A dining experience far from the metropolis may be your favorite sushi yet: Otome Sushi allows you to savor a diverse range of fresh seafood from the local markets, thanks to the unique topography and converging warm and cool ocean currents in the Hokuriku region . Born to fishermen parents in a nearby town, the fastidious chef has created a warm and inviting space that overflows with his deep love of seafood and for the city of Kanazawa.
In a maze of narrow local streets not far from the famous Kenrokuen Gardens in Kiguramachi, Kanazawa, hidden deep among laneways lined on both sides by tiny restaurants and bars, careful steps will help you find Otome Sushi. A stone lantern sits in a small manicured garden with a path that leads to a sliding wooden door. Hanging above is a linen noren with the only clue you have found your destination – the characters for Otome Sushi. This restaurant has an endearing old-time feel to it; history oozes from the place and gives you that special feeling of a shared experience with years of guests who have come to dine here. A dark-wood interior, traditional lattice paper sliding doors, and wooden boxes filled with delicacies – expectation builds each time you hear the gentle clacking of the lid as it is lifted to reveal the colorful selection of seafood within.
Feel chef's deep love of seafood
Otome Sushi offers a simplified sushi experience. The chef has looked at all the latest trends and tried out various new things, but keeps coming back to what he feels is best. And the best is incredibly simple: delicious local Ishikawa Prefecture rice with a nice level of stickiness produced with fresh Mount Hakusan water; rice vinegar only; and an overwhelming focus on nigiri – the sumptuous ovals of rice topped with generous pieces of fresh seafood. Each piece ends up balanced with the elements in perfect harmony, always accentuating and never overpowering the fresh seafood morsels.
From Kanazawa Port, akaika or neon flying squid is so pearly white with delicate knifework, it can hardly be distinguished from the glistening rice below. The delicate pink flesh of mahata sevenband grouper from nearby Wajima Port may be followed by a specialty from Aomori’s Taima Port – the bold red tones of marbled maguro no shimofuri, an incredibly delicious but very small part of the tuna, which is not easy to come by. Black-throated seaperch or nodoguro is a local delicacy strongly associated with Kanazawa. The buttery texture of the fish is loved by all, and because Chef Tsurumi can source high-quality nodoguro year-round, you will be able to enjoy the contrast of the crisp skin with the melt-in-your-mouth flesh each time you visit. Velvety uni sea urchin from Rishiri Island off the northwest coast of Hokkaido almost glows with rich orange color, and kohada gizzard shad shows its striking striped silver flesh generously enveloping the rice. A bowl of miso soup arrives signaling the end of meal, leaving you to reflect on the incredible nigiri course, and warming your tummy with salty, comforting flavors.
Ingredients are sourced every morning through the Kanazawa central wholesale market. The freshest Japan Sea fish from the Hokuriku region is first brought in to Kanazawa, ensuring the best from the catch each day.
It is also extremely convenient to have excellent access and transport between Kanazawa and Tsukiji Market, because some items such as maguro tuna and uni sea urchin pass through Tsukiji first. Suppliers check the quality each day and make choices for the chef. One other possible supply route is directly through ports, but this is something Chef Tsurumi rarely does. As the child of fishermen, he knows how hard it is to sort through the catch right after it is brought in. Not wanting to burden the fishermen any further, he chooses to go through the markets instead, and ensures the best through trusted relationships with his buyers.
At Otome Sushi, you will find an incredible lineup of sake. A closer look reveals that every bottle comes from a brewery in Ishikawa, Toyama or Fukui – the three prefectures that make up the region of Hokuriku. Chef Tsurumi is very particular about what he serves, and of course takes care to select sake varieties that enhance the sushi flavors. When asked for recommendations by guests, Tsurumi usually suggests Noto Homare, a daiginjo with delicate fruity aromas from a sake brewery in Wajima, Ishikawa, near the picturesque terraced rice fields of Senmaida. Kind to the wallet, Tsurumi’s suggestion shows deep consideration for his guests. However, the chef’s personal favorite is Sogen Suidoguchi, which commands quite a premium price. Aged at constant temperatures within an abandoned railway tunnel for deep rounded flavor, the quality of this sake is outstanding.