With its historic, well-preserved streets where geisha once walked and artisans continue their crafts today, Kanazawa, in Ishikawa Prefecture, is well known as Little Kyoto. But it is also developing a solid reputation as a centre for contemporary art and culture, since being registered in UNESCOâ€™s Creative Cities Network.
Coil is a wonderful example of the cityâ€™s successful blending of tradition and modernity. It sells itself as a place for visitors â€śseeking genuine sights, tastes and senses of Japanese tradition with a modern touch,â€ť and it doesnâ€™t disappoint.
The core concept is high-quality Hosomaki sushi and side dishes that customers choose, learn about, and enjoy assembling meals their way.
Before entering the restaurant, I knew our dinner would be a unique experience. The space was like a gallery â€“ spacious and open, with pieces of contemporary art dotted about. Even the Japanese tea bar, set up so customers could enjoy a do-it-yourself tea ceremony, was a work of art, with rows of beautiful traditional cups, hot water pots and wooden serving ladles. The creativity continued in the presentation of the soup bar, with monaka (wafer) soup varieties lined up with colourful labels.
There is a choice of Western-style tables and chairs or low tables on tatami matting. The standard set of Hosomaki sushi (thin rolls of rice and topping wrapped in nori seaweed) comes in three sizes: five, six or eight toppings. All options come with sushi rice spread out on nori and layered in a beautiful wooden box, assorted condiments, tempura, egg custard and gelato.
The eight toppings comprise salted firefly squid and squid ink, pickled sweet shrimp, Okinawan spinach seasoned with soy sauce, Noto-beef sukiyaki, pickled yellowtail, fugu fish egg and cream cheese, duck with truffle, and fermented turnip.
As Hosomaki is traditionally eaten with fillings such as tuna, cucumber or umeboshi (pickled plum), the sushi offered by Coil is a luxurious treat, even for Japanese customers.
A staff member explained how to place the toppings on the rice and use the makisu mat to roll it up before showing how to make the tea and soup. A sake tasting set is also available.
Coil combines a fun culinary activity and a delicious dinner, so itâ€™s great for groups short on time. It is also convenient to access, standing a kilometre from both Kanazawa Station and the Kanazawa Castle Park complex which houses Kenroku-en Garden. Up to 50 pax can be accommodated if all seating areas are used.
The eight-topping set is JPY 5,000 (US$47) plus tax. To cater for dietary needs, there is a vegan set, a low carb set with cauliflower rice, and an a la carte option, whereby customers choose from more than 40 kinds of fish, seafood, meat and vegetables.
The staff were friendly and eager to help. They were also knowledgeable in recommending sake to accompany the dishes. The standard of food was excellent and presented beautifully, and we even received a little souvenir to take home.
Tel: (81) 76 256 5076