Postcard from Kanazawa (Guest Post)

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Postcard from Kanazawa

If Roti n Rice was likened to a Japanese inn, then Ro-Ri San would be the “caretaker” providing quiet support and keeping things moving smoothly along. Occasionally you may even see him greeting the guests but more often than not, he will be ambling along the corridors busy with the chores. Today, is one of those days he has decided to greet the guests. :)

Please welcome Ro-Ri San…..

Postcard from Kanazawa

Konnichiwa! I am very happy that my dear “oku-san”, Biren has agreed to let me share about my recent trip to Kanazawa, a beautiful city in Ishikawa prefecture facing the Sea of Japan. Among the Japanese, Kanazawa is a favorite vacation spot with a combination of culture, scenery and wonderful cuisine. Situated in the rich rice-producing coastal plains of Kaga, the city enjoys a fresh supply of seafood from the coast and superior sake like Kubota and Hakaisan brewed from the local rice.

Kanazawa was the hereditary seat of the powerful Maeda clan. The Maedas brought artisans to the city during the Edo period. As a result, Kanazawa became famous for Kutani pottery, yuzen silk for kimono, fine lacquer ware and gold leaf artwork.

Postcard from Kanazawa

The city itself escaped damage during the war, thus preserving most of the traditional neighborhoods. Any visitor to Kanazawa should start with one of the most famous gardens in the world, the Kenrokuen. This amazing garden sits on a hill overlooking the city with several tea cottages, ponds, streams and the oldest fountain built in Japan. Exploring the individual neighborhoods in Kanazawa is another way to get to see the place. The area around Kanazawa castle is filled with museums and gardens. Omicho is a market area with lots of seafood restaurants. There are two geisha districts called Higashi Chayagai and Nishi Chayagai. Both districts have preserved some of their original geisha establishments as restaurants and museums. The samurai families of Kanazawa still maintain their unique walled homes in the Nagamachi district. Even as you walk along the wall lined streets, you will encounter quaint shops selling ceramics, and silk items.

Postcard from Kanazawa

And then there is the local Kanazawa cuisine……

The locals like to frequent restaurants tucked away in back streets or in upper floors of shoplots. In Kanazawa, many of these joints have an air of classy informality that invites the diner to partake the unhurried pace of the place that differentiates it from the exciting frenzy of Tokyo. The Danma-ya is such a place with a blend of the izakaya (Japanese tavern) and family restaurant thrown together.

Postcard from Kanazawa

The specialty of this place is the grilled squid and kushiyaki (grilled meat on skewers). The iwashi-age (fried sardines) is a simple but wonderful izakaya dish.

Postcard from Kanazawa

When I am in Japan, I always reserve a bit of space for dessert. Here dessert is a delightful concoction of chocolate ice cream rolled in green tea flavored ice-cream! To wash all this food down, I ordered a kiwi fruit cocktail that was such a thirst quencher.

Postcard from Kanazawa

Some neighborhood restaurants are simple counters arranged around the kitchen. In the Oseki restaurant, patrons sit up close to where you can see the chefs working on your seafood order with the rectangular oden containers line the front of the counter. Here the seafood is fresh from the market and prepared in a deceptively simple manner that brings out the full flavor of the ingredients.

Postcard from Kanazawa

The oden that I ordered had a local shellfish called baigai together with fish cakes, tofu and shirataki noodles. This is followed by sashimi comprising buri (mature yellowfin), hirame (flounder), ika (squid), ama ebi (sweet shrimp) and suzuki (black sea bass). The test of a good seafood restaurant is in its preparation of “tai no kabuto” (braised red snapper head). This is done “tsukudani-style” with the fish-head being simmered in soy sauce, mirin, sugar and flavored with go-bo (burdock). Very casual atmosphere as you get to chat with the chefs while they work. The mama-san treats her customers like they were her children around the dinner table.

Postcard from Kanazawa

A visit to Kanazawa will not be complete without crabs. In a corner restaurant named Kikuyoshi at the old samurai district, I ordered a set lunch with crab legs, sushi, Kaga seafood condiments and pork stew. The latter is a thick stew that complemented the crab and sashimi very well and has a very home-cooked flavor to it. Japanese comfort food. In larger groups, such stews are often cooked in a nabe (claypot), and then dished out to everyone seated around the table.

Postcard from Kanazawa

Now it is time for some Japanese desserts. Some of the best desserts in town can be found in the unlikeliest places. Urushi no Mi is a little dessert café on the 4th floor above a swanky lacquerware gallery. In fact the desserts are served using the same lacquer dishes sold downstairs. The café itself is part of the gallery! This place is well-known for sweet mochi. I ordered the mochi moriawase. These came in 3 flavors, green tea, azuki bean, and peanut.

Postcard from Kanazawa

Hankering for more, I ordered a bowl of green tea ice cream with azuki beans and mini mochi hidden like treasures underneath. All accompanied by freshly prepared frothy matcha.

Postcard from Kanazawa

These are just little snippets of the food scene around this city. And we never even talked about the sake in this place. That will have to be another story for another time.

Ro-Ri san always bring home gifts from Japan. These are the gorgeous Kutani tea cups that he bought from Hokusando, a very nice ceramic shop in downtown Kanazawa.

Postcard from Kanazawa

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! :-)

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35 Responses

  1. Beautiful guest post and such lovely pictures…I almost feel as if I were there, and boy would I love to visit some day. The food looks absolutely delightful, Japanese is my favorite cuisine but I have only enjoyed in the US :(

    • Biren says:

      I love going to Japan and Kanazawa would be my next destination there. It is such a beautiful place and the food is awesome.

  2. lequan says:

    Oh my oh my what beautiful pictures! Everything from the lovely scenery, to the enticing food, right down to those cute tea cups captured my full attention. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the gorgeous food. The desserts were mouthwatering and that kiwi cocktail sounds yummy :-P. Japanese is my favorite cuisine hands down, no doubt about it. Unfortunately I have never been to Japan to have the real thing, but would love to someday once my kiddies are older. What a super guest post. Thank you for sharing Mr. Ro-Ri San.

    • Biren says:

      LeQuan, I know you will enjoy Japan. I love the place, food, and shopping. The food is definitely as tasty as it looks. Japan is a very safe place to visit. You will have no problems bringing your kids :)

  3. Rumana says:

    Beautiful guest post:)

  4. Anncoo says:

    Those are amazing pictures, I’m sure Mr. Ro-Ri San is a good photographer. The food and desserts really make me drool..really feel like flying to Japan now. I think this is also the best time (Autumn) to visit Japan as I am also love Japanese food very much.

    • Biren says:

      Thanks Ann! Ro-Ri San did not bring his DSLR but used his camcorder cum camera instead. It was difficult to take the food pictures with the low lighting in the restaurants but it turned out quite well for some.

      Ro-Ri San says Japan is beautiful in autumn with the Japanese maples turning color. I have visited in spring and summer but not autumn as the boys are in school at this time. Someday I will surely visit in autumn :)

  5. Everything about this post is beautiful! Would really love to visit Japan someday!

  6. Joanne says:

    Great guest post! I really felt like I was there, traveling through Japan!

  7. Mina Joshi says:

    Loved this Post by your other half. Wonderful Post and great photographs too. I have been to Japan several times so I felt as though I was travelling through there again !! They do great veggie food there too!! Love the cups!! As I have said before – you have great accessories on your blog!

  8. Suchitra says:

    Loved the post and the pictures are fantastic- could finish off that cool looking kiwi cocktail in one sip!

  9. Thanks for this beautiful guest post and all the pictures. And I love love love these tea cups!!!

  10. Stella says:

    Wow, Kanazawa sounds so wonderful! If only I could travel a bit *sigh*. Ooh, and I admire anyone who dares bring dish ware as a gift-that’s an effort (smile)…

    • Biren says:

      Ro-Ri San is pretty good about bringing ceramics home :) Those teacups come in their own little boxes and is quite well protected.

  11. Pam says:

    Everything is gorgeous and I would love, love to visit Japan some day. You definitely can’t get much fresher seafood than that. Lucky you! Great guest post!

  12. Faith says:

    Thanks for sharing so much information with us on this lovely city! Those tea cups are really beautiful!

  13. love this post. Great photos and description of the cuisine and culture.

  14. Hello Ro-Ri San :) It’s a pleasure to finally ‘meet’ you! You write a lovely commentary – now I want to go to Kanazawa before I see any other part of Japan! All the food looks amazing and I really do love Japanese food, so this post is sensory overload for me :D Biren is so fortunate that you never return empty handed from a trip – the Kutani cups are lovely! I hope this won’t be the last guest post you do for Biren….

    Hey Biren – thanks for allowing Ro-Ri San to guest post. I enjoyed the virtual journey through Kanazawa. Those Kutani tea cups are beautiful and I wonder, are the patterns representative of the four seasons?

    • Biren says:

      Ro-Ri San smiles and nods, “Please to meet you. So sorry for sensory overload.”

      Biren ROFL!! :D :D

      Hey Denise, I am glad you enjoyed the post. Kanazawa is beautiful and a little off the beaten track. I guess that is the reason why it remains so. I love those Kutani teacups and you can say they are representative of the seasons although it is really hard to find one with a winter scene. The one with the maple leaves is my favorite. There is even a leaf painted in the base of the cup.

  15. Beautiful guest post! Kanazawa looks like a gorgeous place with exquisite food. THanks for sharing your trip with all of us.

  16. rebecca says:

    lovely guest post wow love Japan we went a few years ago to Kyoto this reminds me of Nijo castle thanks for the walk down memory lane


  17. What wonderful dishes. I want to taste every single one! Great guest post!

  18. Blackswan says:

    What an informative post & thks for sharing all these lovely pix!
    Japan is top of the list for me. It’s one place I visit almost every year :) Awesome!

  19. Thanks for this beautiful guest posts, all dishes look wonderful and delicious !

  20. sarah says:

    Beautiful post….Wonderful pics..

  21. Elin says:

    Beautiful guest post and thank you for sharing the photos too.
    Those gift cups from japan looks beautiful :)

    Biren, thanks for the birthday wishes :)

  22. Julie M. says:

    Biren, I loved this guest post! I really felt like she took me there and showed me around town. Now I’m wishing I could hop on a plane and visit! The food looks amazing and those cups are exquisite!

  23. Joanne says:

    Lovely post! I feel like I’ve been traveling and eating along with you the whole way. And now I’m hungry.

  24. Reeni says:

    I loved this virtual tour! What a beautiful place and such delicious eats. The tea cups are gorgeous! A wonderful guest post!

  25. Katerina says:

    These are such beautiful sceneries. And food, I wish I could sneak somewhere there and taste all these beauties.

  26. Pachecopatty says:

    Beautiful guest post sorry my comment is late, I’ve been traveling too much and have gotten behind on my reading. I’ve never been to Japan so I enjoyed the detailed description of the life, city streets, crafts, food and drink in the restaurants, the ways of the people etc, all very entertaining and interesting. I look forward to hearing about Sake and Biren your new tea cups are beautiful:)

  27. Excellent! I shall have to visit Kanazawa the next time we are in Japan.

    Now I want a bowl of green tea ice cream with adzuki beans!

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