After more than 300 years, Kanazawa’s Omicho Market remains one of the best places for a taste of the surrounding land and sea. Fishmongers, of which there are many, tout an assortment of crabs, shrimp, and nodoguro (rosy seabass), the quintessential fish for this region, along with fresh or dried hotaruika (firefly squid), another local delicacy. Oysters, large and fresh, also abound, and visitors stand and slurp them with gusto or savor them over steamy bowls of rice.
Omicho’s warren of lanes is worth a stroll for the variety of oden, another local mainstay, udon, or sushi and sashimi eateries. However, fruits, vegetables, and sweets have their place, too. One of the best shops for a broad selection of local and heirloom varieties is Kitagawa Vegetables. A market mainstay for 70 years, their tightly packed, colorful display includes an assortment of pickles, four kinds of eggplant, round and oblong daikon, fresh wasabi, mushrooms, and a fine selection of local greens, including kinjiso, an heirloom variety with sturdy green and purple leaves perfect for salad, soup, or a quick sauté.
Shigeyoshi Yoneda of Kaiso Life stands behind his table bedecked with a variety of dried seaweeds and fish as he has for the last twenty years. Myriad combinations of everything from a snack to go with beer or sake to savory mekabucha (mekabu tea) are available. Harvested from just above the root of the wakame seaweed stalk, mekabu’s crinkly look is also a delightful addition to soups and salads.
Slightly less healthy, but no less delicious, are the fried delights found at Agemaruten Kasai. Their selection of ground fish patties offer a delectable blend of local vegetables, fish, and seasonality and are made on the spot. Autumn features patties containing lotus root and sweet potato, while spring and summer bring the vibrant greens of nanohana and komatsuna. Look for the line of visitors awaiting their fried blowfish, a Kanazawa specialty.
Those with a sweet tooth should head directly to Okunokashiho, which offers a variety of traditional sweets such as daifuku mochi, youkan, and manju. The two most unique, though, are the ikaga and abekawa mochis. Ikaga mochi features sweet bean paste surrounded by a layer of smooth mochi studded with bright yellow mochi rice. A wedding standard, it’s also a cheerful companion for a cup of coffee or tea. The abekawa are squares of mochi rice smothered in green kinako (roasted soy bean powder). In business for over 100 years, and at Omicho for more than 70, Okunokashiho is a sure bet.
Everyday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.