Tech-forward serviceRestaurant Insider
November 6, 2023
Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: Genki Sushi
Genki Sushi has been a favorite in Hawaii for more than 31 years. It was founded in 1968 by a young sushi chef named Fumio Saito, who at the young age of 24 envisioned a revolutionary way to introduce sushi to the masses through kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi).
Genki Sushi opened in Hawaii to give Japanese customers a comfortable place to dine when visiting. With more than 360 restaurants around the world, there is a location virtually everywhere. The Ewa Beach location recently went through a renovation and will debut new and exciting offerings at its grand reopening on Nov. 7.
I met with purchasing and site operations manager David Moon, a 20-plus-year veteran of the company, who shared what is new and exciting at the restaurant chain.
AL: How do you determine what is on the menu?
DM: Before each season starts, they start talking about the menu and think up different ideas to bring forth a blend of Japanese and local flavors. We take a consensus from each Genki Sushi location and ask the staff what would be good to add to the menu. We like to use local ingredients, like fresh local ahi. We wanted to share the technology — the first conveyor belt, the bullet express and sushi robot, all created in Japan. Our goal is to bring together an affordable family dining atmosphere, quality sushi and Japanese food items at reasonable prices in a unique dining setting.
AL: The Ewa Beach location added new bentos that will kick off at the grand reopening Nov. 7. Can you tell me more about them?
DM: We will have three new Ewa bentos, which feature a tray of delicious food and a bowl of miso soup. This will be specially priced for the month of November in honor of the reopening. The options are as follows:
• Traditional Japanese Sushi & Squid Combo Bento ($22) with sushi rice, maguro slice, salmon slice, ebi, unagi, nori (for band), fried squid, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, kanikama, ponzu sauce, tamago, cold tofu, bonito, green onion, ocean salad, gari and miso soup.
• Local Favorite Spicy Tuna & Ebi Fry Bento ($20) with rice, spicy tuna, green onion, ebi fry, tonkatsu sauce, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, kanikama, ponzu sauce, tamago, cold tofu, bonito, green onion, ocean salad, gari and miso soup.
• The Most Popular Sushi & Chicken Bento ($18) is the most popular. It has a California roll, inari, chicken karaage, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, cucumber, kanikama, ponzu sauce, tamago, cold tofu, bonito, green onion, ocean salad, gari and miso soup.
AL: There are two new additions to your waitstaff: robot waiters. Tell me more about them.
DM: We actually learned about these robots at Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Hotel & Restaurant Show. This is a very intelligent service robot that is programed to help deliver food. We have two in Ewa Beach to test how well they work. We ask that you download the app and place your order like you would on the tablet, and your food will come to your table either by the robot or on the conveyor belt. We were the first to bring a lot of new technology (all created in Japan) to Hawaii: the first conveyor belt, the bullet express and sushi robot (these patented machines can make 3,000 sushi rolls per hour). Having robot waiters just made sense.
AL: Can you tell me more about the Genki Sushi logo?
DM: It is actually a caricature of the founder Fumio Saito’s face. Bushy eyebrows, rosy cheeks — and it’s not showing anger, it’s showing determination to give the restaurant patrons the best sushi. In addition, “genki” means happy, healthy, cheerful and lively.
AL: Anything else you want to share?
DM: Genki Sushi is a company rooted in Hawaii and committed to supporting our communities, we are rallying together to aid those affected by the devastating wildfires on Maui. We have started a Maui Strong initiative to help bring relief and assistance to the communities impacted by these wildfires. Genki Sushi Ltd. is donating $50,000 to Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. Additionally, Genki Sushi will be donating every month for the rest of the year to support the communities of Maui. The spirit of resilience runs strong through the people of Maui, and now, they need our help more than ever. Your donation, no matter the size, can help those in need. To donate, visit genkisushiusa.com/mauistrong.php.