Shintenchi is in a corner of the largest entertainment district in the Hokuriku district, Katamachi in Kanazawa. Tokyo has its Golden-gai area in Shinjuku, and Yokohama has the Noge area. These three areas all have a somewhat suspicious aspect, but they’re also irresistable.

Akagi is one of the older places in Shintenchi. Every morning, Akagi’s master goes to the mountains in search of wild plants and vegetables. In the evening he cooks it all up as a treat for his beloved customers. He’s lived this life for over 30 years.

Wild vegetables in spring, mushrooms in autumn, “iwana” (char fish) and “yamame” (brook trout) are served in season, but midsummer requires the master’s special touch. That’s the time for the fun of menu experimentation. I hardly ever see meat on the menu at Akagi, but today he was offering diced steak, so I ordered it. Where and how did he find this delicious beef? The seasoning is quite simple, so Master Akagi himself must have brought out the best in the ingredients.

“Katsuo no tataki” (raw bonito slices) isn’t usually a restaurant menu item, but it’s sometimes a special treat for the cognoscenti. Years ago, I joined several well-regarded Kanazawa chefs in drinking a rare “shochu” (an alcoholic beverage) with “katsuo no tataki.” I can’t forget the joyful look on their faces.