Omicho Market: A Must-See for Foodies! How to Make the Most of This Popular Spot in Kanazawa
Omicho Market is one of Kanazawa’s most popular tourist attractions. With more than 180 shops and restaurants, this market offers you a delightful experience even if you just stroll around inside. Prepare yourself, because this article contains recommendations on what to do and how to make the most of Omicho Market!
What is Omicho Market?
Also known as the “Kitchen of Kanazawa,” Omicho Market has a history of close to 300 years! Once in there, you'll hear the vendors’ lively voices calling out from inside the tightly lined-up shops, and you'll instantly fall in love with its energetic atmosphere. The market is also within walking distance from other tourist attractions, including the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanagawa and Kenroku-en, one of the three most famous gardens in Japan.
Shop to Your Heart’s Content
You will find a wide range of goods for sale at Omicho Market: from fresh fish and fruits, to vegetables and all sorts of different snacks. But the star of the show has got to be the incredibly fresh seafood available, such as crabs – a must-have delicacy from the Hokuriku region, where Ishikawa, Niigata, Toyama, and Fukui prefectures are located. There's also a wide variety of traditional Kaga vegetables, harvested in Kanazawa. If you’re staying in a guest house or any other accommodation equipped with a kitchen, this market is an excellent place to purchase ingredients to prepare yourself a meal. And, because of the variety of products dealt here, you’re bound to find something to buy as a souvenir. Check it out!
Try Delicious Goodies Straight from the Counter
When you come to Omicho Market, you must stop and try the many types of food served straight from the shop counter. There are so many places! Some offer grilled foods, such as grilled squid and oyster; others serve up freshly fried croquettes; and some even prepare the seafood you ordered right in front of your eyes, like shrimp, sea urchin, crab, and much more!
Savor Sushi and Seafood
You can also find many restaurants inside Omicho Market. Out of the long list of stores, you should definitely try some restaurants that serve kaisen-don (sashimi rice bowls) or sushi. Here are three particular recommendations!
This is a popular restaurant where you can have incredibly fresh seafood brought straight from the seaport. A recommendation is the sashimi rice bowl Enome-don (1,800 JPY (incl. tax)). This dish has 11 to 12 sorts of sashimi on top of the rice. Pour over some soy sauce mixed with wasabi to eat this beauty! English menu available.
Gempei is a popular sushi restaurant with more than 45 years of history. There’s no farm-raised fish here; they only use wild fish and shellfish caught in the Sea of Japan. Try the set meals in which you can enjoy sushi made of seasonal ingredients at reasonable prices! One of the most requested dishes is Sasarindo (3,500 JPY (excl. tax)), an assorted sushi platter with 10 pieces, including one toro sushi (bluefin tuna’s fatty meat part). Yummy!
At Kotetsu, you can have sashimi rice bowls made with fresh seafood selected straight from the shops inside Omicho Market. The most popular one is the one you see in the picture. Look at all those colors! The restaurant is very particular about their ingredients: they use 13 to 14 different kinds of fresh fish, a special soy sauce, and premium rice Koshihikari, locally produced in Ishikawa. You'll really be able to try delicious Kanazawa cuisine here!
Enjoy Local Ingredients
Inside the market, you will find a great number of restaurants that offer dishes made with ingredients unique to the Hokuriku region.
Shunsai Washoku Koufuku
At Shunsai Washoku Koufuku, you can enjoy dishes prepared with vegetables locally grown in Ishikawa, and seafood caught in the Sea of Japan. The recommendation for when you come here are the dishes made with rosy seabass, a luxury fish typical of the Hokuriku region. They serve large and fatty ones in a variety of ways, such as grilled with salt or sushi. You will also be able to try seasonal Hokuriku seafood like crab and firefly squid.
Menu sample: Rosy Seabass Kaiseki (8,000 JPY (excl. tax) per person)
This restaurant also takes particular care in offering food unique to the Hokuriku region. Enishi’s specialty is the Rosy Seabass Hitsumabushi (3,300 JPY (incl. tax) per person), a dish made with rice topped with rosy seabass sashimi. To eat it, first pour over soy sauce mixed with wasabi and have it like that. Then, try it with sea urchin, sesame seeds, and perilla leaves. Lastly, pour over broth made with rosy seabass bones over the remaining food, add dry seaweed, and savor it to the end. It’s three times delicious! The restaurant's dishes made with vegetables locally grown in Kanazawa, and beef and pork produced in Ishikawa, are also popular. Menu is available in English and Korean.
At Yuzu, you can have traditional food from Kanazawa in a set meal format for a reasonable price. The Kanazawa Gozen (1,680 JPY) is a very filling lunch option consisting of small dishes such as locally grown vegetable tempura, jibu-ni (a thick stew made with chicken, vegetables, and soft wheat gluten cakes called "fu"), sashimi of Spanish mackerel cured in seaweed, and more. This meal also comes with a bowl of Kodai-mai rice, cultivated in the town of Noto, northern Ishikawa. (Kodai-mai, or ancient rice, is a very nutritious type of rice that has kept the deep color and characteristics of old species of the plant.) The restaurant also has a great variety of desserts, such as the refreshing but rich Hojicha Ice Cream (200 JPY) (roasted green tea ice cream) and Japanese sweets, so be prepared!
Visit Omicho Ichibakan
Next up is an introduction of Omicho Ichibakan. On the first floor of this commercial center, located inside Omicho Market, you can find shops selling fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables. The restaurants recommended earlier in this article, and some more, can also be found here, but on the second floor. On other floors you'll find a bakery, a ramen shop, a drugstore, and much more. Take a walk around!
Let Your Sweet Tooth Take Control
It doesn’t matter how full you are, there’s always some space left for dessert! Here are two shops where you can enjoy delicious tea and dessert.
First, there's the tea shop Saraku on the first basement floor of Ichibakan. In this shop, in addition to tea, you can also indulge in some Japanese sweets typical of Kanazawa. Recommendations are the Matcha Soft Serve Ice Cream prepared with a generous amount of matcha (green tea) (as you would expect from a tea shop!), and the Kodai-mai Daifuku (180 JPY), a chewy rice cake stuffed with sweet bean paste and mashed chestnuts. At the store, you can also sample their daily roasted Hoji stem tea, which is incredibly aromatic. If you like it, it could make a great souvenir!
The second shop recommendation is Caffè Arco Mercato, where you will find many sweets, including parfaits! This is actually an Italian restaurant that uses ingredients brought straight from Omicho Market, but you can also use it as a coffee shop whenever you have some idle time.
There’s no doubt you’ll want some food souvenirs: maybe some fruit or fish cake to eat at your lodging when you’re back, or perhaps something that lasts longer to bring back home with you.
One recommendation is the coffee-flavored yokan (a firm jelly made with adzuki bean paste) sold at Caravan Serai Takezo Branch, a coffee shop located on Ichibakan’s first basement floor. The rich taste and scent of coffee balances perfectly with the sweet bean paste, making it an easy-to-eat Japanese sweet.
Finish Off with Some Local Sake and Kanazawa Oden
After you’re done shopping, you should conclude the day with some local sake, and one of the foods Kanazawa is famous for: Kanazawa oden! Traditional oden is usually a hot pot of vegetables and fish paste goodies (such as fish cakes) slowly simmered in broth. What makes Kanazawa oden special is that it adds shellfish and fu to the mix.
One amazing place in Omicho Market for you to try some great oden is a restaurant called "Ippukuya."
It is recommended that you try the Whelk (350 JPY) and the ring-shaped fu called "Kurumabu" (180 JPY), because these are two ingredients only found in the oden from Kanazawa. But there’s more! At Ippukuya, you can also try the very popular Kani-men (1,300 JPY), a crab shell stuffed with crab meat and fish paste. The ingredients slowly soak up the seaweed broth, and taste absolutely delicious!
To finish off, nothing harmonizes better with oden than Kanazawa’s own high-quality local sake. There are a few of them at Ippukuya, so try drinking and comparing them. You will surely have a good time!
You can dive into Kanazawa’s food culture at Omicho Market, so come on over and try everything the Horuriku region has to offer!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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