Kanazawa is about a two-hour high-speed Shinkansen train ride from Tokyo in Ishikawa prefecture, on Japan’s west coast. The city with quaint back streets and bubbling canals houses Kanazawa Castle, The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, and when in season, becomes a cherry blossom viewing destination with tourists galore and sumptuous views that center on Kenroku-en gardens. When it comes to eating, seafood is the clear focus, with a stunning variety fished from the Sea of Japan. Learn about 10 places to eat and drink coffee in Kanazawa, based on my trip from April 10 – 13, 2019, with many recommendations from trusted world travelers Dylan Ho and Jeni Afuso.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
This canal-adjacent “coffee shop” just serves coffee (dark, medium or light roast), Japanese tea, and a single toast. Ashito contains only two tables and two counter seats and sports sculpted cream-colored walls. Decorative dried flower bundles hang from the ceiling. I ordered earthy red bean toast topped with a pat of butter and a cup of light Costa Rican coffee from Nagasawa Coffee prepared via pourover with a long-necked kettle. Yamato, the owner, grew up in Tokyo and opened his shop in fall 2018. He and Kanazawa are clearly made for each other.
MUST ORDER: Pourover Coffee, Red Bean Toast
2. Blanket Cafe
Blanket Cafe resides on an Oyamamachi side street, sandwiched between busy Kamitsutsumichō road and centuries old Oyama Shrine. They roast coffee and serve pastries and toasts. Staffers assign seats in a smaller, well-lit section up front, and a larger, darker section in back with sofa seats and dried flowers. Ring a decorative bell for service. I ordered hot Tanzania coffee and dry, crisp house-made ginger ale, both beverages satisfying for different reasons.
MUST ORDER: Tanzania Coffee, Housemade Ginger Ale
3. Curio Espresso and Vintage Design
Kanazawa native Yuko Otoku and husband Sol Gallago run this glass-fronted coffee bar featuring exposed wood beans and a mix of couch, counter, and table seating. Shelves host an array of new and old curios ranging from sewing machines to radios and cameras. A powder blue La Marzocco espresso machine provides the engine for the round coffee bar. I savored my tall cappuccino, which sported a handsome banded steamed milk foam crown.
MUST ORDER: Tall Cappuccino
The dining room and bar were rightly packed at this homey izakaya. Fuwari’s sprawling menu includes appetizers, deep-fried dishes, sashimi, and char-grilled skewers, but the kitchen shines with seasonal specials, and for more trusting diners, a prescribed tasting menu. My a la carte selections started with “signature” sashimi, a shareable platter starring “today’s fish” presented with flair. Shrimp gratin croquettes were creamy inside and sported crunchy panko crusts. Accompaniments for rosy grilled “Wagyu” may have outshone the steak, including turnips and a local vegetable called kinshinsai (tender lily buds) that reminded my wife of baby corn, minus the kernels. Expertly deep-fried proteins included house-made fishcakes and juicy chicken plated in tangy vinegar broth with onions, myoga (young ginger), shiso, and scallions.
MUST ORDER: Chicken Thigh, Fried Chicken, Fuwari Signature Assorted Sashimi Platter, Grilled “Wagyu” Steak, Homemade Fishcake, Shrimp Gratin Croquette
This Kanazawa-based company specializes in gold leaf craftsmanship that extends from framed paintings to food. The city houses three Hakuichi gift shops, and I encountered a branch just downhill from Kanazawa Castle that hosts a soft serve ice cream window with wood slats. Hakuichi specializes in creamy soft serve ice cream garnished with luxurious gold leaf and pink sugar flower in a Laurel Too flower shaped cake cone at a fraction of the cost of gilded cones right in the tourist zone. Stumbling upon this window during a cherry blossom viewing session saved us from walking to the Hagashiyama location and provided a sweet treat on a blustery day.
MUST ORDER: Gold Leaf Soft Serve Ice Cream