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Hoppin’ On a Delectable Sushi Train

Cover Story

March 18, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

Front of house lead supervisor Kyra Olaso offers up Garlic Chicken Bento To Go and a Squid Karaage Bento To Go with a spicy tuna substitution.

No matter what time of day or evening you visit Genki Sushi at Pearlridge Uptown, there might be a sizable line of customers waiting for seats. This is, after all, one of Hawaii’s best-known, much-loved sushi restaurants.

Don’t worry! Even if there’s a line, you likely won’t have to wait too long. And this is the only restaurant at Pearl-ridge Center with its own Bullet Express.

Named for Japan’s high-speed trains, the Bullet Express is a double-rail sushi delivery system that kids of all ages find delightful. Genki’s interactive, automated ordering process begins when guests place their orders on tablet touchscreen menus. Within a few short moments, plates of hand-crafted nigiri, gunkan and hand-rolled sushi are speedily delivered to happy diners on surfboards, trains, space shuttles and Formula One racecars.

Garlic Chicken Bento To Go ($7.99)

The system is fast, easy to use, and fun. On Dining Out‘s recent visit, two boys navigated the touchscreen menu while their mom waited patiently for them to make their selections.

“What’s that one?” the younger kid asked his big brother, pointing at an image on the tablet.

The older boy studied the words under the photo for a moment. “Dragon Roll!”

Chicken Karaage Bento To Go ($7.99) with spicy tuna substitution (additional $1.50)

“Awesome!” the little brother yelled. “Let’s get some!”

Within minutes, the boys were happily munching on their dragon rolls and looking for new things to sample. The Bullet Express, also featured at Genki Sushi’s Ala Moana, Waikele, Kaneohe and Kapahulu locations, can be a great way to encourage kids to try new foods.

Crunchy Roll is new to Genki Sushi and features crab, avocado and fried shrimp, along with tempura crisps and unagi sauce on top.

For the busiest customers, those who don’t even have time for the high-speed Bullet Express, Genki Sushi’s brand-new Bentos To Go are a perfect option. At $7.99 each, the little boxes are stuffed with a delectable assortment of treats, beginning with your choice of garlic chicken, squid or chicken karaage, or chicken katsu. Then, select two sushi options from a list that includes inari, California rolls, kappa maki, oshinko maki, kanpyo maki and ume maki. For just $1.50 more, you can opt to substitute spicy tuna or ahi poke instead of sushi.

To complete the meal, each bento includes salad and cold tofu. They’re now offered at all of Genki Sushi’s Hawaii locations.

Squid Karaage Bento To Go ($7.99) with ahi poke substitution (additional $1.50)

Roughly translated, genki is the Japanese word for “vigor,” and it’s appropriate, as many of the items on the menu here are not only delicious but nutritious, too. Salmon and ahi sashimi, edamame, miso soup, avocado maki and several different salads are available for those seeking lighter fare. And the chain’s combination and party platters, ranging in price from $22 to $57, are perfect for large gatherings.

As the two little boys finish their tamago, ebi fry and dragon rolls, their attention is diverted. This time, they’re captivated by a new selection of plates passing by on the kaiten belt — Genki Sushi’s original automated delivery system.

“Cupcakes!” they holler in unison, eliciting chuckles from the other diners and a bit of hushing from their mother.

Chicken Katsu Bento To Go ($7.99)

“All right, go ahead, guys,” Mom says after a moment. “Grab one for me, too!”

A one-way ticket to satisfaction

When Genki Sushi opened in Kapahulu in 1993, it was a runaway hit with islanders who loved the concept of kaiten — literally, “revolving” — sushi. The conveyor-belt delivery system was the 1968 brainchild of Fumio Saito, a young Japanese sushi chef. Twenty years later, Genki Sushi’s first Bullet Express was introduced at Ala Moana. All new stores feature the Bullet Express, and existing locations are gradually being retrofitted.

>When in Rome

Many worldwide franchises feature items on their international menus that are unique to the regions in which they’re located. Genki Sushi is no exception! If you travel to the store in Shibuya, Japan, you can try hamburger nigiri. In Singapore, sample steamed egg custard with crabmeat. Indonesia‘s location features chuka jellyfish, and the Manila store offers cheese premium shrimp. And if you visit the Genki Sushi in Santa Ana, California, be sure to try Ice Cake Tiramisu.

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