Not Your Average Sushi Spot

Ali Carte Columns

March 30, 2014

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Whether the bells at school are ringing, the workday is finally pau, or a surf session is coming to an end, kamaaina turn to Genki Sushi when in need of an easy, affordable spot to find a quality meal. What started as a string of eateries in Japan more than 20 years ago has since grown into an internationally popular sushi chain with locations around the world. Here in the Islands alone, an impressive 13 branches have popped up since 1992.

So what is it about the kaiten-style establishment, in which customers hand select menu items from a conveyor belt filled with enticing edibles, that is so universally appealing? According to Hawaii-based director of purchasing David Moon, Genki’s success is in part thanks to its ability to adapt over time to changing tastes with an evolving, diverse dining selection.

“Our original menu was really small, just basically sushi and nothing else really,” explains Moon. “But as we progressed through the years, we added a variety (of items) to make it family oriented — with something for children, some healthy things — and as the menu grew, we found that customers tend to like different varieties, not just sushi.”

One way Genki has expanded its core repertoire of traditional sushi and nigiri is by offering an eclectic slew of rolls. While patrons only had a few types to choose from at first, the menu now includes at least 20 options. Just last year, the franchise unveiled a Bacon Roll ($3.80) featuring smoked strips of pork that not only rest on top of the sushi, but also are woven into the roll itself. Together with crab, cucumber, avocado and a creamy sauce, the dish holds true to the widely accepted foodie philosophy that everything tastes better with bacon.

To accompany each piece of fresh sushi, Genki goes beyond Japanese borders to offer diners a world of cuisine in one meal. Many of these items are sure to satisfy indulgent cravings as well. “I’ve found that people like fried items in Hawaii,” says Moon, who recommends keiki-friendly Chicken Wings ($3.80). This classic pupu exhibits all the crispy goodness one could hope for in a fried food.

Meals are more complete with Vegetable Spring Roll ($2.80) as well, which presents crunchy golden shells stuffed with strands of cabbage, green beans, mushroom, onion, vermicelli, tofu bean curd and carrots. Diners also appreciate the delicate flavors of Agedashi Tofu ($2.80), a side dish consisting of fried tofu cubes sprinkled with green onion and nori that rest in savory dashi broth.

In an effort to stay on top of the latest food trends, Genki Sushi is always unveiling new menu items. Just as it has done in the past, the chain will continue to offer that ideal sushi fix — and more.

Genki Sushi

1200 Ala Moana Blvd.
Open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

(and various locations)

Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, HI 96814

Ward Farmers Market, Hon, HI 96814

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best