13th May 2019: curry for breakfast, a sugar tree, a pretty new café, sake tasting and excellent kaiseki dinner in Kanazawa

Today was a day of sight-seeing (with the opportunistic sake tasting thrown in), then finished with a grandiose kaiseki dinner 😋

But first… breakfast!

The hotel breakfast was a buffet, Japanese style. I wasn’t quite sure of how to assemble things together… but I eventually figured something like this would work: Japanese curry, pickles, a boiled egg, some rice!

Samurai district

We spent the morning visiting this area of Kanazawa. Truly interesting; we got to see variously sized historic homes and museums, illustrating the ways of living both from richer to poorer inhabitants.

Most of them required you to take your shoes off, but many also had gardens—so they would make shoes like this available for visitors to put on before stepping in the garden, and then leave them on the doorstep again when the garden tour is over. That way their feet do not touch the mud and also the mud does not touch the wooden floors in the house! Perfect solution.

Sandals for visitors

These gardens were way more domestic than the Kenroku-en that we saw the day before, but equally, they felt more approachable in their smaller scale. You could imagine yourself inhabiting these private spaces more than the vast expanses of the big gardens.

The candy tree at the Shinise Memorial Hall

One of the museums we visited had an area dedicated to various local industries and crafts achievements. I was very interested to learn about all the ways that wheat, soya and rice can be manipulated, fermented and/or shaped to create differently looking pieces of food, but this section was Next Level: a bouquet essentially made of carbohydrates!

“Unbelievable” does not cut it; I think “incredibly humbling” is a better adjective, because I truly believe that Japanese patience can make this happen.

Bankers Street Café

We found this extremely new looking café when looking for somewhere to have lunch. It felt like it had been opened yesterday! Everything was so pretty and well designed and immaculately arranged. We felt so curious and just decided to give it a go.

We weren’t quite sure at the time (does it? does it not?) but this café belongs to the Square hotel. However, as far as hotel restaurants go, this one passed with flying marks.

The food could be described as “classic Western comfort food meets impeccable Japanese execution”. It was very nice (and specially nourishing after spending the whole day on our feet!)

Potato soup with sourdough toast
Grains and tomato
Dessert – blueberry mousse
Dessert 2: cherry cake

After these and two iced coffees, we felt equipped to proceed further into our Kanazawa explorations.

Higashi chayaga – the East tea house district

We spent the afternoon in this traditional looking area, although it is considerably bigger and busier than Narai, and thus the “illusion” of being transported in time didn’t quite work so well here.

But that doesn’t mean we could not appreciate it, which we did!

福光屋 ひがし (Fukumitsuya Higashi)

We had already had lunch, so were not looking into eating in one of these tea houses, but what about drinks? You can’t say no to trying out sake, especially in a quiet and beautiful place like this one…

Another important factor that is worth pointing out is that unlike wine, sake benefits from being drank fresh, and thus the imported Japanese sake we normally drink in Europe is unlikely to be as fresh (and cheap!) as what you can get in Japan.

It would be foolish to not take advantage of drinking sake when it’s at its best!

After we finished looking at all the things and buying all the pretty lacquerware that we deemed necessary, we slowly walked back to the hotel, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight and the ingenuity and creativity displayed on the doorsteps. I really loved all the plant pot arrangements!

Zeniya

But the best of the day was perhaps still to come…

… I thought with excitement as we walked towards the restaurant that was to host my first kaiseki dinner in Japan.

Devvers had booked dinner in Zeniya, a discreet place in a side alley off a busy road, really, really far away from the fanfare displayed by splashy restaurants in London.

We sat on the counter; I think there was space for six people in total.

Chef Takagi and his assistants took turns to explain each dish to diners. It felt like being part of something really special. The hospitality was superb!

And the food?

I lost track of all the delicious dishes we enjoyed, but I have been thinking about the tuna since then. Or should I rather say The Tuna. The fish with a crispy top and the home made mochi were also excellent—such delicate and surprising flavours!

A couple of the multiple dishes that came our way:

It became dark while we were having dinner!

The alley where Zeniya is, at night

We walked back to our hotel, reminiscing the experience we just had had, and wondering if we’d ever had tuna like The Tuna again…! 😍🐟

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