it was haha and my first night back in sapporo and we were looking to get something different into our bellies. i woke up that morning in asahikawa and told myself to start cutting down on deep fried food so we decided to look for some chinese options that included rice, sauce and some form of meat/tofu. i found a small eatery called chinese cuisine hotei in the odori area that serves mapo tofu combos with some pretty good chicken karaage (hey, i can share a few pieces right?), about a 20 minute walk from the university district that we were staying in. so we set out on our trek for food.
the airbnb unit we were renting for two nights came equipped with a portable wifi router so we brought that along with us for some help. as we exited the odori subway station, we got turned around in the dark and gps navigated us to go east. i think that this was a sign that we should have stayed in sapporo this whole trip because as we were walking towards our gps destination, i had forgotten that my phone was navigating us to a recently searched for hotel in the same area. as we passed the various storefronts we stopped to take a look at a chef that was dumping copious amounts of chicken into two vats of oil. we made it, without even knowing we made it. high-five!
inside we go and it’s a very small and unassuming restaurant. two long tables and a bar, big enough for 20-25 people at capacity. i think they had a back area but as you’ll find out shortly, i had my hands full. there is also a bookshelf full of manga that you can help yourself to.
we have a quick glance at the menu, i think about my self-imposed semi-restricted diet and that goes out the window as we watch the three people at the counter get served their dishes. every one of them has huge plates of chicken with the skinny girl receiving a larger plate than the two businessmen next to her. i want the mabo noodles but i feel like a fool to miss out the chicken.
i cave and order the chicken set a (rice & 7 pieces of karaage) and haha orders chicken set b (rice, 5 pieces of chicken and mabo tofu) with a cold kirin to celebrate our triumphant return to being able to navigate cities once again.
and then things get real:
my initial thoughts are that these pieces are big. ridiculously big. 5 pieces looks like a feast, i have no idea who in the right mind eats 7 of these and walks out feeling good about themselves.
juicy, salty, crunchy… you can break the crispy chunks of skin off the side or bite through the whole piece to get some meat with it. i feel like i’ve tried numerous options and by now i’ve only had two pieces. each piece is so awesomely moist. each table also has a large dipping sauce container for you to help yourself to their vinegar & green onion dipping sauce (and maybe ponzu) that i’d liken to how the alibi room in vancouver serves their wings. tangy, salty, crunchy heaven. this is karaage on steroids (possibly literally).
we work through both of our plates, laughing to each other that this signifies the end of our aeon mall dinner streak 😀 we reach a point where we are stuffed beyond imagination and between us we still have three pieces of chicken left. i grudgingly take on another piece and stop myself from eating the last one from my plate before i inflict permanent damage on my innards.
by the way, the skinny girl eating alone at the counter did indeed clean her plate of all 7 pieces. much respect👊
chinese retaurant hotei
9-1 Minami 1-jo Nishi, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-0061