Go for the Genki ExperienceCover Story Features
May 11, 2014
Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
Genki Sushi has always been a mecca of sorts for sushi purists. Aside from accentuating the flavor of the fish in its selections, the restaurant chain has also kept pace with the postmodern flair of innovative sushi concepts, as evidenced by its eclectic array of condiments and cooking techniques.
A rapidly growing empire in Asia and the Pacific, Genki Sushi boasts more than 140 establishments in Japan alone, and 71 eateries spread throughout China, Indonesia, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Here in the Islands, Genki Sushi first opened shop in Kapahulu in 1992, and has since added eight locations on Oahu, two on Maui, one in Kona and one in Kukui Grove on Kauai. Other U.S. establishments include three in Washington State and one in California.
Genki Sushi captivates the masses with its kaiten style of dining, as the restaurant presents a fusion of sushi and more on a revolving conveyor belt. This past July, Genki Sushi USA upgraded its serving method to include its first touch-screen order, double-rail delivery system. The Ala Moana Center restaurant was the first establishment in the nation to put this high-tech system to the test.
“Recently, May 2, we premiered the largest innovate technology delivery system from Japan at our newly renovated Waikele Center restaurant, featuring 98 seats and three double-rail, high-tech systems,” says Mary Hansen, chief administrative officer of Genki Sushi USA Inc.
The new sushi delivery system makes ordering from the menu as simple and efficient as possible. When seated, patrons are presented with a touch-screen panel before them, where they can scroll through the expansive menu, selecting up to four orders at a time. Within less than a minute, diners receive their orders via a bullet train, F-1 race car, surfboard, space shuttle or kayiki fish on the revolving conveyor belt.
Yet, don’t be fooled by the speedy service, because although kaiten-style sushi can be perceived as “fast-food,” the quality is unsurpassed.
“Each location has a number of sushi specialists who are trained by skilled chefs from Japan,” confirms Hansen.
Chefs pick up butane torches and delicately sear slices of ahi, salmon and hamachi, which are carefully placed atop nigiri sushi, then topped with unagi and drizzled with spicy and garlic sauces to create Ultimate Trio ($4.80). Genki’s Spicy Tempura Roll ($4.80), an ebi roll topped with spicy tuna, is a hit with kamaaina, as is the No. 1 favorite Spicy Tuna Gunkan ($2.80), featuring ahi chunks mixed with a special spicy sauce. Genki Sushi’s die-hard fans devour Spicy Tuna in one bite because it’s unimaginable that you would eat it any other way.
The traditionalist prefers an authentic Ahi nigiri ($3.80), while the contemporary palate is eager to delve into one of Genki’s most recent offerings, including Bacon Roll. Priced at $3.80, this sushi trend-setter consists of morsels of avocado, imitation crab meat and bacon nestled in inside-out rolls that, of course, are adorned with crispy strips of bacon. The price of each item is identified by a colored ring around the plate — yellow ($1.50), green ($2.20), red ($2.80), silver ($3.80) and black ($4.95).
Nervous about proper sushi etiquette? Don’t be. Genki Sushi hosts a family-friendly atmosphere that welcomes people of all ages. According to Hansen, a closer look at the menu will tell you that quality sushi is just one of many options to choose from.
“Our menu has something for everyone,” she adds. “To give our customers more choices, over time we’ve expanded the menu to include highly requested items such as Potato Fries, Udon, Kalbi Bowl and Stuffed Mushrooms, to name a few.”
Assorted Vegetable Tempura ($3.80) is another coveted item, showcasing a medley of mushrooms, kabocha and string beans.
“Our mission here at Genki Sushi is to bring sushi within reach of everyone, and to introduce a unique Japanese dining experience to the world. The customer always comes first, and we will never stop improving at upgrading our skills,” Hansen says.
1200 Ala Moana Blvd. and various other locations
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.