The Japanese word “Genki” means “happy” or “doing well.” Knowing this, when I walked into Genki Sushi at the Maui Mall for lunch today I couldn’t help but wonder why their logo looks like a frowning kabuki.
I’ve eaten a ton of sushi in my life–from the Mom and Pop maki rolls my dad and I used to get when I was a kid to the high quality, artsy Rainbow rolls from places like Isana and Sansei–but I hadn’t tried Genki until today. The place is quite large, way bigger than the now-closed Sushi-Go. It’s brightly lit and spotless. Sitting at the “bar” area, I immediately became mesmerized by plate after plate of sushi as it glided by on a long horseshoe-shaped conveyer-belt.
I love the idea behind conveyor-belt sushi. In fact, I think there should be more conveyer-belt dining in general. Why don’t we have revolving pizza and wings?
Anyway, I opened the sushi guide and discovered that there were five different colored plates holding various sushi cuts and rolls. The prices climb in the order of gold, green, red, silver and black—$1.55 to $4.90.
It was fun picking out different sushi, but I’m pretty sure I did it wrong. I sat on the stool and picked four different dishes in a row without stopping to eat any of them. In hindsight, I believe the correct way to eat conveyor belt sushi is to eat each dish before grabbing for another. Live and learn.
I tried the Spicy Tuna (Green), Tamago and Spam (Red), California roll (Gold), Vegetable croquette (Gold) and the Corn (Gold). All were fresh, tasty and–although I know for a fact that at the cheap price, the quality of the tuna can’t be as high as some of the finer establishments–just as yummy as the fancy places.
A clear advantage Genki has over most other sushi establishments is that it’s also child-friendly. Friends of mine regularly take their two-year-old and say that the trick is to request one of the booths near the conveyor belt.
Genki has great kid options like Corn sushi –rice topped with a corn and mayo mixture, then wrapped in nori. It sounds somewhat gross, but I did try it and was pleasantly surprised. The Tamago is also good for children because most enjoy their scrambled sweet egg. You can even get it with spam (my choice) and it tastes (no big surprise) like a mini spam and egg musubi.
They also have a large selection of vegetarian options—conveniently labeled –on their menu like ume, avocado, kampyo, ocean salad and natto maki.
Overall, Genki has a wide variety of traditional, local and mainstream sushi at fair prices in a family-friendly environment. Is it “The Best,” as the Honolulu Star-Bulletin has said for five years? Probably not, but, it could very well be my new favorite. MTW