21 October 2016
White peach parfait (inset) comes with a rich texture. Outside the cafe are thousand-year-old trees. Photos:, HKEJ
White peach parfait (inset) comes with a rich texture. Outside the cafe are thousand-year-old trees. Photos:, HKEJ

Kanazawa: Golden sweet city frozen in time

Kanazawa, capital of Ishikawa Prefecture on Japan’s central Honshu Island, is not a golden city for nothing.

It produces 99 percent of the country’s high-quality edible gold leaf used as toppings and wrapping on ice cream and fine food.

A soft serve ice cream cone becomes a highly sought-after commodity when topped with the golden additive.

A vanilla ice cream costs more than twice the regular price but it comes completely wrapped in three gold leaves.

Likewise, you could get a 24-karat gold leaf facial mask and give your skin total rejuvenation.

Gold is everywhere in Kanazawa but it doesn’t feel like you’re in a gaudy place.

A friend told me I shouldn’t miss the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art.

I hesitated for a moment. Although I majored in Chinese arts and culture, I have never been an artistic person.

But I’m glad I went.

What struck me the most was the chance to try the café.

I decided to drop in on Le Musēe de H Kanazawa before visiting the Kenrokuen Garden.

It took me 30 minutes to get a seat but it was time well spent.

Given the large open kitchen, hungry customers could admire the pastry chefs in action with their sophisticated craftsmanship in full display.

Outside the glass-walled cafe are trees more than a thousand years old.

I could imagine myself being sentimental just having coffee and cake while gazing at the ancient trees.

The few dishes I picked were all superb but there was a problem.

The Japanese white peach parfait, I was told, was in season but was limited to sales of 30 glasses daily.

And the dozen cakes I had planned to try were as tempting as they were rare.

My solution: come early the next day and see what happens.

As it turned out, it was all worth it.

The parfait came with a rich, complex texture and flavors.

Having had my fill, I still had room for more, especially for some of the cakes I missed the day before.

But it was time to go. I had to rush if I wasn’t to be late for the historic tour of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama villages, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 31.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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