Thursday, June 27, 2019

Sushi Drama

I have been told repeatedly by my friends that the best sushi in Kanazawa is at this cozy restaurant called Otome Sushi, so we asked the travel concierge to help us make a booking and went on the last day of our trip. Given our flight was at in the early evening, I figured we should have plenty of time to make it back to the airport comfortably after finishing our meal there (more on that later).

With the sky finally cleared up after a few days of thunderstorm, we crammed most of the outdoor itinerary in Kanazawa into the final day, including the Kenrokuen garden and the avant-garde 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. Nonetheless, we made it to the restaurant right on time for our reservation time at noon. Took us a good while trying to locate the entrance of the restaurant, which is on the side of a parking lot through a narrow pathway with a tiny sign that read “Otome Sushi” in Kanji.

I wouldn’t exactly call the restaurant “hole-in-the-wall” but there’s a warm, homey feel to it with only a long wooden counter with 8 seats plus a private section on the side. In the open kitchen was Chef Kazuhiko Tsurumi and his apprentice chef. This afternoon we began with some sashimi courses before moving on to the sushi pieces, and we stated with thin slices of makogarei (flounder), a blob of finely-cut aka-ika (red flying squid) and a couple pieces of prawns (Gasu-ebi and botan-ebi). The squid has a creamy texture and worked well with the hint of nutty flavor from the toasted sesames on top and the pair of prawns offered drastically different tastes. I thought the gasu-ebi with the darker color has excellent taste while the botan-ebi has a firmer texture.

Next was three types of clams, including Baigai (Babylon shell), Torigai (giant cockles) and Akanishigai (red sea snails). All were decent and extremely fresh, and I thought the Akanishigai was the particularly interesting one, small with a bright red tint, mild in taste (but worked well with a drizzle of sudachi juice) but with crunchy texture. I love the kegani (hairy crabs) served with its roes with its rich umami flavor – we expected no less in an area famous for crabs. The hamaguri (giant clams) was grilled with a splash of sake and it’s plump and tasty. Then it’s a piece of (not so thin) toro (fatty tuna) with a dab of grated daikon and soy sauce on top.

Nodoguro (blackthroat seaperch) was another local specialty, and it’s perfectly grilled with the slightly crisped skin on top of the fatty meat. Minimally seasoned but probably one of the best I have tasted anywhere. We were approaching the prime season for oysters and the iwagaki (rock oysters) came in huge size – which Chef Kazuhiko-san had to cut into 4 bite-sized pieces to serve. I definitely preferred the abalone here then the one we had a few days ago – better seasoned with tender texture and the rich liver puree on top.

We only moved onto sushi after 10 different starter courses. And altogether we had 8 different pieces of sushi – amaebi (sweet shrimp), ara (grouper), chutoro (medium fatty tuna), kohada (gizzard shad), aji (horse mackeral), nodoguro, uni (sea urchin) and anago (sea eel). All were outstanding, but I was most impressed with the aji and nodoguro with the fatty but not overbearing taste. The shari (rice) was slightly warm and with a mild hint of vinegar, working extremely well with the neta.

Certainly the best of our trip and one of the top sushi meals I have had. A bit of drama came after our meal when we had to travel 300km and dashed through rush-hour traffic near Nagoya to make it to airport for our evening flight home (I was carried away by the good food and forgot to keep track of time), but looking back (we barely arrived at the gate on time), it’s well worth it.

Photo album:

When? June 11 2019
Where? Otome Sushi, 4-10 Kiguramachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Menu Highlights? Nodoguro no Shioyaki
Drinks? Sougen Zuido Gura Junmai - Sogen Sake Brewery, Ishikawa Prefecture
宗玄 隧道蔵 純米 - 石川県 宗玄酒造
Web: (Tabelog)

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