Butahage: Serving Butadon Since 1934

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Obihiro Meibutsu Pork Loin Don (Large), $14.80

We have been to Hokkaido many times but have never visited Obihiro. The closest thing to Obihiro that we have encountered is the Buta Don which you can find throughout Japan. But, it is usually found on a menu alongside a gyudon or teriyaki chicken don. This is not the case for Butahage where Buta Don takes centre stage.

Butadon might seem like a simple dish of grilled pork on rice but, just like sushi, it is in the simple things that attention to detail matters. The quality of the pork loin, rice, secret sauce, and how it is grilled all contribute to a satisfying gustatory experience.

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Butadon was first created in Obihiro, Hokkaido

Butadon’s origins can be traced back to a restaurant in Obihiro City in the early 1930’s. As the story goes, a proprietor concocted a dish comprising a bowl of rice adorned with charcoal-grilled pork, drizzled with a sauce reminiscent of broiled eel. He had wanted to create a dish to provide a hearty meal for hardworking farmers and laborers toiling with vigor and sweat.

The original idea was to serve unagi don but eels were too expensive even back then. However, there was a thriving pig farming industry in the Tokachi region that ensured a ready and accessible supply of pork so Obihiro’s iconic Butadon was born which eventually attained widespread fame across Japan.

3rd Gen owner Hitoshi Yano san in front of Butahage restaurant in Obihiro, Hokkaido (Photos courtesy of Butahage)
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