Photos by Nano Betts
Photos by Nano Betts

Places to Eat in Kanazawa

by Nano Betts
travelwithnano.com

Bountiful produce coupled with the wizardry of local chefs have earned Kanazawa a world-wide reputation as one of the best culinary destinations in Japan. Due to the high quality of water and soil, the region is blessed with exceptionally tasty vegetables and rice. This, alongside an ample supply of fresh seafood caught in the Sea of Japan, provides for an exciting dining scene.

Just like its cultural life, Kanazawa’s food scene fuses old and new. On one hand, you have well-established and revered traditionalists who serve local haute cuisine – Kaga cuisine. On the other, the city is home to a new wave of creative chefs which impress with their modern techniques and innovative approach. The choice of restaurants in Kanazawa is broad and there is something for every budget. While I only had two days to indulge, there were a few memorable food experiences I had and cannot wait to share. I focused on simple, no-fuss eats which showcased the best this city has to offer.

So, here are a few of my restaurant recommendations which will give you a wonderful taste of Kanazawa.

Maimon Sushi at Kanazawa Station

This little spot seats only 12 customers and is a perfect spot to have a tasty lunch upon arrival or right before you leave the city. The chef is very welcoming and the menu features a variety of sushi sets you can pick from (look out for a gold leaf sushi!). This shop is actually a branch of a larger Maimon Sushi Honten which is frequented by locals and visitors alike. It should also be noted that Kanazawa Station (just like any major station in Japan) has a wonderful variety of affordable restaurants that cater to any taste. There are casual cafes, ramen, and tempura joints and much more in case you don’t feel like eating sushi. It’s always a reliable place to find a quick bite during your travels.

Ikiikitei at Omicho Market

Omicho market is referred to as Kanazawa’s kitchen due to the abundance of fresh produce and seafood on sale. You can peruse the stalls and pick food that strikes your fancy. Several of the seafood stalls also double as humble restaurants where you can have a sushi or sashimi breakfast. I tried a couple of spots, but couldn’t rave enough about Ikiikitei.

This seemingly unassuming, dinky and quite cozy joint is run by a chatty mother and her not-so-chatty son, who serve some of the best seafood on the market. The classic sashimi served atop rice was delicious. Although it was their buri daikon – fatty yellowtail and daikon radish – simmered for hours in a seasoned broth is what I still cannot get out of my head. It was the simplest Japanese dish, yet their bowl was incredibly aromatic, rich and totally umami-licious. The daikon was like a sponge that soaked up all the savory flavors of the broth, while the fish just fell off the giant bones. You can tell, I absolutely loved it, can’t you? Ikiikitei is also known for its sea urchin, which was good, but a bit overpriced in my opinion.

The line at this spot is notoriously long and they tend to sell out on certain ingredients fast, so I recommend you show up around opening time (7 a.m..). Please mind that they are closed on Thursdays.

Address: Ikiikitei, 88 Aokusamachi Kanazawa-shi

Modern Izakaya Fuwari

I absolutely loved this place for the electrifying vibe and mouthwatering food. As you approach the restaurant at dinnertime, you’re greeted with warm light and a very cheerful buzz seeping through the typified wooden façade of the machiya it is housed in.

My friend and I were seated by the counter and observed the frantic dynamic in the kitchen. Despite impressive a la carte selection and a tasting menu, it didn’t take us long to discover that the English menu didn’t include all that the chef had to offer (a quite typical occurrence in Japan, by the way) so we decided to simply point at everything we found appetizing and ended up ordering over a dozen different starters and dishes, all of which was fantastic.

I later found out that the restaurant is in fact helmed by Chef Ippei Matsumura who spent a decade working in Nobu NYC. He was laser-focused on putting each dish together, yet found time to socialize with guests who were seated at the counter. The bigger interest we expressed in the food he was cooking, more excited he got in suggesting other, off-the-menu items. Every dish is made with local ingredients and packs a punch from the beautiful flavor combinations. It truly is one of the top dinners I’ve had in Japan and should not be missed if you’re visiting Kanazawa. Sake pairing is equally outstanding. Everything is very reasonably priced. Make sure you book a table in advance!

Address: Fuwari, 2 Chome-6-57 Owaricho, Kanazawa, +81-76-207-3417

Modern Izakaya Plat Home

This restaurant came highly recommended by my friends at Arigatou Japan and I was not disappointed. The chef puts an innovative twist on classic izakaya food. Each plate is beautifully presented and the menu changes daily based on the availability of fresh local produce. The tuna and avocado with seaweed is one of the most popular appetizers. I also recommend the sashimi, the prosciutto with bacon and potato salad. I really enjoyed the modern ambiance of the place as well, a very nice spot for a pleasant dinner in Kanazawa.

Address: Plat Home, 1 Chome-3-4 Hikosomachi Kanazawa-shi Ishikawa-ken, +81-76-256-5075

Hope you enjoyed these recommendations and will get to try some of it out when you visit Kanazawa!

xoxo, nano

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