The Sapporo Kani Honke “Beer Cave”

Summer is once more upon us and that means it is beer garden time!

The only problem with beer gardens is that the food is sometimes a bit dodgy and if inclement weather sets in then the night is a bust.

Luckily Sapporo Kanihonke in Sakae has an subterranean beer garden festively designed as an underground cave with a lake which contains crab and fish which you can eat freshly caught. It is an otherworldly experience.

I have visited a number of beer gardens during the summer in the Aichi area. My main concern has always been the quality of food on offer. Most, if not all, tend to provide greasy, low-grade beef or pork accompanied by a selection of stodge.

Often the beer is served in large glasses in which it quickly warms. But Kanihonke truly has the atmosphere and ambience of being in a cave in the depths of the ocean, so it is cool and the food is superior to anything I have ever been offered at a beer garden. The beer is icy cold and deeply refreshing, exactly what the doctor ordered to help us through this humidity.

There is a selection of seating options from tables, to counter seating which overlooks the indoor lake, tatami seating and private rooms for groups wishing to dine in more intimate surroundings.

You have the choice to select items from an a la carte menu featuring fresh salad, crab sashimi, crab dumplings, crab tempura and squid. I had never had the sashimi before, and was pleasantly surprised to find the meat tender and subtly sweet. It will certainly be on my list next time I go.

The dumplings were tiny packets of flavor cooked to perfection, each bite causing a taste explosion in the mouth. The tempura sushi was light and crisp and hit the spot.

Other delicacies include udon, crab croquet, prawns in chili sauce, crab gratin, tuna, scallops cooked in butter, and other tasty treats.

And of course they have lots of live crab! You can choose which crab you want including a choice between king snow and hair crab. The price depends on the size of the crab – some of which are quite large.

When we think of crab a number of adjectives spring to mind. We all know how cute they are, but they are also clever enough to have their skeletons on the outside! This means that all the succulent, flavorful meat is never bruised or damaged in any way. It is always in tiptop condition when feasted upon. The crab served at Kanihonke is no exception. When the skeleton is pierced the juice jumps right out, a clear indication that the crab is fresh. Other things to check are the level of activity of crabs in the tank, as well as their color and the right claw.

All of the Kanihonke crabs were in peak condition!

There are two very affordable all you can drink (nomihodai) courses for two hours featuring a drink menu of Super Dry Extra Cold Draft Beer, Sake, Shochu, Cocktails, Highballs, and Soft Drinks.

The ¥4,000 (¥4,320 incl tax) course includes: edamame, tofu, squid, salad of the day, fried chicken, sausages, sashimi platter, and udon.

The ¥5,000 (¥5,400 incl tax) course includes: edamame, tofu, squid, salad of the day, shrimp tempura, spring rolls, sashimi platter, crab and crab rolled sushi.

The restaurant has staff and menus available in English. The beer hall opens every night from 17:00 to 22:00 until the end of August. It is a veritable corner of undersea paradise in the heart of Sakae!

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