After watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode in the Ishikawa prefecture on the west coast Japan, I was properly enamored by what this rather unknown part of Japan, at least according to my ignorant tourist eyes, had to offer. It is not typically part of the standard tourist radar compared to Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, and the like. Slightly off the beaten path, but yet plenty to offer in terms of sights, and of course, food.
With much anticipation, and an approximate 2.5 hour journey via the speedy Shinkansen train, I made it to the understated but beautiful city of Kanazawa. It is home to Kenrokuen, one of the most magnificent gardens in all of Japan. And of course, one of the priorities of my trip, to experience the highly prized and immaculate seafood from this region. My local friend had recommended me one particular sushi-ya here called Otomezushi, which is well hidden beside a hostel and serves one of the best sushi that I’ve ever had, and at a fraction of the price of what one might pay in Tokyo.
Upon entering the cozy restaurant, the chef greeted me with a smile and seemed much more friendly than most chefs that I’ve encountered. I went for the omakase menu and just let the chef work his magic. And of course, I had a small bottle of Sake, as one always should when eating such immaculate pieces of sushi.
Some of my highlights was the local Ama Ebi, or sweet shrimp. Indeed it lives up to its namesake, and had a lovely natural sweetness, as well as a nice balance of firmness and softness.
Next, was a beautiful piece sushi with Snapper, which texturally had the perfect bite. Notably, the rice here isn’t as acidic as Harutaka’s or Jiro’s, but still worked very well and seemed to highlight the quality of the seafood just a tad more.
Oh, it’s so hard to go wrong with a good piece of Toro. This particular piece was quite exceptional, as it had the perfect fattiness that just dissolves in your mouth. Perfection in a bite, and I was hankering for more!
One of the local delicacies is the Nodoguro, or Black throat Perch. It’s such a savoury and meaty piece of fish, and can imagine why some of my Japanese mates rave about it so. This was definitely one of the best pieces of sushi I had during lunch.
Moving on, was Aji or Horse Mackerel. It had its characteristically rich and intense flavour, and was very tasty.
And of course, there’s Uni. This was a great example of Sea urchin, which had a burst of freshness and tasted of the sea without any intense fishiness. Another perfect bite of food.
The following sushi was Anago, which wasn’t as intensely sweet compared to others I’ve had, which seemed to highlight the texture and flavour of the Anago itself a bit more.
From here on out, the chef asked if we were full. Obviously being a bit of a glutton, I happily agreed to continue with a few more options. Totally no regrets, as I was greeted with a lovely piece of Botan Ebi, which I previously had at Noma Tokyo. The texture was great, and had a subtle natural sweetness to it.
And finally, a piece of Unagi, which had a nice charcoal smokiness and the perfect amount of sweetness.
I can’t imagine a better place to delve and immerse oneself into the culinary bounty of Kanazawa than Otomezushi. Immaculate pieces of sushi served with a friendly and convivial ambience, without any fuss and purely focusing on the edible pieces of art presented in front of you. Plus, you’ll be paying about a third of the price of Sushi Jiro or Harutaka, with some of the best seafood found in all of Japan. This is certainly one of the gems of Kanazawa, and worth that special journey. For reservations, you can call to reserve seats albeit only rudimentary English is spoken.
Location: 4-10 Kiguramachi Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan. +81-76-231-7447. Tabelog Website.