“Zangi” Fried Chicken: Hokkaido Style Karaage

Zangi, a Hokkaido specialty, is fried chicken that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. With a name unique to Hokkaido, this dish is widely enjoyed at izakaya (Japanese style pubs) and as a home-style dish, and is a gem that symbolizes Hokkaido’s food culture. In this article, we will introduce the history of zangi, as well as recommended restaurants. We hope you will try zangi, which continues to be loved by locals and is a must-try when traveling in Hokkaido.


What is Zangi?

In Hokkaido, fried chicken (Karaage) is generally called “zangi”. Zangi is said to have originated in Kushiro, where a chicken restaurant in Kushiro City chopped up a whole chicken and deep fried it around 1955.

Compared to the common fried chicken, zangi is more seasoned. It is made by marinating chicken in a sweet and spicy soy sauce, garlic, and ginger-based sauce before frying. It is a staple menu item at restaurants and izakaya (Japanese style pubs) in Hokkaido, so it is a gourmet dish you should try at least once when you come to Hokkaido. There are two types of zangi: boneless and boned. The original zangi is boned chicken cut into chunks, but most zangi distributed in Hokkaido is boneless chicken, and more restaurants carry boneless zangi.

Karaage vs Zangi

Q, I understand about Zangi, but in the end, what is the difference between Zangi and Karaage (regular/classic fried chicken)?

A, The major difference between zangi and karaage is, without a doubt, the method of seasoning, and it is said that the key point is whether or not the chicken is seasoned. Zangi is made by seasoning chicken meat and then deep frying it. On the other hand, karaage is made by coating chicken with a thin layer of flour or potato starch and deep frying it in oil.

Note: However, nowadays, both karaage and zangi are seasoned differently by the people who make them, and since there are people who make karaage with seasoning, the criteria for distinguishing between the two are quite vague. Some people judge by their own criteria that strong flavor = zangi and light flavor = karaage, while others consider both as the same thing. This means that there is no satisfactory and clear answer to the difference between zangi and karaage, and the distinction is often rather subjective.

Why is it called “Zangi”?

It is theorized that the name ‘zangi’ originates from the Chinese term ‘zagi,’ which means fried chicken, with an ‘n’ signifying luck inserted between the letters.

What is Kushiro Style Zangi “Zantare”?

Zantare Set Meal

In Kushiro, the birthplace of zangi, the taste of sauce varies from restaurant to restaurant, but there is also an evolved version called “zantare,” which is zangi served with sweet and spicy sauce or mayonnaise-flavored sauce. The taste of zangi dipped in the original sauce is amazing! Nowadays, many restaurants in Kushiro offer zangi and zantare, and it has become a new specialty of Kushiro.

3 recommended restaurants where you can eat zangi

Hotei (中国料理 布袋 本店)

Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten (若鶏時代なると 本店)

Sapporo Zangi Hompo (札幌ザンギ本舗)

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