I LOVE Japanese food. From Salmon Sashimi and California Maki to Ebi Tempura and Salmon Teriyaki to Matcha Ice Cream and Japanese Cheesecake… Every bite is a joy to my senses. Japanese cuisine is so rich in fish and seafood dishes that I do not feel deprived at all even if I skip the Beef Sukiyaki and the Beef Teppanyaki.
So, every time there is a new Japanese restaurant opening in town, be it a fast-food chain or a full-fledged restaurant, I get all excited to try its food. With so many Japanese restaurants competing for diners’ attention, however, it is no longer just the food that they concentrate on. They also focus on the ambiance as well as the concept to be able to provide diners with an exquisite dining experience that people will keep coming back for.
One of the best new Japanese concept restaurants—and my personal favorite—is Genki Sushi. It puts more fun into Japanese casual dining by incorporating high-tech gadgets into the order-and-delivery system.
The setup of the dining area is simple, as it maximizes space by utilizing booth seating. But each booth has its own iPad complete with a visual menu of all the dishes, names and prices. You make your order by touching the photo of the dish you want. You can order one to four dishes at the same time, and once you do, the orders are transmitted to the kitchen, who prepare the dishes right away. As soon as the dishes are ready, they are sent out via the Kousoku Express System. The first such fully functional, double-deck system of its kind in Manila and outside of Japan, this highly sophisticated serving innovation intelligently delivers food to the dining tables in 5 to 10 minutes. Shaped like a Shinkansen bullet train or Formula One car, the Kousoku train where the plates of food are placed run down a winding track located above the main conveyor belt, and stops right in front of the table that ordered them. This unique food delivery system is programmed to slow down upon reaching the diners’ table and gives out an alert to announce that the food has arrived. After diners shall have unloaded the Kousoku train, they need to press a button to send the train back to the kitchen for the next order.
That’s the exciting part. The Kousoku Express System is an improvement over the already exciting kaiten sushi concept that some Japanese restaurants have earlier utilized. ‘Kaiten’ literally translates to ‘revolving’, and the concept is having a revolving conveyor belt that strategically passes each dining table. On the conveyor belt and making the rounds of the tables are color-coded plates serving different kinds of sushi. When diners spot the sushi—or maki (rolls) or temaki (cone –shaped sushi)—that they like, they take it and pay for it later. Genki Sushi’s Kousoku system is an improvement over the Kaiten system in the sense that each order is prepared fresh and sent out fresh, too. The Kousoku system also delivers donburis, salads, mains and desserts; not just sushi and maki.
I find it really fun to order through the iPad and have my orders delivered to me by a ‘stretched-out’ Formula One car. I also like the fact that I can check my bill onscreen way before I actually check out.
Each booth is also equipped with a flowing hot water system and a container of powdered matcha green tea that allows diners to have as much green tea as they want to wash down their food with.
More than a fun and exciting concept, Genki Sushi is also always full because the food is good. There are a lot of choices on the menu. Among rolls alone, the selections are endless. Classics, such as Salmon Sashimi (Php200 for 4 slices), Tuna Sashimi (Php200 for 4 slices), and California Maki (Php150 for 4 pieces), still enjoy strong patronage, although diners also like trying out innovative variations, including Salmon Skin Handroll (Php80 per piece), which is temaki or cone-shaped maki; Salmon Roe Handroll (Php250 per piece), Northern Shrimp Sushi (Php80 for 2 pieces, each piece with 2 shrimps), Seared Shrimp with Black Pepper Sushi (Php120 for 2 pieces), Crispy Spicy Salmon Roll (Php150 for 3 pieces), Shrimp Roe (Php80 for 2 pieces), Lobster Salad (Php120 for 2 pieces), Flying Fish Roe (Php80 for 2 pieces), Scallop Pollock Roe (Php200), and Squid Taberu Layu (Php120).
Then there is the Genki Roll (Php150), which is sushi with salmon and cucumber filling and clothed with thin salmon slices.
The restaurant’s Chawan Mushi, or Steamed Egg Custard (Php120), is not to be missed because it is one of the best in the metro.
Make sure to also order Chuka Wakame (Php130), which is Japanese seaweed salad.
When it comes to donburis (rice toppings), which are mains served in generous portions, top three variants are Salmon Oyako Don (Php320), thin salmon slices and salmon roe on rice; Chicken Teriyaki Don (Php190), flavorful chicken bites on rice; and Chirashi Don (Php420), which is a combination of crabstick, octopus, tamago egg, salmon, tuna, Northern shrimps and salmon roe).
Diners at Genki Sushi are likewise surprised to find out that the restaurant has a good selection of desserts to end a good and satisfying meal with. It is a toss-up between Matcha Double Fromage (Php140 per slice) and Rare Japanese Cheesecake (Php140 per slice), but make sure you have either Green Tea Ice Cream (Php80) or Strawberry Ice Cream (Php80) on the side, as well.
(Genki Sushi can be found at Bonifacio Stopover, Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; UP Town Center, Quezon City; and Ayala Malls The 30th, Pasig City.)