KANAZAWA - The Tsubomi cafe near the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, was launched in 2004 by the owner of Suginoi, a well-known traditional Japanese ryotei restaurant in Kanazawa.
"Ryotei customers are picky. I wanted to create a cafe that would meet their expectations," said Koichiro Koshizawa, 57, the second-generation owner of the luxury restaurant.
What Koshizawa seeks is "authenticity," he says. The cafe's specialty of honwarabi-mochi, a chewy jellylike dish, uses real warabi bracken powder, for example, an expensive ingredient that is usually replaced with potato starch in warabi-mochi. Bracken is a wild fern.
Some people may be surprised by its dark brown colour, as warabi-mochi made with starch is usually crystal clear. Its soft texture that melts on the tongue and unique aroma that spreads through the mouth are also evidence that it contains genuine warabi.
"Several customers have said our warabi-mochi is totally different from what they had eaten before," said the owner.
Kuromitsu black honey and soy powder are served with the mochi, perfect matches with the rich taste of honwarabi. A set of honwarabi-mochi and Kaga bo-cha, local tea that made from the roasted stems of tea plants instead of their leaves, costs ¥910 including tax. The aromatic flavor of the tea enhances the sweet taste.
The cafe also uses only springwater in its food and drinks, which makes the flavors milder, Koshizawa says. "We use well water when it snows a lot, as tap water spoils the real taste of the ingredients."
According to Koshizawa, half of the cafe's customers are area residents. Local university students who work there part-time serve foreign customers in English.
Open: 11:00 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Closed every Wednesday
Address: 3-1, Kakinokibatake, Kanazawa
Credit cards not accepted
English, Chinese and Korean menus with pictures available