Why the Name "Jingisukan"?
Firstly, you might be wondering, why that name? Here's an attempt at answering that question. No one knows for sure why this dish has the name of the famous mighty Mongolian emperor but according to one theory, the convex metal skillet used for grilling the mutton and vegetables resembles a traditional Mongolian soldier's helmet. Furthermore, lamb is seen as a Mongolian meat and is not frequently eaten in the rest of Japan.
What Is It?
The dish is basically a type of yakiniku using grilled lamb on this Mongolia helmet-shaped skillet. Vegetables are also added to the grill. The fat of the lamb which is placed at the center of the skill drizzles down towards the edges where the veggies are placed. The dish is served often with various dipping sauces. Soy-based sauces with garlic are very common.
Jingisukan Daruma 6.4 (Daruma Rokuyon)
This is one of the most popular and delicious restaurants for jingisukan in Sapporo! It goes by the name Daruma Rokuyon in Japanese. Mention that to anyone in Sapporo and they should know what you are talking about because it's that popular. It's located a 3-minute walk from the subway Namboku Line Susukino Station. English menus are available and it is open until late at night (5 AM).
The Jingisukan at this famous shop is tender and succulent. The shop uses a variety of superior cuts of lamb which changes with the seasons. You should definitely try the special cuts! They are offered on a first come first served basis so the best cuts might be sold out if you go late at night. The regular meat is still great, however, and the soy-based garlic dipping sauce makes every bite heavenly. You should also try the very popular Chanja (spicy cod fish dish) here as an appetizer. Expect to pay 2000 to 3000 yen for an outstanding jingisukan meal.
Sapporo Beer Garden (Sapporo Biruen Jingisukan Hall)
The Sapporo Beer Garden is an excellent place to try the jingisukan. It is right next to the Sapporo Beer Museum, so it's a good idea to go there after visiting the museum. You can then have the famous Sapporo beer while you eat your jingisukan. The place is huge with a 2000 people seating capacity and the atmosphere is a bit medieval-like, which goes well with a jingisukan meal!
Go there for some all-you-can-eat jingisukan. The price is around 3,000 yen and the quality is reliably excellent. For just an extra 1,000 yen, you can add an all-you-can-drink option as well. There is a time limit of 100 minutes, however. But still, this price is difficult to beat for the quality you get. Also, the place is famous for serving Hokkaido crab. An all-you-can-eat option for crab is available as well.
This jingisukan yakiniku is extremely popular with the locals which is always a good sign. It has the typical friendly atmosphere of a Japanese tavern-like eatery. Many people will be crowding the counters here. It is located a 3-minute walk from the Shiseikan Elementary School Station.
This place also has delicious jingisukan meat but what makes it distinct is the home-made sauce that has a perfect balance of various spices including cinnamon which goes extremely well with the meat. Once you're done eating the grilled items, tea will be added to your sauce to make it a soup. The perfect way to finish a jingisukan meal at this famous Sapporo restaurant.
Another one of the best is Fukuroutei. People recognize the name of this well-established jingisukan restaurant. It is a pretty big restaurant with 14 tables. It is located at an 8-minute walk from the Nakajima Park Station.
The excellent lamb served here is from Australia. The high-grade shoulder cuts have the good balance of fat and lean meat. While being grilled, it makes a nice smell that is not overly strong. Some people complain that the smell of grilled lamb is too strong. It's not the case with this Australian meat. As is the case for many exceptional jingisukan restaurant, the secret to their success is in the sauce. At Fukuroutei it is carefully made from 18 different ingredients. Try any lamb cut and also the garlicky lamb sausages and you won't be disappointed.
Menyotei Gojo is another great jingisukan restaurant beloved by the locals. It is open late (3 AM), so it's a good place to go for an after-drinking meal. It is located a 3-minute walk from the Susukino Station.
High-grade charcoal is used for grilling. The slices of lamb are thicker than what you get at the average jingisukan restaurant in Sapporo, yet the meat is very tender and succulent. There is a selection of great lamb cuts that are with or without the bones. The vegetables here also include Chinese leeks that go very well with the lamb meat and are said to give you energy.
Itadakimasu is another great place with rave reviews where you can have amazing jingisukan. Unlike many other jingisukan restaurants, this place is open during lunchtime as well. It is located approximately a 4-minute walk from the Susukino Station.
The owners of Itadakimasu raise their own lambs right there in Hokkaido. So not only are you eating a delicious meal, but you are also encouraging local production and you can be sure that the pure-bred Suffolk lamb meat will be fresh. They have delicious sauces but just eating the meat with salt and pepper is sufficiently good. When the basic ingredients are of superior quality, they don't need much dressing up.
When in Hokkaido, you must absolutely try the Sapporo jingisukan! Lamb is not so much part of the general Japanese cuisine so the jingisukan really stands out as an amazing addition to it!