Kani-Honke かに本家, Sapporo

How could one visit Hokkaido and leave without trying their famous crab feast? For our last meal in Sapporo, we made reservation at Kani-Honke where they offer several courses with a variety of different crab species.  Kani-Honke has 2 locations within Sapporo city and each is housed in a multi-storey building. Despite their large seating capacity, their restaurants were almost fully booked when we made our reservations about 1.5 months in advance, perhaps due to the influx of visitors during the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Although our offered seating time was earlier than our preferred dining time, we were glad to accept the only available slot at Susukino (one of the major red-light districts/entertainment area in Japan).  Even at 6pm, the sky was already dark and Susukino was already lit up by the bright neon lights. However the ambience in the restaurant was totally different from the streets. Once we step into the lobby of the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by kimono-clad staff and led to our private dining room with traditional Japanese set-up.

From their website we saw the minimum price for course menu was ¥6,700 per order. Upon further clarification with the staff, they explained that the price for per order is for 1 pax, and they require a minimum order of 2 pax for the same course. We went with the Gin no Mai (Silver Dance) at ¥10,000 per pax since we would very much like to try the “King Crab Steak” aka Grilled Crab Leg which is only included in this higher priced course.

The dinner commenced with 3 types of appetizers, followed by Crab Paste Miso platter, Vinegar marinated King crab & Hairy crab, Seaweed with Grated Yam Paste, close up shot of “Crab Paste Miso” to be added to the Kani Suki and Crab “SASHIMI” on ice. (photo order starting from top left, then counter-clockwise)

The Crab Paste Miso (the greyish green stuff) was something new to us. Apparently after some googling it is whatever is left after all the white meat is taken out of the crab – a concoction of internal organs such as livers and pancreas, intestines and a little bit of the brain.

In the collage of crab meat photos, there were several types of crabs: Snow Crab, Hairy Crab and King Crab with varying preparation methods. They were all really fresh crab meat but none of it left a wow effect on me.

We found two dishes that were more satisfying. One of which was the Kani Suki which used  Snow Crab’s legs as key ingredients along with servings of tofu, cabbage, seaweeds etc.

The item that we were really looking forward to – Grilled King Crab Legs came last. The succulent crab meat was the highlight of the meal. I would have loved it more if they could let us grill it on a shichirin (Japanese earthenware charcoal stove) ourselves.

After we finished the Sukiyaki ingredients the staff added rice to the remaining crab stock to transform it into Porridge with Crab Meat. After the rice had a good soak in the stock from the sukiyaki, an egg was added to the boiling pot together with some shredded crab meat to turn it into the final product. The egg crab porridge topped with shredded seaweed was served with pickles. The porridge was filled with essence of the fresh crab meat cooked earlier and was a luxurious upgrade for the otherwise simple comfort food.

We heaved a sigh of relief when we finally saw the dessert of Musk Melon presented at the end of our 2-hour meal.

Seriously even as crab lovers, we found the crab feast overwhelming…There were simply too many variations and too many small items to eat. In honesty we did not feel “shiok” after the meal. We felt we could have made do with the Kani Suki and the Grilled King Crab Legs and would feel just as satisfied without having to go through the whole crab feast.

I guess most people list Crab Feast as a “must-do” activity when visiting Hokkaido. For me once is enough just to check that item off my list…It is not something that I would try again if I visit Hokkaido next time – not the full works, but I’m always open to enjoying fresh crabs!

Earlier Photos Taken:

Caught some ski-jumping performance at Odori Park that started at 5pm. Yes, the sky was totally dark by then in winter…

They were an enthusiastic bunch of school boys and girls, with the exception of 1 uncle aged around 40. When the MC introduced the uncle, the crowd gave him a thunderous applause, perhaps like me, we were impressed by his courageous effort to perform these high-risk stuns given his age.

As with many other elaborated celebrations in Japan and cashing in on the consumerism opportunities, they  introduced limited edition Coca Cola cans to commemorate the 12 days of Sapporo Snow Festival.

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