Hokkaido's regional food includes excellent seafood, beef, lamb, corn on the cob, and potatoes. Dining out is generally much cheaper than in Tokyo and Osaka. Look for lunch and dinner tabehodai (all-you-can-eat) smorgasbords (called baikingu, from the word Viking; long story) ranging from ¥1,000 to ¥3,000. Many restaurants have picture menus or a visual display made of plastic in the window. Lead the waiter outside to the window display and point if necessary.
Outside the cities there may not be many dining choices in the evening, and many resort towns (where meals are included in hotel stays) may offer nothing but noodles and booze. Further, dinner reservations at guesthouses are required, and if you arrive without a reservation and are able to secure a room, you will generally have to eat elsewhere. Not to worry—you won’t starve: There are 24-hour convenience stores (konbini) in any Hokkaido settlement, where you can pick up a bento box lunch, sandwiches, or just about any amenity necessary. While large hot-spring hotels often have huge buffet dinners, the smaller guesthouses excel in food that is locally caught, raised, and picked. Given the overall high quality of dining throughout Japan, you probably won’t even need to leave your hotel to get a decent meal.