After dinner, we decided to have a nightcap at Sapporo Beer Garden before returning back to our hotel. This small detour became somewhat of a bizarre adventure for us. Firstly we followed the instructions on their website on “How to Get There” – Option 1 is to take Line #188 and Option 2 is to take Line #88. When we located the first bus stop, we realised that the bus frequency is minimally 30 mins per bus! *journey to the location is only about 10 mins*
So we went to search for another bus stop for Line #88. After a 5 minutes walk to locate “Sapporo Eki Mae” bus stop, the printed schedule on display did not indicate any bus timings after 8pm (I think). Just as we were about to consider a change of plans, we saw the Line #88 bus arriving! So happily we boarded the loop bus and were finally on our way to get our hands on the fresh brew.
Upon alighting at the Sapporo Beer Garden stop, we were thrown off our bearings again as we wandered around the premise. We felt that the compound felt like a park with children throwing snowballs in the small garden which was covered with snow, there was also a Sapporo star-shaped snow sculpture available for photo taking. There were several buildings at the premise but none of which looked like a “Beer Garden”. All the 5 different themes/buildings are Restaurants serving “Genghis Khan” (lamb BBQ) buffet. No way I’m going to go into the restaurant just to have a drink and come out having my clothes smell of BBQ!
However try as we might, we couldn’t find an area that looked like a pub for a casual drink…Eventually we walked into the Kassel Hall (one of the 5 dining areas) housed in the huge brick building with a BBQ menu displayed at the entrance. We asked if we could go in just for beer but not the buffet and the staff said “Yes“. They led us into the dining hall which was nothing like the “Beer Garden” that I was expecting.
The tables in the big hall were all laid out with a portable stove and the entire hall was filled with BBQ smell. I almost instantly regretted my decision. The staff then brought us several huge plastic coverings that we thought were aprons and we gestured that we are not here for the BBQ but only for drinks. Turned out that the plastic coverings were actually plastic bags for us to protect our bags and coats from the smell! Good thoughtful service, though it would be even better if they have lockers outside for diners to keep our coats instead of bringing it in.
We ordered the Sapporo Five Star draft beer which is only available at at the Bier Garten in Sapporo and an interesting Chocolate Beer. Initially I was apprehensive about tasting this sweet+bitter combination but this turned out to be rather enjoyable. In fact I had this all to myself and finished it all. The beer was creamy (think Kilkenny type) and mildly sweet.
Had I known earlier that this place is more of massive buffet restaurant than a “beer garden” or “beer hall” that I had thought it was, I would not have made this trip…But if you are looking for a place that serves “Genghis Khan” (lamb BBQ), this place is a good choice as they have 5 different restaurant themes within the compound ranging from a casual canteen feel to a more exclusive and fine-dining ambience. And the fact that their hotplate has the shape of Hokkaido island would be added-bonus for instagram worthy food shots.
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