Eating my way through Sapporo | A Review of Sushi Mafia’s Sapporo Sushi Breakfast Tour

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Joining a food tour in Hokkaido, Japan is really a no brainer as the region is synonymous with freshest seafood. Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is a city full of culinary delights from tuna sashimi to king crabs to miso ramen to soft-served ice cream. While I was planning my trip to the city, joining a food tour was one of my non-negotiables. A quick search of “best seafood tour in Sapporo “on Google led me to Sushi Mafia, one of the top-rated food tours in Japan.
the freshest sashimi breakfast I've ever eaten!
About Sapporo Sushi Breakfast Tour
Sapporo Sushi Breakfast Tour by Sushi Mafia provides insider access to the wholesale area of Sapporo Fish Market. Here, you will see hundreds or maybe thousands of seafood on display ranging from crabs, fresh fish, octopus, lobsters, among others. This tour also provides access to the tuna auction area, where you can experience an exciting tuna auction and witness a complete tuna getting cut and filleted. After the market tour, you will get an intimate sushi breakfast by a veteran sushi master at a hidden sushi bar in Sapporo City.

First Stop: Wholesale Area of Sapporo Fish Market
Our call time was at 5:00 AM. The meeting place was the Mercure Hotel Sapporo, which was just a short walk from where I was staying. Masa-san and Sonoko-san, our tour guides, were already at the hotel lobby. Shortly after the guides found me, we were joined by two travelers (mother and daughter) from Singapore. We were a small group, which instantly guaranteed an intimate experience! Our guides hailed two cabs that took us to Sapporo Fish Market. It was freezing cold (it was -9 degrees C if I am not mistaken) that morning in Sapporo, that’s why the cab’s heater was a life-saver!
touring around the wholesale area
The tour started at the wholesale area of Sapporo Fish Market. Here, our guides Masa-san and Sonoko-san shared a bit of history of Hokkaido and general information about the market. I learned that eating fish and other seafood is an integral part of Japanese food culture. Then, we met our master sushi chef, Hori-san, who bought a large chunk of fresh tuna and other seafood for our breakfast later that morning.
this is where our sushi chef bought a huge chunk of fresh tuna
wide variety of fish and seafood can be found at the Sapporo Fish Market
CRABS.CRABS.CRABS.
I was so fascinated when I saw these humongous octopus heads and limbs (they are not called tentacles apparently haha)
We explored more of the wholesale area and saw a large variety of fresh fish and seafood. And you know what’s surprising? Even though we were completely surrounded by countless fish and seafood, it did not smell fishy at all! The only scent you will smell was the fresh scent of the ocean. Our guide, Masa-san said it was the true indication that the fish was fresh and the market was clean.

Second Stop: Inner Market of Sapporo Fish Market
Our second stop was the Inner Market of Sapporo Fish Market, where Tuna auctions are held every day. Here, our guides shared some interesting information about the tuna auction process. Our master sushi chef also shared some stories about tuna, which was translated to English by our helpful tour guides. Although most of the tunas on display were already successfully auctioned, our small group luckily got a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes.

Note: Tourists and locals normally cannot enter the inner market where auctions were held every day. Only the seafood middlemen and licensed buyers can go in. As part of the Sushi Mafia’s Sapporo Sushi Breakfast Tour, you can enjoy this priviledge as well. :)
these photos were taken inside the tuna storage area, which is normally off-limits to visitors
Arigato gozaimasu!
This friendly and accommodating seller allowed us to get in to the tuna section. According to Masa-san and Sonoko-san, it was also their first time to get inside! They said our chef is a loyal customer (suki in Filipino) of their fish stall so he gave us this exclusive privilege. He also answered a couple of questions from us and gave us interesting insights about tuna and the seafood industry in general.

Third Stop: Breakfast at a Sushi Studio in Sapporo City
The third and final stop of our food tour was at Sushi Mafia’s studio in downtown Sapporo. Our guides Masa-san and Sonoko-san led us to our table overlooking the chef’s preparation and cooking area. While our chef, Hori-san, was preparing our breakfast, he shared some stories about his journey as a sushi chef. Learning about all his accomplishments and seeing how passionate he is with Japanese cuisine, I felt so honored to be part of the tour. It wasn’t every day that you get a chance to meet a passionate and dedicated individual like Hori-san.
Hori-san prepapring our breakfast
look at that huge chunk of tuna!
fresh uni (sea urchins) 
After finishing our fresh salads with tofu, our sashimi plate was set before us. The sashimi breakfast prepared by master sushi chef, Hori-san, was excellent. The sashimi servings and the side dishes given were generous. Hori-san specially provided us several slices of tuna sashimi, salmon, sea urchin (uni in Japanese), sea cucumber, among others. Hokkaido steamed rice and steaming hot soup were also provided and available for unlimited refills!
Hori-san meticuluosly cut the tuna and salmon
 Literally a lifetime-worth of sashimi!
So how much does this plate cost? High-end restaurants, in Ginza for example, will charge you 10,000 yen (4,700 pesos)  to 30,000 yen (14,000 pesos). Pricey? Yes. But if you join Sushi Mafia tour, you will get this plate and many other things!
what a lovely sight!
happy tummy!
I felt bad that I left some tuna and salmon on my plate during breakfast, but my stomach was  full and satisfied that I didn’t bother eating anything for lunch! 

Overall Experience
I was expecting a market and breakfast tour of Sapporo but what I got out of it was so much more. The insider tour of Sapporo Fish Market and the sushi breakfast prepared by Master Chef were both excellent. The guides, Masa-san and Sonoko-san, were both friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. The master Chef Hori-san was truly a master of his craft. His passion and dedication to sushi and Japanese cuisine are truly commendable and inspiring. I’ve done a lot of tours in the past few years, and I can say that this tour was one of the best I’ve’ ever been on. Their tour price may be higher than others, but the quality of food and tour you will get is top-notch. If I ever find myself in Sapporo again, will I join another Sapporo Sushi Breakfast Tour? Definitely.
Hori-san and I after our breakfast tour :)
Tour cost: 208.98 USD per person (rates vary depending on the season)
Time: 5:30 AM to 8:00 AM
Meeting Place: At the lobby of your hotel (free pick up!)

About Sushi Mafia
Founded in 2014, Sushi Mafia by Ambigrum Japan strives to protect and promote the values of good sushi. By providing tours from morning markets to a hidden sushi bar manned by a veteran sushi master, Sushi Mafia aims to provide deeper understanding of not just the sushi, but also the Japanese way of life. Food tours are designed to provide an authentic, mouth-watering experience and to get you under the skin of Japanese food culture. Truly, sushi taste better when you know the backstory!

Useful Info
Sushi Mafia by Ambigrum Japan
Address: Sushi Mafia Lab, 2F 2-6-9, Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo, 104-0045, Japan
Official Website: https://www.sushi.hokkaido.jp/
Contact Number: +81-3-3216-7297
Email Address: info@sushimafia.co
Disclaimer: Sushi Mafia generously provided me a complimentary food tour in Sapporo. As always, the opinions expressed in my reviews are entirely my own.

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What do you think of this Market and Breakfast Tour? Have you done any similar food tours in the past? Would you consider this tour if you’re traveling in Sapporo?  I would love to hear your thoughts! Let’s chat down below!

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