Step aside, imitation crab. We’re talking the real-deal catch here.
Genki Sushi, tucked away in a shy strip mall facing Target, has an unassuming location. The food, however, is anything but average. Don’t just take it from me; take it from the Internet. Genki’s countless online reviews speak for themselves—the majority of which claim the quaint Asian café (namely its superior kitchen guru, Chef Danny) serves up the freshest fish in town. But don’t just take it from Google; take it from the locals. After being blown away by my exceptional meal, I polled my native pals on their favorite spot for sushi. Trophy’s yours, Genki. All. Day. Long.
Goodbye, counterfeit California rolls. Chef Danny, lead the way.
I wandered into Genki on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, as I was told weekend patrons crowd this spot like a tightly packed tuna roll. Despite the restaurant being somewhat close to closing time, the friendly server in sight invited me to pull up a chair to the sushi bar. He then walked me through some quality menu suggestions, like a true service industry professional—unlike the lifeless chain restaurant waiter who informs us the lemon chicken is, in fact, made with lemon and chicken.
I mentioned my affinity for ahi and he led me toward the Toro—a fatty part cut from the tuna’s belly. He indicated the higher price tag, a much-appreciated gesture, but his declaration that it was worth every penny sold me on the spot. Out came three pinky, perfectly marbled slices of sashimi, resting on a cozy banana leaf bed. At first I didn’t want to disturb them. I immediately changed my mind. The silky steak-esque slices melted onto my tongue like butter and had a gentle salty aftertaste of the sea.
For a crunchy palate cleanser, I opted for the house salad with Genki’s signature dressing. It had hints of toasted sesame and sharp ginger. All around it was an outstanding “house” dressing.
For a heartier bite, I moved along to the gyoza. I tested Genki on their vegetarian version of these typically pork-filled, pan-fried appetizers. The exterior of each half-moon had a delicate crunch, thanks to a sizzle in a hot skillet, and its insides were flowing with fresh mushrooms, greens and onions. It was satisfying and light all in one bite. One dunk into the sweet ponzu sauce and I was in dumpling dream land.
Pre-feast, I browsed Genki’s sushi menu online. I had my heart set on a traditional rainbow roll, but one look at the specials board, and it was crustacean or bust. When my server reassured me the lobster crunch roll was his best-selling item, I plucked apart my chopsticks and prepared for battle. This specialty roll, enclosed in pink soy paper, featured crunchy veggies, creamy lobster salad and avocado. Crispy panko flurries scattered around the plate. I scooped up my first rosy nugget and smeared it with (astonishingly fresh) wasabi and crowned it with a slice of pickled ginger. I gave it a quick dip into a low-sodium soy sauce bath—another Genki housemade item. It was so fresh out of Chef Danny’s hands, it was slightly warm to the touch. Instead of a gloppy glaze oozed over the top (I’m lookin’ at you, Americanized sushi-fusion spots), the fresh-from-the-ocean lobster had been previously folded with a light, creamy sauce. The roll was light as air, and filled with harmonizing textures and snaps of flavor. I ate every last round as if someone was about to steal it.
Genki was starting to feel too good to be true. While simultaneously and unapologetically popping pieces of sushi and gyoza into my mouth, I surveyed my server on the restaurant’s sake selections. Thirty seconds later he was handing me a tall shot glass filled with Genki’s chilled, milky, homemade unfiltered sake. It tasted like sparkles. Can I live here?
Although this eatery is prized for their sushi, I couldn’t help but be tempted by the handful of heartier Japanese dishes—so yakisoba noodles for dessert, it was. Each thin strand was delicately coated with Asian spices and entangled with cabbage, sliced onion and juicy pieces of chicken. This lunch special came with a perfectly fried spring roll and the aforementioned salad. The total? Less than $10.
(Seriously, can I live here?)
As if I wasn’t already about to set up my cot and bring in my cat, the meal concluded with an array of complimentary made-from-scratch butterscotch candies. There were several flavors to sample, but the coffee—smoky, nutty and lightly salty—was on another level.
Genki has found that sweet spot in its loyal patrons’ hearts, and it’s no surprise their fanbase is almost entirely word-of-mouth. One bite and diners will want to hold a boombox over their head in the Genki parking lot and channel John Cusack. Most people say to not believe everything read on the Internet, but when it comes to Genki, all the rumors are true.