After an eventful and busy few days in Kyoto, it was nice to visit Kanazawa, a less touristy city with old-world charm.
We stayed at the square hotel, a modern hotel that was centrally located and had one of the largest rooms during our stay in Japan (most hotel rooms are very small compared to Western standards).
We arrived in Kanazawa right before our lunch reservation at Komatsu Yasuke, a well-known sushi restaurant hidden in a small building complex that’s only open during the day. Legendary chef Kazuo Morita still works service at the age of 89, truly remarkable!
Since Komatsu Yasuke is only open for lunch with 3 seatings back to back, their omakase menu is short. Without a doubt, the highlight of the meal was their signature grilled eel and cucumber roll, so incredibly delicious!
Komatsu Yasuke served simply fresh sushi at a reasonable price. Watching chef Morita work at his age while having so much joy was truly a one of a kind experience so my rating is a 8/10.
We wanted something sweet after lunch and there was a dessert shop near our hotel so we got an ice cream parfait with fruit and strawberry shortcake. Yum!
Since we had been exploring non-stop for a few days, we relaxed in our hotel room before dinner. We went to a popular ramen shop called Menyataiga where lines are inevitable since it’s a small restaurant. The noodles were bomb and definitely hit the spot for a cold rainy night. Highly recommend!
The following morning, we explored Omicho Fish Market where there’s a plethora of seafood vendors as well as other food stalls. We got some delicious fresh fruit (pineapple and melon) at the fruit stall.
We walked to Higashi Chaya, a historic entertainment area with teahouses and geisha performances. Typically this area would be filled with tourists but the streets were quiet and serene.
We stopped by a more “modern” coffee/tea shop, Sabo Soshin, for some afternoon sweets.
While walking to Oyama Shrine, we ran into a 17 year old Shiba Inu!
Next, we went to Kanazawa Castle Park where the castle dates back to 1583.
Without a doubt, the city’s most popular tourist destination is Kenroku-en, a breathtakingly beautiful garden within the castle grounds dating back to the Edo period. It’s known as one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan (other two are Koraku-en in Okayama and Kairaku-en in Mito).
We ended the day by visiting the Nagamachi neighborhood, a former village of Samurai residences, and Nishi Chaya, another historic teahouse district.
One of our favorite meals of our entire trip was Fuwari, a popular izakaya restaurant. Izakaya restaurants are great since it’s basically Japanese tapas so you can taste a lot of different dishes.
Slices of grilled pork belly had such intense delicious porky flavor. The beef was also grilled and was seasoned with fresh shiso leaves and topped with melted cheese. Both winners.
Japanese are masters of pickling vegetables and these didn’t disappoint.
These wings were off the hook, crispy and juicy. So good.
Tender succulent pieces of grilled chicken thigh. Simple yet satisfying.
Since we ordered a lot of various meats, we felt the urge to order some vegetables!
There’s something magical about grilled eel. It’s sweet, tender, and just an umami bomb.
I loved this mackerel pressed sushi. Tender mackerel with shiso and vinegar made the perfect bite with the rice. I could have easily eaten the whole dish to myself.
A tasty croquette especially with tonkatsu sauce.
I love zaru soba and this was delicious! Chewy noodles with wasabi and nori meant to be dipped into the sauce. It hit the spot.
Scallops were perfumed with fragrant garlic and nori. Another simple dish executed well.
What we loved about Fuwari was its unpretentiousness. All the dishes might look simple but every flavor was spot on and everything was cooked to perfection. My rating is a 8.5-9/10.
Kanazawa was a nice break from the larger cities we had been visiting in the beginning of our trip. Is it a must for a first time traveler to Japan? Probably not but if you are returning to the country, I definitely recommend it!