This was my first time in Ishikawa Prefecture (coast of Sea of Japan) and I was excited about trying the food because a lot of people rave about the seafood there. I love onsen (hot spring) ryokans (inn)- you can enjoy the outdoor hot springs during the cold seasons and eat your dinner in the comfort of your own room. And then enjoy a nice hot bath after dinner as well! Growing up, I was very fortunate to have my parents take me to some of the best hot spring inns in Japan.
Araya is located in the town of Kaga. I had heard of Kaga because my company carries Kaga Miso (really good quality organic miso) and Tengumai (really good quality sake).
Dinner at Araya was impressive not just because the ingredients were of such high quality, but also because of the tableware they presented the food with. Ishikawa is known for its Kutaniyaki (Kutani pottery) and this inn uses a lot of Suda Seika’s work. Seika kiln is now operated by the 4th generation owner. Apparently they produced tableware for Rosanjin (a very famous Japanese artist). I ordered a bottle of Jokigen Yamahai, not realizing that my company imports it to the US :p Yamahais are always a great choice for pairing with a variety of foods.
[choice of sake cups- Kutani pottery and suzu (tin), which can mellow out sake flavors]
[Hassun- an assorted appetizer that is reflective of the season, for the beginning of a kaiseki meal]
[Yomogi (Artemisia princeps) tofu with uni and tonburi (these seeds known as “land caviar” ]
[Ebi shinjo (light fluffy minced shrimp) and nama fu]
[Fresh fresh sashimi from the Sea of Japan]
[Seasonal fresh bamboo shoot and fish (can’t remember what kind!)]
[Yam cake with a fava bean puree]
[Shiro ebi (white shrimp) tempura]
[One of the best kegani (hair crabs) I’ve ever had! Might even be better than Hokkaido…dare I say!]
[Hotaru ika (squid) for shabu shabu- but fresh enough to eat raw]
And after this amazing meal I went to the hot springs and took a nice bath as I breathed in the fresh spring night air of Kaga.