Eating at Kanae in busy Kamakura can be a challenge on several levels: 1) Finding the restaurant might be possible only for those with excellent map skills. 2) Some of the seasonal dishes may be too rustic for those of a less adventurous appetite and 3) It can often be extremely crowded.
However, for those travelers who enjoy a bit of a challenge, Kanae is a great experience in Japanese cooking and overall unique aesthetic. And, while these issues may be off-putting to the casual traveler, there are easy ways to get around them.
1. Finding your way to Kanae
Luckily, Kanae is located off of one of the main side roads from the east exit of Kamakura station. Follow the crowds walking up Komachi Dori, and chances are you will walk right past Kanae without even realizing it. Look for a small pathway to the right hand side about 10 minutes walk from the station. Using a smartphone or GPS might be necessary for those less directionally inclined.
2. Traversing the menu
While some of the seasonal dishes can seem a bit too exotic for some (see picture of pork entrails in a miso stew), the normal menu is full of other, more standard traditional fare such as tempura, sashimi, and miso soup. Their largest lunch set (which is not to be underestimated) also comes with a sweet plum wine - perfect for an afternoon relaxer. They also offer a tea set, with freshly prepared matcha tea and one of their delicious house sweets.
3. Beating the crowd
The crowds are unfortunately a part of Kamakura - it seems that everyone knows how important this town is in Japanese history. Kanae is often crowded as a result, but going during the off season (such as during the winter) really makes a difference, even on the weekends.
Besides the traditional fare, Kanae sets itself apart from other restaurants in the area with its incredible interior. Half of the restaurant is communal seating at large, wooden tables featuring a charcoal pit in the middle of each. Additionally, there are giant worms with fish hooks and iron fish descending from the ceiling - these serve to hold iron kettles over the coal pit. Each coal pit is cutely manicured, and the giant worms definitely add an interesting, whimsical mood to the air.
If you take the time to seek out Kanae, you won't be disappointed. This restaurant is unique in more ways than one.