Tokachi Butadon Ippin, Sapporo

Japanese food is fantastic, but isn’t exactly the specialty of this blog. However, as we do like to cover our favorite places to eat, we bring you this review of our favorite of the butadon restaurants in Sapporo. This is Tokachi Butadon Ippin, Sapproro, located here in Sapporo station, which is likely the busiest place in all of Sapporo… the best city in the world.

Tokachi Butadon Ippin is on the 6th floor of Sapporo Station’s Stellar Place. It is one of several restaurant on the 6th floor, which is almost like a super-sized food court, offering real sit-down restaurants with food from China, from Korea, there is Italian food, many Japanese restaurants… a full range of food from gyoza to pizza. It’s a crowded place, packed with foreigners and visitors to the station. On a personal level, I think there are usually better places in Sapporo to eat than in Stellar Place, except for maybe…

Except for the fine Tokachi Butadon Ippin butadon. I love this place for a quick, simple, affordable, but very tasty meal. I have had 100 meals here. At least. After tonight we’ll call it 101.

What is “butadon.” The “don” part basically means rice bowl, and “buta” is the Japanese word for pork. This place is all about grilled pork, with a sweet sauce, typically served over rice. When butadon is well (and it often is), I would put it up there on the global scale with perfect, casual, but completely satisfying meals.

My love affair with butadon began in nibannomachi (which is, of course, Tokyo, a truly excellent city and a close second to our Sapporo) at a pork restaurant near Shibuya station. “In a past life,” I spent a lot of time in that neighborhood, and while it took me a little while to work up the courage to try that place (I wish I could find the name, I’d be happy to share it), when I did, it immediately felt like home. I’d stop in once or twice a week for a “stamina bowl” – which was butadon, but with some vegetables (maybe cabbage), and the pork came in large (probably pan- or wok-fried) pieces, with the ubiquitous egg cracked over the whole mess. I suppose I have a bigger appetite than most Japanese, but the portions at that restaurant were perfect for me. Add a big beer to that meal, and I was well fed and ready for bed. It became a common respite for my time in Tokyo.

It was with that unnamed pork palace in mind that I developed both a comfort with and a fondness for butadon. Here in Sapporo, Tokachi Butadon Ippin was both easy to find and could deliver on the comfort and delicious simplicity of butadon. Once I discovered it, it became a staple in my list of favorites.

(Hammering out this review, it seems inevitable that we will produce a “beat butadon in Sapporo” list. I won’t say that is a promise, but even still, it might be a safe bet.)

Butadon, so much butadon, and so many of their tall “bin biru” (bottled) Sapporo beer has gone down in this place. So many “hard days” ended in the comfort of pork and suds. I obviously have a fondness for “yo-shyo-ku” (Western food), but I enjoy very few places as much as I like Tokachi Butadon Ippin, Sapporo.

On this particular night, I had the experience to order the “Pork Plate Combo,” which shamelessly separates the pork and rice. I added the salad (cabbage, with a tangy dressing), I upgraded to the pork miso soup (which is bigger, and more hearty than the default-miso that typically comes with this set). And of course… sweet, delicious, sacred Sapporo beer, straight out of the bottle, like the unsophisticated animal that I am. Fantastic.

That meal pictured above was basically too much food for me (and a beer) for ¥2460. That isn’t rock bottom pricing, but that is a very good value for a comfortable place to sit, big meal, and tall beer. You could order the standard butadon and the same beer for under ¥2000.

After this particular, over-sized meal, I didn’t touch the rice. I was full (ee-pie desu yo). And I hadn’t been here in a while, and maybe that is why I forget to tell them to skip the rice (which I would have typically asked them to do).

Tokachi Butadon Ippin can be crowded. When I am desperate patient enough, I might wait 30+ minutes for a seat. Tonight, after 8 PM on a Sunday, I was lucky enough to have no wait at all. And they sat me down at the small singles counter, in a seat I have sat in dozens of times. It’s like home, but in Japan, and with lots of pork. Maybe it’s better than home, in some ways.

If you come here during popular times, expect a wait. If you can eat a little earlier or later, you get the same perfect meal with less hassle or delay. Perhaps they take reservations, but for me it isn’t that kind of place.

I am full and deeply satisfied. Stop by, and you too can begin (or extend) your butadon love affair.

Highly recommended.

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