It was Sunday and this was Kanazawa 金沢. On our previous visit two years ago, we enjoyed several Izakayas but this time, we arrived on Sunday and many of the Izakaya we visited the last time were closed. Our hotel was next to Kanazawa station and I looked for Izakaya within walking distance. I found this place "Maguro Ganchi" まぐろがんち. I read that "Ganchi" is a local dialect for local crabs called "Zuwaigani" ズワイガニ. So, this Izakaya specializes in Tuna and Crab. I am not sure this place is classified as a "chain" but they have one more Izakaya in Kanazawa called "Monzen" 底曳き割烹もんぜん. It was just 5 minute walk from our hotel.
This was the "Otoshi" appetizer. Needless to say we were quite surprised and have never seen anything like this before. It consisted of a portion of the ribs and back bone of a tuna. We ate it with spoons that were slightly curved at the corners--almost square shaped. (originally for Ice cream?) They were perfectly shaped for us to easily scoop the meat off the bones. The tuna meat attached to the bones is usually called "Nakaochi" 中落ち and is a good and economical portion of tuna. We have eaten tuna nakaochi before (often served in Krean "Yukke" style) but we have never seen Nakaochi served still attached to the bones. In any case, it was a fun to dig in and tuna was quite delicious. Of course we cleaned off all the good meat except the dark red "chiai" portion.
We then ordered a special maguro sashimi combination. It had red meat or akami 赤身 (left back), chutoro 中とろ (left front), ootro 大トロ (right front), kama-toro カマトロ(right back) and nouten 脳天 (center back). Among these different portions of tuna, the most precious are Kama-toro and Nouten. Kamatoro is fatty meat in the collar/head of tuna and nouten is small amount of very fatty meat in the top of the tuna head ("nouten" means "brain"). The amount you can get from one whole tuna for these two portions is very limited. This was the first time we had "nouten". All was excellent. It was almost like a “tuna tasting”; all the parts laid out side by side so we could compare the taste and texture of meat from various parts of the tuna.
We really liked the kama-toro and ordered additional servings; one as is and another "aburi" or seared by torch. We liked aburi best. We had several sake at this point. It came in a medium sized Tokkuri (They called it "large") supposedly holding 2go or 360ml but, somehow, it did not feel like 2go of sake (much less). In any case, we started with local (from Noto in Ishikawa 能登石川県) sake called "Sougen" 宗玄純米 which we dispatched quickly. As far as I can remember, we went for "Tedorigawa" 手取川山廃純米 and "Tengumai" 天狗舞山廃純米 (both also ”Jizake” 地酒 from Ishikawa prefecture 石川県). All sake was quite good but we liked Tengumai best.
Since we cannot pass up our Kanazawa favorites, we ordered firefly squid okizuke ホタルイカの沖ずけ and shiraebi kara-age 白エビのから揚げ.
Since it was not crab season, the only crab item available was "Crab croquet". It was hot and nicely creamy. Finally as a shime dish, we ordered fried potato. They were quite decent steak fries. The bill was very reasonable $103 (or 12,480yen).
We walked to our hotel and I immediately crashed. My wife enjoyed the sunset over the sea of Japan (a thin sliver of ocean can be seen from our windows) and took the picture below. This was really a fun day and we enjoyed good local sake and tuna.