Exploring Kanazawa is a feat of cycling, strolling and sightseeing, so you’re certain to work up an appetite. Luckily enough, the city has a practical buffet of delicous options, including black miso ramen, roll-your-own sushi, homemade pasta and incredible burgers, to name a few.
Grabbing lunch en route or picking a place for dinner at the end of a long day can be more stress than joy when traveling, but it doesn’t have to be that way in Kanazawa. Small but jam-packed with traditional and contemporary restaurants, the city offers options for vegetarians, udon lovers, burger cravers and pasta seekers alike—as well as for those after a taste of traditional kaga cuisine.
1. Menya Taiga: Miso ramen to die for
One of the friendliest ramen joints I’ve ever walked into, Menya Taiga is small enough to pass by without spotting—but in doing so you’d make no greater mistake in your life. Serving just three types of ramen—regular miso, black miso and red miso—it’s simplicity at its finest. The original? Delicious. The red: spicy. And the black adds squid ink for depth.
When you take your seat at the counter you’ll be given a shot of vegetable juice to sustain your blood sugar levels. A surprising health boost to precede your bowl of definitely-not-healthy-but-delicious-ramen.
2. Coil: Roll your own sushi
Coil was such a fun experience that we wrote a whole article about it As for a mini review: basically, it’s great. Adding a contemporary touch to the traditional hosomaki sushi, here you can customize your own dinner and roll it yourself too. The potential fillings list has everything from simple salmon to camembert, as well as jellyfish if you’re feeling adventurous.
Choose either five, six or eight filling options for your meal, which comes with a tempura nest and four pre-prepped seaweed sheets ready to roll. There’s also a tea ceremony counter with ten teas, including the local specialty twig tea, plenty of green tea, roasted barley and more.
3. Seimensho: Curry udon (need we say more?)
Serving up warming bowls of curry udon topped with crispy tempura vegetables, Seimensho is the evening meal your tired legs deserve. The restaurant focuses on quality, with great attention paid to the toppings, the tea and each element in your homemade noodles. Using local indredients (the soy sauce comes from nearby Ono, for example) and fresh seasonal vegetables, you can be sure you’re trying the best of the region. There are non-curry options, such as chicken, if you need a protein hit. The portions are sizeable so you won’t be left hungry whichever you choose.
4. Cottage: Handmade, homemade pasta
Plating up bowls of delicious homemade pasta and fresh-from-the-oven pizza in a friendly Irish-spiked restaurant, owners Tony and Momo make guests feel instantly at home. If you pop in at lunch you’ll likely see Tony busy making pasta behind the counter and can enjoy a dish for the special lunch price. The pizzas are equally fresh as they’re made to order. There’s also a substantial beverage menu, so dinner can turn into drinks without a hitch. There are vegetarian options available if you ask and a daily menu change, so if you find yourself craving more fresh pasta, you’ll have an (un-needed) excuse to pop back in.
5. Gyohan: Regional dishes in a samurai house
The place to go if you’re keen to try the local specialty of kaga ryori, Gyohan has been serving customers in their samurai residence for over 100 years. Options include traditional lunch sets as well as individual dishes—all of which are brimming with local, seasonal ingredients including kaga vegetables.
The most popular regional dish is jibuni, a stew with duck, seitan and vegetables. You can have it in its regular form or as a shareable hot-pot stew unique to Gyohan. For more on the local cuisine and places to try it check out our guide to kaga cuisine!
6. The Godburger: Not-guilty pleasures
When all you need is a juicy, no-holds-barred burger, the God Burger is a god send. Using excessively long and literal burger names in place of descriptions, it’s easy to pick out which you want, but not so easy to narrow it down to a single choice. Pick from chili beans, avocado and fried eggs, among other toppings, to join your juicy beef patty—sandwiched between lightly grilled, special-recipe burger buns.
Served with fries and a pickle on the side, you need little more than a lick of ketchup and you’re on your way to being entirely sated. If a burger has set you up for an evening on the town, be sure to check our guide to the best craft beer bars in Kanazawa!
7. Full of Beans: Trendy and very, very tasty
A trendy spot that wouldn’t be out of place in Tokyo, Full of Beans has a relaxed atmosphere with horigotatsu seating and an ever-changing menu. Seemingly constantly filled with well-dressed couples and groups of chatting friends, the cafe serves kaga vegetable lunch plates and steak sets, along with a more substantial evening menu. While it isn’t always listed on their regular menu, they do have a vegetarian lunch plate and dessert set which is delicious.
If you’re after more vegetarian and vagan cuisine, we have a full list of places to try in Kanazawa too.
8. Ukyo Soba: A classic soba joint with castle views
Close to the Higashi Tea District, Ukyo is a long-running soba restaurant serving local, seasonal lunches. Including dishes from the local kaga cuisine as well as the usual soba suspects, you can also opt for a soba kaiseki course if you’ve got a real hunger to feed. Crisp tempura, freshly cut noodles and views of the castle make for a pretty perfect lunch, so it’s popularity among locals and visitors comes at no surprise.
Ukyo Soba is open only from 11 am to 3 pm (last orders at 2:30 pm),so be sure to head over in plenty of time.
Bonus round: Samurai District sweets and Tea District cafes
After something sweet? We have that covered too. If you’re down by the Samurai District, then you’ve got to stop by Cafe Dumbo. Serving homemade cakes and freshly ground specialty coffee, it has everything needed to perk you up before you head out, while being relaxing enough if the stress of trying to see it all has become a bit much.
Up by the Higashi Tea District, try out the upstairs cafe at Hayuwa. It was once a hair salon for geisha (which still operates just around the corner), but now serves traditional green tea and sweets with views along the famous preserved streets. A little farther along (and a little higher priced), Kaikaro Tea House is open to visitors and offers a look around traditional geisha house. There are also geisha shows in the evening during spring and autumn.