New Improved Genki Debuts In KapahuluCover Story Features
July 10, 2016
Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO
When Genki Sushi first arrived in Hawaii in the early ’90s, the original shop in Kapahulu set the stage for the Japan-based dining chain to become a pioneering force in kaiten-style sushi, expanding over the years to fill the hearts and tummies of Island patrons throughout 14 locations statewide. As the household name continues to evolve its operation with a series of renovations to its longstanding eateries, the company is coming full circle with its latest revamp, which debuted July 1 in the same cozy neighborhood where it all started.
You may be picturing the stand-alone building at 885 Kapahulu Ave., where Genki was located for the past decade at least, but the newly revealed eatery now open to the public actually is situated across the street within the Safe-way complex, aka Kapahulu Shopping Center. Many diners may not know — though old-timers will remember — that the restaurant’s journey across the street is more like a homecoming of sorts, as the very first Kapahulu Genki was in the same vicinity as the current shopping center, prior to moving to its former 885 address.
“This was where the first Genki was in Kapahulu, so it’s like coming back home,” says director of purchasing David Moon.
In addition to being outfitted with a fresh, clean and modern look, the new Genki Sushi offers perks such as more parking and a slew of new menu items. When dining in, customers can munch on recently debuted Seared Spicy Ebi ($3.15) for a flavorful shrimp experience, or take a refreshing bite of Ebi or Salmon Summer Rolls ($3.15 each) drizzled with sweet chili sauce, which are perfectly light for the hottest season of the year. Fans of Genki’s signature Ultimate Trio A, which offers salmon, ahi and hamachi topped with sweet and creamy sauces, also will be excited to try Ultimate Trio B ($5.15), a new take on the nigiri-style offering that substitutes unagi for the salmon.
Genki Sushi caters to hungry diners looking to grab something on the go as well. The Kapahulu branch is the only location to offer an exclusive menu of bentos (see yellow box above), and it also makes available everyone’s favorite party platters and sushi sets for those who have come to rely on the various assortments for a wide range of get-togethers. Moon underlines Genki Sets as the ideal choice for patrons who don’t need a large platter, but still want some takeout sushi to feed one to two people. Genki Set No. 2, for example, offers California roll and tamago, inari, ahi, ika and ebi nigiri for only $10. “It has a little bit of everything,” he describes.
When it comes to providing convenient, affordable and satisfying dining experiences, Genki Sushi always is raising the bar. This is evident in the Bullet Express technology the company has put into numerous renovated locations, including Kapahulu. The double-rail delivery system transports sushi directly to your table with lightning-like speed via carriers that resemble trains and race cars. Diners may use the Bullet Express to order their favorite menu items via easy-to-use touchscreens, making your mealtime more efficient — and fun — than ever.
While Genki in Kapahulu is now the fifth store in the chain operation to feature the high-tech delivery system, it is the first to showcase it throughout the entire eatery, completely eliminating the need for a standard conveyor belt. “We’re changing the face of kaiten,” says Moon. “It’s still kaiten sushi (with the Bullet Express), but the delivery method is a little bit different.”
The just-opened eatery is a glowing example of the way Genki Sushi is modernizing its signature dining experience. Next up for the company is a renovation of its Maui Mall location on the Valley Isle, which is slated to begin this summer.
BENT ON BENTOS
Offered exclusively at the new Kapahulu branch, Genki Sushi’s bentos are ideal for those in search of a quick bite on the go. With five options to choose from, the bentos serve up everything from chicken karaage, egg and hot dog to gyoza and spring rolls, all alongside furikake-speckled sushi rice. Ahi lovers in particular are sure to fall head over heels for Poke Combo Bento ($7.99), presenting classic ahi poke and spicy tuna in a takeout-friendly box.
Kapahulu Shopping Center
888 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu
(and various locations)
Sunday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.