Text and images by Angelo G. Garcia
When visiting Japan, travelers always recommend Genki Sushi because it offers good and affordable sushi. It’s uniqueness also attracts locals and tourists alike because it employs a mini train delivery system. Customers order via tablets and the food is delivered by a small train moving on tracks that runs from the kitchen to the tables.
Two years ago, the sushi restaurant opened shop in the Philippines and became an instant hit. Filipinos go not just because of the novelty of its service but because it serves authentic Japanese food at an affordable price.
Recently, it opened its fourth branch at SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig marking early success for the sushi chain. Genki Sushi is locally operated by Mother Spice Group, the company behind Mango Tree and Cocina Peruvia. Along with the opening, it launched new menu items—dishes that came from Genki Japan.
One of the new must-try dishes is the coconut shrimp—butterflied shrimps rolled in panko bread crumbs and coconut flakes then deep fried to golden perfection. The coconut flavor beautifully complements the shrimp. It is served with a small slice of lemon for customers who like that extra hit of acidity.
According to Genki Sushi Philippines brand manager DJ Atienza, most of the restaurant’s ingredients come from Japan—surprisingly, even the coconut flakes—to ensure quality.
“Even the sauces are from Japan to make it consistent like the shoyu (soy sauce), as well as the pickled ginger and green tea. We are not allowed to use local ingredients without prior approval from the head office,” he explains. “When we have a shortage of items or problems with importation, when they visit here for quality audit, they ask us to provide local samples and then they taste it. But still, that can’t be used as an everyday item, it is used as an alternative only in case of an emergency.”
The head office’s quality control audits international branches quarterly every year. This ensures the quality of the products and that the food and service do not deteriorate.
All of the new dishes are must-tries, not just the coconut shrimps, but also the kushi-age, which is a small basket of deep fried skewered meat and vegetables like shrimp and fish. The chicharon-like crispy salmon skin is a definite must-try; it’s crunchy and very addictive.
The restaurant also introduces the sushi trio plate. Customers can now order a plate containing different kinds of sushi so they can try as many variations without ordering every sushi on the menu. It is, however, only with salmon (one of each regular salmon, seared salmon with pollock roe, and seared salmon with black pepper) and the sushi salad rolls (spicy tuna, tuna salad, and kanikama salad). Genki Sushi will be introducing new combinations soon.
Aside from its tasty and delicate Japanese cheesecake, the eatery also has new desserts like the maki dessert (cake roll with cream filling), caramel mochi that has brûléed sugar topping, and the creamy vanilla and strawberry mille crepes.
Genki Philippines’ menu is a combination of the Japanese and Singaporean menus. According to DJ, one of the things they pushed are the donburi or rice bowls: “In Genki Japan they don’t believe in selling donburi items, for them it’s sushi only. When they do store audits, I try to take them to the different places where they have good donburi so that they would understand our market. That here, we still need donburi bowls no matter what kind of Japanese restaurant we are.”
Aside from the numerous sushi selections, Genki Sushi offers donburi bowls like chicken teriyaki, katsudon, and oyako don. The restaurant also offers chirashi don (a bowl of sashimi over rice), unadon (grilled eel), and shrimp tempura and udon set.
“They (principals) are open as long as you can justify why you want to introduce that menu. Somehow, the brand needs to adapt also to the culture of the country,” explains Mother Spice Group marketing manager Ida Tan-Schneider.
The local version has also changed the restaurant layout. Japan stores usually have a bar layout where people usually dine alone. The restaurants here have booths that can fit six people because Filipinos usually eat out in groups with family, friends, or colleagues.
“We have a choice, to set it up like a bar or to maximize the seating capacity of the kousoku lane (train delivery system) by doing the booth seating. We also considered how Filipinos would go out together as families, as we rarely go alone, unlike in Japan,” DJ says.
After opening its first branch at BGC Stopover, the restaurant targets further expansion and will also open a branch at SM North Edsa this year.
Facebook/GenkiSuhsiPhilippines and Instagram/genkisushiph