencing a sugar high and craving for something savoury, so we headed out in search of Ika Taro and found it just two shops away from Le Chocolat. My older daughter sampled all kinds of cuttlefish until she settled for two she thought were the best.Right across Ika Taro was Rokkatei. Having visited its main store in Obihiro, we thought of giving it a miss but I read on a blog there’s a cafe with free coffee so we thought of taking a break there. Well, everyone seemed to think alike. It was so crowded and there was no empty table. We left and went next door to Kitakaro, home to baumkuchen, okaki (mochi rice crackers) and cream puffs.Not a fan of baumkuchen (I prefer kueh lapis), I went straight for the okaki samples. They were alright, some flavours more tasty than others but nothing spectacular. The real deal was further inside the shop where the cafe was, the one I was looking forward to try – cream puffs! There were three kinds to choose from and since I couldn’t read Japanese, I bought all three. Before we left Kitakaro, we tried the Otaru edition apple cake. It was so good that we wanted to buy a box but it had to be consumed within a few days. So we just ate more samples to savour the taste.Our plan to rest at Kitakaro failed as the seating area was limited so we took our cream puffs and went next door to LeTAO main shop.The cafe on the second floor was the perfect place to take a break from walking but definitely not eating. Just take a look at the menu. Cake and tea set! Who can resist?We ordered one amazing cheesecake set and a basic cake set to share and also polished off all the three cream puffs from Kitakaro.
After all the cream and cheese, it’s time to burn off the fats by visiting the Music Box Museum and Character House Yume-no-Oto. Final stop for the day was Gin no Kane. We couldn’t decide whether to go to No. 1 or No. 2. Both were crowded with China tourists. In the end, I just popped into No. 1 and bought souvenir cups without the cake set. After all the yummy desserts we ate, the slice of cake at Gin no Kane paled in comparison. I didn’t get to do all the things in my plan and there were other places to explore like Sankaku Market and North Canal. Unfortunately, we only had one day to spend in Otaru and the weather was just too cold to be walking outdoors for long. For future visits, might be good to stay over or go during warmer seasons.
Our return journey was via JR Minami-Otaru Station. The walk to the station was mostly uphill with nothing much to see. And the station was really small. Back at Sapporo, we split up. My family decided to try Butadon Ippin located at Stellar Place, which was highly recommended by friends.Verdict? Not as good as Pancho and the other two butadon places we tried. Read more about them in my butadon review. My husband figured the chef wasn’t generous enough with the sauce when grilling the meat. And since the shop sold the sauce, he bought a bottle to experiment cooking butadon at home.Tada! Our own version of butadon. Not as charred and the pork wasn’t from Tokachi but the taste was there. And it was yummier than Butahage butadon at Liang Court.