Pino, Kanazawa, Japan

I stumbled across an interesting place after visiting the Ninja Temple while I was walking through the laneways of Kanazawa as I was looking for the Casa Samurai Nomura.

The plastic food in the window looked interesting enough for me to head inside. What I saw when I walked in was unlike any other restaurant I would eat at in Japan.

Thinking back this place had the feeling of an Italian family restaurant, but with a really eclectic, some would say random, menu – touches of Japanese, Indian and Western dishes.

There was a special deal at lunch – a main plus desert and a coffee which I chose mainly to get a cheap waffle.

Mainwise I chose a chicken Keema Curry which was pretty average I must say.

In hindsight I don’t buy pizzas from the Chinese, and I just learnt not to buy Indian food from the Japanese.

What saved the meal was a quite decent coffee and a waffle with ice cream.

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Akanedoki Kanazawaekimae, Kanazawa, Japan

After having 2 lunches and a siesta I was looking for a later dinner than I normally have, so a search for somewhere near the hotel was in order.

I went up the stairs and was greeted by the staff. The restaurant was quite busy. All the booths were full and there were only a couple of empty seats at the large communal table that ran the length of the restaurant, one of which was given to me.

The staff were run off their feet so it took a bit of hand waving to get my hands on an English menu. I’ve learnt that it’s best to order your drink the moment you get the menu, that way they have to come back in the near future with your drink, and you can order your meal at that time.

The menu had a pretty good selection of meals, and they were quite reasonably priced.

I ordered some chicken yakitori and a pork lion. The yakitori came out first and was good. The pork lion took a little more time, and when it came out I was not disappointed. It was cooked superbly, and tasted great.

The only downside is that eating at a communal table you are close by to any patron who decides to light up a cigarette – and there were a couple of folk doing just that as I was eating.

But in all, a good entree, a decent main and a couple of beers for less than ¥3500.

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Chibo, Kanazawa, Japan

After the Beef and Egg rice at Shiroyamatei I did a quick explore of Kanazawa Castle and the gardens then headed off towards Omi-cho Market to have a look before it wound down for the day.

From Omi-chi Market I headed towards Kanazawa Station and my hotel looking for a snack. I made it all the way back to the station without finding much (it was after lunch hours) so decided to head into the Kanazawa Forus shopping complex. In Japan all shopping complexes have a floor or 2 of restaurants – it’s normally either the basement or somewhere near the top – in this case it was the 6th floor.

I did a quick scout around and settled on an Osaka-style Omonomiyaki restaurant called Chibo. I later found out that this is a chain of restaurants all around Japan.

I ordered a pork okonomiyaka – I had the option of having it cooked at my table or in the kitchen – I chose the kitchen.

Okonomiyaki takes time to make, so I was able polish off a pint of beer while I waited for the 15 minutes or so until my meal was delivered.

First impression was that the serving was on the small size but given that I’d already had the Beef and Egg rice meal about 3 hours earlier the size was just about right.

Taste-wise the okonomiyaka was good, not as good as what I got from Nagata-ya in Hiroshima, but very tasty nonetheless.

In all, a decent meal for the price.

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Shiroyamatei, Kanazawa, Japan

After my visit to Kenroku-en Gardens I was looking to get lunch before heading into Kanazawa Castle.

As I was walking to Ishikawa Gate I walked past a small selection of restaurants just below the gardens.

I chose Shiroyamatei.

Walking in around noon I was shown to an empty table and given an English menu. There is also a more traditional Japanese dining area towards the back of the restaurant which would become busy while I ate.

I ordered a dish of Beef and Egg Rice and and large beer. It took about 10 minutes for my meal to be served and I wasn’t disappointed.  There’s something about the way that the Japanese cook their onions in their dishes that make them so delicious!

Being in a touristy area the price was probably a little over the odds but you certainly can’t question the quality of the meal.

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Ishikawa-Mon, Kanazawa, Japan

After purchasing my day ticket for the Kanazawa Loop Bus service, I joined the long queue to people waiting for the bus, but in about 10 minutes I was in a seat on a local bus heading towards Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle. I followed the crowd and got off at the Ishikawa Gate bus stop and went for a little wander.

I was looking for a coffee and stumbled across a small coffee shop.

Wandering in I saw there was only one other customer and the lady who ran the shop. Despite the smell of stale smoke (yep, in Japan you can still smoke in restaurants and cafes) I ordered a coffee that was made in front me me using freshly ground coffee and a small drip filter. The taste was quite good, but as with most filter coffee it was watery.

Regardless, I ordered a second coffee as the other customer left.

As the only customer the owner was interested in where I was from, what I was doing in Kanazawa, where I had been in Japan and where I was going next, so we had a 15 minute chat while I finished my coffee. She pulled out an old atlas and we talked about Australia.

I also found out that she has been in this building almost all of her life, and she works in the coffee shop everyday of the year from 7:30am til 9pm. And only takes a couple of days off work every year. Dedication!

As I was paying to leave she pulled out a tourist map, gave it to me and pointed me in the direction of the Kenrokuen Garden and we said goodbye.

The friendliness of the local Japanese is constantly overwhelming and memorable.

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