Well, it is highly unlikely that I’ll ever get back to Maui’s Genki Sushi in Lahaina, but I thought that I’d share some photos and thoughts from my vacation with the readers of Happy Sushi Belly!
Our first sushi attempt was in the Shops at Wailea – an open-air mall with some really high-end shops (Betsy Johnson, Versace, Gucci, Rolex, etc..) at Kai Wailea. Of course, one look at the menu, and we decided not to stop in – the prices were just too high to justify a quick lunch, especially since we were hot and sweaty – hardly feeling up for something posh. (For an example of the prices, two Ikura is $8.95, a California Roll is $8.00, and 5 pieces of Tuna sashimi is $14.95…. this is about twice of what I’d pay back home…) I’m sure the food was good – but not what we were in the mood for.
So, we headed down the road to Sansei Seafood & Sushi in Kihei. Tucked into a little strip mall, we didn’t think this would be nearly as posh as Kai – but unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to find out – because when we got there (about 2:30pm… I never seem to want lunch at “lunch-time”) they were closed. Bad luck for me – apparently they’re only open for dinner. Looking at their menu – we might have been missing out – it looks delicious! (Though prices aren’t listed…)
Ok.. third time is the charm, right? We headed into Lahaina and went to Zushi. This is a TINY place in a strip mall. I had seen the back of the shop from the highway, and found our way over there – only to find that it was also closed.
Giving up, we headed to the other side of the highway and over to the Outback Steak House, and instead found Genki Sushi! I was really happy to finally get my fill of some Maui Vacation Sushi!
The Main Event
Like Sushi House Banff or Kinjoin Calgary, Genki Sushi is the “conveyor belt” style sushi restaurant, with limited table service (the server brought us water, but even juice and pop are available on the very long train) for additional items. The menu, soy sauce and chopsticks are on the table, but everything else comes off the track. (Including both wasabi and ginger.) There is a menu on the table showing everything they have to offer, but before each of the items there is also a picture with the name of the item and it’s price which is really helpful and fun! We did order two items (Cream Cheese & Salmon roll – aka a Philadelphia Roll, and an order of salmon sashimi) but everything else we picked off the track.
First up – chopped scallop roll. This is normally one of my favorites, but this honestly wasn’t good and it set me up for low expectations. The scallop had likely been sitting too long, and it was dry and a bit fishy tasting. Not good. Of course, if you read Happy Sushi Belly you know that Ikura is my other favorite – but they didn’t have any at the time being – though it is on their menu.
Next up – I loved the look of the Volcano roll – a California-type roll, covered in mounds of chopped raw tuna and lots and lots of spicy sauce (not the spicy mayo, but rather the clear spicy sauce). I grabbed it off the conveyor belt and had my expectations return – it was delicious, with tender tuna, hot spicy sauce (but not TOO spicy) and a nice fresh roll under the whole thing. If I hadn’t wanted to try some of their other flavours, I probably would have had another!
While I had sushi, my companion (who isn’t a sushi-lover) was in the mood for some edamame – they had both a spicy version and a plain version. I had one or two, and wasn’t overly thrilled (I like them when they’re freshly steamed and still hot) but she liked them well enough. She also picked up an order of gyoza, which she said were very good, though I would have hesitated – since part of what I love of gyoza is that vinegar-sour sauce.
She must have really liked what she tried, because she got adventurous, and tried their Tempura California Roll next. This is a basic California roll… which has been battered and fried, then topped with spicy sauce (the clear one rather than the creamy one) and green onions. It’s a bit too much for me – but I did try one piece and it was remarkably good – not at all greasy or heavy – though I don’t think I’d want more than a few pieces to myself.
My salmon sashimi came up next, and while it was good, it wasn’t remarkable. The Cream Cheese roll (aka Philadelphia Roll) was next, and it was good, though not as well blended in terms of flavours as I was expecting. Of course, I picked off the onions, but I really liked the extra salmon on top!
My companion was once again feeling adventurous and picked up an order of Crab Mayo – basically shredded crab meat mixed with Japanese mayonnaise in a battle-ship style sushi. She said it was good, but not fantastic. Still… small steps!
Finally, I picked off the red velvet cupcake from the belt. I have no idea how red velvet cupcakes fit in with sushi… but it looked delicious – and it was! Since we were pretty full, we split it, but if I hadn’t had so much sushi, I definitly could have eaten a whole one myself – with lovely light cream cheese frosting on top, and a nice moist cupcake with a squirt of chocolate sauce on the inside. Yum yum!
What I loved most about Genki Sushi was all of the selection. There were so many different flavour combinations and new-to-me flavours(Spam sushi, onion-salmon, garlic-ebi(raw sweet prawn), garlic-salmon, yaki (seasoned and seared)-salmon, abalone salad battleship sushi, ahi (tuna) poke battleships, hot dog rolls, garlic-ahi, their Genki burger, and a bunch of vegetarian options like spring bean tempura, cold and cooked tofu, eggplant fry sushi, ocean salad battleships, plus several non-sushi items to like several salads, and cooked dishes.) With that being said, since I don’t like onion or garlic, those ones weren’t on my must-try list… and many of the other unique options weren’t available at the time we were there. Others I might have tried if I had seen them on the belt, but I wasn’t up for ordering a full order sight unseen. Next time!
Also, the prices were great. All the reading I’ve done about conveyor-belt style sushi makes it sound as though it should be a fast-food price-level experience. You don’t get lots of personal service, and the chef can make whatever is selling best or whatever he has the ingredients for. With this in mind, the price point SHOULD be lower than a la carte sushi IMO. Genki Sushi finally lives up to this. (See my price chart below.)
What I liked least – was that almost none of the dishes were covered in any way. The salads were mostly covered (likely to keep them fresh longer?) but very little else was. I suppose it’s my paranoia after seeing people at other conveyor-belt places pick things off the belt, look at them (and breath on them) and then put them back that puts me a little off the lack of coverage – especially when the restaurant is long and narrow. At a place like Sushi House Banff you can see what all of your fellow diners are doing – here you wouldn’t be able to. (Which certainly has it’s advantages as well…) I guess you just have to trust your fellow diners to maintain the same level of cleanliness and tact that you yourself have!
Genki Sushi has locations in Hawaii and Washington state in the USA, along with locations in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong… if you’ve traveled to any of those places (or, if perhaps there are some international readers!) and have tried Genki Sushi – what do you think?
|Salmon sashimi||$3.95/ 4 pieces|
|Special scallop||$2.30 / 2 pieces|
|Edamame||$1.55 / 1 bowl|
|Cream cheese roll / Philadelphia roll||$3.95 / 4 pieces|
|Volcano roll||$4.95 / 4 pieces|
|Gyoza||$2.30 / 3 pieces|