Isn’t Ramen the Japanese after drinking food?! No, Not in Hokkaido. We do “Shime Parfait”!
Going to Diner after drinking is a culture in America. Just like that, Japan has the culture of “Shime no Ramen” where we go eat ramen after drinking. In Sapporo, Hokkaido, Miso Ramen is one of their popular dishes so you would think people eat Miso Ramen as “Shime (to end)” after a night of drinking, but surprisingly we found out that people in Sapporo nowadays finish with a cold and sweet parfait instead. It is a new local culture that came recently called “Sapporo Shime Parfait”. “Shime” is to close or to end and “Parfait” is the general parfait you would see anywhere else. The word originally came from French meaning “perfect”. In France, parfait is a frozen dessert made with egg yolk and sugar, but here in Japan, they are commonly made with fruits and whipped cream.
You would think, sweets after drinks? Why was this culture born in Sapporo? To find the answer, we flew over to Sapporo, Hokkaido and heard the truth from “Sapporo Shime Parfait promotion committee”.
“Sweets at night” culture had roots in Sapporo for long time
We were taken to the first street of TANUKI KOJI, an Arcade shopping street in the middle of Sapporo. In a group of Japanese cuisine restaurants, we saw an ice cream display which seemed rather odd to be in such a place.
This place with an ice cream display is a shop of Hitoshi Kobayashi from “Sapporo Shime Parfait promotion committee” called “Parfait, Coffee and Sake SATO”. The store was beautifully designed and here, you can enjoy light meals, all kind of deserts including parfaits, coffee and even alcohol.
Mr. Kobayashi is the President of Design Production Arica Design in Sapporo. He mainly works with the local companies and help them with branding and promotions. The reason why he started this business is because one of his friends asked him for PR help.
“The help my friend asked me for help coincidently was about parfait. Eating sweets at night has always had roots in Sapporo. So, I decided to make this nameless culture into our local culture. That is how we started “Sapporo Shime Parfait promotion committee”.
According to Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Statistics Bureau Household Survey from 2016 to 2108 which Mr. Kobayashi has told us, Sapporo ranks 4th in alcohol consumption and ranks 6th in sweets consumption per household in Japan. In areas where they have cold weathers, they tend to keep indoors warm at all times, so it is a common trend to eat something cold like ice creams in the winter and drink alcohol and Sapporo is no exception.
“First I wanted to spread the word about how “Shime Parfait” is a Sapporo’s unique culture of Hokkaido so I chose local TV programs and town magazines in Hokkaido for the first year. After a year, I started approaching to domestic TV programs, magazines and newspapers outside of Hokkaido. There, I had more interview requests than I expected. The explosive epidemic of Instagram also helped our promotion. Instagram posts of locals and people visiting from within Hokkaido spread fast so we naturally started approaching foreign media and made English site as well.”
From “Sapporo’s food culture” to “Japanese food culture”
“Parfait, Coffee and Sake SATO” is a shop that was opened during promoting “Sapporo Shime Parfait” culture. From interior to ice cream and sorbet, everything in the store is carefully handmade and it offers a new sense of parfait that takes into consideration the compatibility with alcohol.
We chose one of their recommendation, “Salt Caramel and Pistachios coffee, cassis or butterfly bee”. Salt caramel ice cream is carefully made from burning the caramel in the store. And it comes with pistachio ice cream, coffee and cassis mousse and herb jelly, butterfly bee. It is beautifully decorated on a cocktail glass.
Rich ice cream with amazing balance of sweetness and salt definitely goes with alcohol! The smooth texture of ice cream is made by the store effort to put little stabilizer as possible when making ice cream. By doing so, the ice cream melts crisply and gives a refreshing taste. The last apple’s jelly is sour and refreshing as well. Yum!
There are currently 26 stores registered with “Sapporo Shime Parfait promotion committee”. They are the only ones who are able to raise “Shime Parfait” sign as it is registered trademark but there are still many stores who offers parfait for late night snacks.
“It was commonly under 1,000 JPY at first, but nowadays the unit price seems to go up to 1,500 – 2,000JPY. Stores started to increase the quality of ingredients such as fruits, offer customizable parfait or make is entertainable to look photogenic.
Mr. Kobayashi defines “Shime Parfait” as “Parfait for the end of the day” that everyone can smile and enjoy. Like people from who has been drinking to family with kids. Maybe we could describe “Shime Parfait” as something you “experience” not just for eating.
“The word “Parfait” originally comes from “perfect” in French. And Japanese parfaits originated from American sundaes. Japan is the country with high editing ability. Like how Chinese born ramen was edited in Japan to become a worldwide known Japanese culture, I see many opportunities for foreign born parfaits becoming Japanese culture that people in the world recognize and can enjoy.”
Store name: Parfait, Coffee and Sake SATO
Address: 1F Kowa Building 1-6-1 West 2 Jyo, Chuo-ku South, Sapporo, Japan
Business hours: Tue-Thu 18:00 to 24:00, Fri 18:00 to 26:00, Sat 13:00 to 16:00, 18:00 to 26:00, Sun 13:00 to 16:00, 18:00 to 24:00
Holidays: Mondays (excluding national holidays)
Store name: Parfait, Coffee and Sake SASAKI
Address: B1F Asuka Building 1-8-2 West 2 Jyo, Chuo-ku South, Sapporo, Japan
Business hours: 18:00 to 24:00, Fri, Sat and a day before national holidays 18:00 to 26:00
Holidays: Tuesdays (When a Tuesday is a national holiday, the day after the national holiday will be the store holiday)
Pioneer café of “Shime Parfait” culture
Cafe that triggered Mr. Kobayashi to establish “Sapporo Shime Parfait promotion committee” is called “MIRAI. ST cafe & kitchen” in Susukino, Sapporo, run by CRYPTON FUTURE MEDIA, INC, the company who developed Hatsune Miku, the pioneer of vocaloids.
They moved to near a historic monument, Sapporo Clock Tower in June, 2019 and rebranded their store as “MIRAI. ST”. The interior is unified in blue and the most crowded time is after 21:00.
“We originally offered soft-serve milk ice cream using Brown Swiss cattle milk raised in Shibecha, Hokkaido. Their milk contains a lot of fat which gives a very rich taste. We wanted to spread the words about the deliciousness of this ice cream and asked Mr. Kobayashi for PR help. Then the idea of offering it as parfait and establishing “Sapporo Shime Parfait promotion committee” came up so we gathered local cafes and restaurants offering parfaits to participate in making a new food culture from Sapporo.” Says Ryota Hattori from CRYPTON FUTURE MEDIA, INC.
Since they opened their first shop in Susukino, Sapporo, customers tend to come after dinner so we could tell that there were already see the sign of “Shime Parfait” culture but it was just nameless. “Since I was a university student, we used to do eat sweets after drinking says the store manager, Minami Kadono. The disappearing culture of managers taking younger colleagues to drinks has probably replaced eating sweets and parfaits with colleagues.”
The parfait in the picture above is “Two kinds oranges and Chocolate Parfait”. Underneath the delicate candy craft, I saw slices of mandarin orange and blood orange ice cream. And beneath those layers, there were chocolate chip and nuts brownies and Brown Swiss cattle milk ice cream with blood orange sauce. Each bite gave me a whole new taste and even though it was my second parfait today, I cleaned my plate in seconds.
MIRAIST also has food menus. They have menus using meat and vegetables from Hokkaido like “Baked three kinds of potatoes from Hokkaido”, “Sausage platter of venison and pork from Hokkaido”. They also taken another French culture, apéro where people go for pre-dinner drinks and have “apéro set” and “apéro and parfait set”
“We think it is possible to contribute to the 6th industrialization by using seasonal ingredients from Hokkaido and by adding value from urban feeling of Sapporo.” says Mr. Hattori. “Since there are more and more shops with special features, I would like to work hard and excite the “Shime Parfait” culture. Area between Odori Station and Sapporo Station is where our shop is located and is convenient for tourists because the famous tourist spot like Odori Park and the clock tower are nearby. But there are still few “Shime Parfait” shops in this area. I keep on promoting our “Shime Parfait” culture of Hokkaido actively so this culture comes naturally to tourists like eating parfait before they go out to town or come for a break during their sightseeing tour.”
Store name: MIRAIST
Address: Shikijima Kita 1 Jyo Building B1F 3-3 West 1 Jyo, Chuo-ku North, Sapporo, Japan
Business hours: Mon – Thu 11:30 to 23:00, Fri, Sat 11:30 to 21:00
- Atsuko Mitsuhashi
- Kotaro Chiaki
SHOYU Editorial department(SHOYU Editorial department)