Hokkaido has a few speciality foods not found in other places in Japan, the first I tried was a lamb dish Jingisukhan. I’m not sure how this variation of the wildly popular Korean inspired table top barbecue called yakiniku came to be named after Genghis Khan, the most famous of all Mongolians.
I like yakiniku a lot, so this seemed like an easy to enjoy meal option and was happy to join the queue in the street for the hugely popular Sapporo central venue. The queue had moved little after 40 minutes I began to wonder if this was worth the wait, really how much do I like it? Yet I persevered, patiently biding my time. After 80 minutes I was seriously doubting this was going to be worth the wait, but had invested too much time to walk away, at least I was inside and no longer felt the chill I had endured outside. The last 20 minutes of waiting was especially torturous smelling the charcoal grilled meat while stood inside the small restaurant watching the diners eat.
As I sat down I knew no matter how tasty this meal was, it wasn’t going to be worth the wait. There was fire, lamb, beer, onions and kimchi, and as I watched the newly topped up coals releasing a few fiery sparks into the pile of onions that topped the domed shape grill I couldn’t help being enthusiastic about the meal I was about to have. I ate slowly, savouring the charred flavour I had waited so long to enjoy, cooking just a few slices of meat at a time.
As the flesh of the lamb charred on the hot steel I watched the lamb fat render, flowing down the domed lid towards the onions below, these I turned the onions as best I could, so they would caramelise slowly. There was occasionally a slight sizzle as I dunked the charred lamb into the waiting dipping sauce bowl, the chilli, soy and garlic flavours along with the blackened onion made excellent eating. As one of the plates of meat was spent another could be ordered, and although I didn’t require a vast amount of food, two plates of lamb was required to be able to eat so the onions and lamb would be completed at the same time.
I left the Jingisukhan restaurant with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth, with the genuine enjoyment of the meal experience I just completed not outweighing the negative connotations of the two hours I invested before I sat down. I am glad this meal happened in Sapporo, as it’s a city where my time wasn’t the precious commodity it had been in other cities.