Considered to be one of the oldest and biggest markets in Japan, Omicho Market is found in the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, Kanazawa. The
bustling fresh food market is visited by both locals and tourists who come to see the freshly caught seafood or dine in local restaurants to try Kanazawa food. If you have come to Kanazawa looking for food, the shops and stalls found inside the market are ready to fill your tummies!
Less crowded than Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market and much more spacious than Kyoto’s Nishiki Market, Omicho Ichiba, or Omicho Market, is Kanazawa’s largest fresh food market that has been serving the city since 1721. Fondly called as, “Kanazawa’s Kitchen,” Omicho Market houses more than 180 stores that sell a variety of food items including the locally harvested Kaga vegetables, and fresh seafood caught in the Sea of Japan. Being located on the coast of the Sea of Japan, the locals take great pride in their seafood. If snacks and samples from stores are not enough to satisfy your hunger, you can visit one of Omicho Market’s many restaurants.
Here are some top foods to try in Omicho Market!
One’s Kanazawa trip is not complete without tasting the star of Kanazawa’s food culture: seafood. There are restaurants and stalls that sell such a variety of seafood dishes inside Omicho Market that you’ll never run out of options for things to eat in Kanazawa! If you are not sure where to begin, you can always start with the different stalls that sell fresh seafood from fish to sea urchin, and some of them offer free samples to help you decide what you want to buy. One such stall is Kaidoya where you can try dishes such as the spicy pickled squid or, if you want more flavor, the spicy-salted sweet shrimp.
Croquette (or korokke in Japanese) is originally a French dish but it is so well-loved by the Japanese that they have also made a version of their own, with some regions having their own specialty croquette. Of course, in true Kanazawa style, they include seafood as a croquette filling and Omicho Croquette is quite popular. Made by hand, they have a variety of flavors for their croquettes like meat, curry, squash, octopus, crab, and their most popular item, the sweet shrimp croquette. They serve them while hot, but better come early as a line to the shop tends to build up in the afternoon and by evening, their food gets sold out!
If we are talking about the best seafood in town, we cannot miss trying out the local sushi. Being a city located near the sea has its advantages, such as having seafood ingredients that aren’t available anywhere else. Mori Mori Sushi, a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, is one such place where you can taste some of Kanazawa’s best foods. Mori Mori Sushi is a popular local restaurant chain that has branches all over the city, including Omicho Market. This sushi restaurant can be easily spotted just by looking for two things: its wooden façade and bright interior, and the long line outside its doors.
There are three Kanazawa specialties that you should try in Mori Mori Sushi: the premium rosy seabass, the rich and creamy gasu ebi (sweet shrimp), and the snow crab – a Kanazawa winter delicacy.
If you were only able to eat one dish when you’re in Kanazawa, the kaisendon, or sashimi rice bowl, is what you should try. A hot bowl of rice topped with slices of raw fish sounds like the best of Kanazawa’s local cuisine! Kanazawa restaurants that serve kaisendon can be found anywhere in the city, especially in Omicho Market.
However, if you want to get a taste of the market’s best seafood, try visiting Kotetsu, a cozy seafood restaurant that seats only nine people at its counter. Its seafood is sourced directly from the Omicho Market and its most popular dish, the kaisendon, is a luxurious combination of 13 to 14 kinds of seafood on top of Ishikawa Prefecture’s specialty Koshihikari rice.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, one dish you can certainly try is the Kanazawa curry. As its name suggests, it is a type of Japanese curry that originated in Kanazawa. What characterizes a real Kanazawa curry is its sauce with a thick consistency, enough to cover the rice, topped with tonkatsu, and served in a stainless bowl. For an authentic experience, Champion's Curry is the place to go. They have been making the curry for over 50 years now and people have been coming back to eat more of their special secret sauce.
Nothing beats eating a good dessert after a good meal. The locals love a good soft serve ice cream and at Omicho Market, you can find it in Tanatsuya, a small shop run by the Kanazawa Daichi farm. The shop sells a unique Kanazawa specialty – a jiro ame soft-serve ice cream. An original Kanazawa treat, jiro ame is a candy made with barley and rice. Using brown rice amazake (a type of naturally sweet fermented rice beverage) as an alternative to sugar, Tanatsuya’s jiro ame ice cream is a lightly flavored treat perfect to finish off a meal.
To complete your Kanazawa food experience, Kanazawa sake is a must-try. Not only is Kanazawa known for its seafood, but it is also known to be a city to have some of the finest Japanese sake (specifically, known as “nihonshu” in Japanese) in the country. For 400 years, the city has been producing some of Japan’s best sake with rice from the Kaga Plain, and water from the Saigawa and Asanogawa rivers. Kanazawa is also home to 3 famous sake breweries: Fukumitsuya, Yachiya, and Nakamura Shuzou. In Omicho Market, there is a sake shop called Sake no Ohzawa Jizake Ichiba where you can try the sake from these three breweries, as well as other brands.
Kanazawa is truly blessed with some of the best food ingredients nature can provide – rice from the Kaga Plain and seafood from the Sea of Japan, with sake made with water from its two rivers! Anyone who visits Kanazawa will not only enjoy its well-preserved castle, traditional houses, and garden, but also its thriving local cuisine.
Japan’s coastal places are some of the best destinations to go to. If you have gone to visit Kanagawa, a coastal prefecture in the Kanto region, you’ll know that you’re in for a real treat when you visit Kanazawa.
Omicho Market is just 15 minutes away from Kanazawa Station on foot. You can also reach the market by by bus (get on the Kanazawa Loop Bus and get off at the Musashigatsuji Bus Stop). Omicho Market is also a few minutes' walk away from Kanazawa Castle and Kenroku-en Garden which you can visit afterward.