Chef Mitsuhiro Kibatani’s restaurant was born out of his love for the Hokuriku region in northwestern Japan. A Toyama native, his culinary goal is to reinvent a style of sushi that is unique to Hokuriku, and stun his guests with the incredible quality of the local seafood. The sake selection as well as the pottery and kitchen tools are also locally made. If you want to immerse yourself in an authentic Hokuriku experience, don’t miss an evening with the lovely chef at this one-Michelin star winner.
Just a short drive from Kanazawa Station, Sushi Kibatani is located in Hikosomachi, a quieter and older part of the city. Set along the Asano River, the area is full of charm and has a rich cultural history descending from the Edo Period. A number of old samurai residences still remain in the picturesque neighborhood.
Kibatani was born in Toyama as a son of a fishmonger. Growing up, he knew exactly what a good fish looked and tasted like. When he finished school, he tried working at a company in Tokyo but quickly gave up and found a job at the Tsukiji fish market. As he got to meet many sushi chefs there, he knew what he was destined to become.
His training as a sushi chef began at Yoshiura, a sushi restaurant in Funabashi owned by one of Sukiyabashi Jiro’s apprentices. Over three years, he absorbed the basic techniques including making sushi rice and choosing the right fish. He went on to gain more skills at Ginza Sushi Aoki in the most competitive neighborhood for high-end sushi.
He returned home to Toyama and began building his reputation as a catering sushi chef. It was during this time he rediscovered his love for the region and the incredible value of the local seafood. He was astonished by the variety and quality of the fish.
In 2016, he realized his dream of opening his own restaurant in this very neighborhood he loved. His challenge was to offer something different and unique in Kanazawa, home to many top-rated sushi restaurants. He continued to visit the local markets to study the different fish and made sure to source the best produce available.
Enjoy Hokuriku Sushi
Kibatani’s approach to sushi is to be minimalist. Given the amazing quality of the fish, he prefers not to overwork them. He always checks the condition of the fish before he decides on what techniques to use, such as marinating or maturing.
Cooked in an iron pot, the sushi rice is made using organic grains grown by a group of priests in Wajima. It is flavored with a mix of red and rice vinegars. He changes the temperature of the rice depending on what kind of fish he has prepared for the day.
The seasonal omakase menu consists of 7-8 appetizers and 14-15 pieces of sushi. The course starts slowly as you enjoy the seasonal starters with delicious local sake.
One of the day’s appetizers is a small plate of sweet shrimp. Served on a beautiful emerald kutani-yaki dish, the plump shrimp is covered in a creamy sauce made of konowata, a rare local delicacy made from cured entrails of sea cucumbers.
The meal moves onto a parade of beautiful sushi. A piece of saw-edged perch, caught off Himi Bay, is draped over the small ball of sushi and dapped with soy sauce. The fish has been lightly matured for a deeper flavor. The shiny piece of squid is sliced lightly for a silkier texture.
The marbled tuna has the perfect amount of fat and sweetness, melting in your mouth in the most satisfying way. It’s rare that today’s tuna is sourced locally from Himi as most tuna comes from Tsukiji market. The biggest advantage about sourcing locally is that the fish is raw, not frozen. The difference in flavor is significant.
Gizzard shad is an Edomae classic that requires the perfect balance of salt and vinegar. The recipe of the marinade varies by the day based on the condition of the fish. A thick layer of saltwater eel is fluffy and flavorful, first cooked in flavored dashi and lightly broiled. The thickened sauce on top is not too sweet and matches perfectly with the vinegared rice.
Lastly, a warm dish is served at the end to gently wrap up the evening.
Almost every piece of fish is sourced locally in the Hokuriku region. Kibatani frequently visits ports in Wajima, Noto, Himi, Shinminato and Kanazawa, and works closely with fishmongers he trusts. He also uses local vegetables and fruits.
The drinks menu also focuses on the Hokuriku area. Shiragiku and Gorin are among the favorites from Ishikawa Prefecture. The wine comes from Says Farm in Toyama Prefecture. There are also some tasty locally-brewed beers from Kanazawa.
Committed to supporting local craftsmen, Kibatani collects pottery and kitchen tools made in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures. The small dish used to place the sushi pieces is custom made by Yukio Shakunaga, a local ceramic artist that is famous for etchu seto ware.
He also has an exquisite collection of kutani and ohiyaki pottery. The diamond-shaped plate (pictured) is an aikokutani ware from the Edo period. Its cobalt design is unique to the style of traditional pottery. The round dish (pictured) is the work of Tokuda Yasokichi, a renowned kutani ware potter. He hopes to continue adding to his collection with works of antique and modern artists.
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000
- The price includes our booking fee of ￥8,000