For one of the most delicious meals in Ishikawa head up to Flatt’s by the Sea located along the 249 in Noto-cho. Owned by an Australian-Japanese couple, Flatt’s is well known for its bakery, which serves up over a dozen different breads and pastries daily. In addition to the bakery, the chef/owner, Ben, crafts a seasonal Italian menu that utilizes Noto ingredients. The results are spectacular and certainly worth even a two or three-hour drive from Kanazawa.
There is no menu at Flatt’s, neither a la carte nor course. When making a reservation the customer chooses one of three options: a 5-course, 6-course, or 7-course menu that range from 3000 to 5000 yen. Up until the time of service, the customer only knows that there will be a soup course, a fish course, a pasta course, and a dessert. There is no hint to any of the ingredients. This may seem awkward given the price tag, but you should not hesitate in entrusting Ben with your dinner.
In December, a friend and I had the six-course menu and it was stunning. Everything was beautifully prepared and more than once I said, “This is the best thing I’ve ever tasted.” Foodies talk about taste memories and how the way you know whether a meal was truly good or not is if you are left with taste memories. Well, I was left with several of them. The fish course was the best piece of fish I have ever tasted. Coming from New England, one of the fish capitals of the United States, that is saying a lot. And the shellfish course with sweetened eggplant may actually have been the best thing I have ever tasted. The pasta course with crab and cream sauce was rich, but light enough not to fill me up. The only disappointing course was dessert – a chocolate cake. Although tasty, it was a plain ending for such a great meal.
Twice during the meal Ben came out to talk about his food. He explained that the restaurant makes everything in-house. This includes ishiri, soy sauce made from squid, which takes two years to prepare. Also, all of the produce is sourced from Ben and his family’s farms. The only thing brought in from outside is the fish, which Ben buys daily at local auctions. The reason the fish tastes so good, Ben said, is because Noto fisherman come in the same day they go out, rather than spending three or four days at sea. Thus, nothing is ever frozen and is as fresh as can be.
I cannot recommend Flatt’s highly enough. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date or even a party with friends. Considering the quality of the food, the price is an unbelievable steal. Everyone living in Ishikawa should take advantage of this at least once, especially those of us living in the Noto.
Reservations are mandatory at Flatt’s. It is recommended that you book at least two weeks in-advance. Flatt’s was featured in the latest Lonely Planet guide and has thus become a popular destination for tourists and can fill up quickly. Dinner starts at 6:00, but can be moved back to as late as 7:30 by special request. Flatt’s can only serve 30 people per night, so parties bigger than that are likely not possible.
If your Japanese is not great and you are concerned about making a reservation, fear not because both Ben and his wife speak English and they handle all of the reservations. Information about reservations and Flatt’s in general can be found at their website.
GO TO FLATT’S!