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Sep 14, 2000 07:42 AM

Genki Sushi

  • p

Genki Sushi, which has drawn raves on the San Fransisco board, opened up in the World Financial Center. Since I work in the World Trade Center, and love sushi, I was there.

It's strange. The sushi goes by on a big conveyor belt, on different color plates for different prices. If you want something that isn't on a plate, you call over a waitress and ask. You sit on stools and grab the plates as they go by.

Maybe it's just me, but is this any way to eat? Also, maybe it's just me, but I knocked over my water glass, and had trouble grabbing what I wanted.

The sushi was fine, not ethereal, no competition to the top places, but I'd go again if they served it in a normal way.

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  1. conveyor sushi is fine as an idea, but i think the quality at genki is lame. been to both locations and it does not compare with other cities.

    2 Replies
    1. re: matt

      Genki (the original I think) has an outpost
      in Changi Airport in Singapore. I found their
      quality really good and if you think about it
      the conveyer setup is really suitable for an
      airport situation. Sorry to hear their NY
      locations don't measure up.

      1. re: christina z

        As a San Francisco raver, I must clarify: I don't think this conveyor belt sushi has any relation to the Berkeley sushi restaurant I enjoy. Genki in Berkeley's not a chain, just a small restaurant owned by one of the chefs.

    2. j
      judy leibovitch

      I've been to two restaurants named Genki Sushi"
      One in Honolulu which is clearly a version of the one which opened in New York; conveyor belt of sushi which is probably a take on the sushi boat theme. Biggest plus is it was very inexpensive for decent fish.

      The other was the Berkeley restaurant mentioned by Rachel. As she has already noted, this is a mom and pop type of place.

      "Genki" just means ( if I remember correctly, Andy), "nice", or "all right."

      2 Replies
      1. re: judy leibovitch

        Actually, the meaning of "genki" is closer to "lively" or "energetic." And believe it or not, coveyor-belt sushi places are very popular with the lunch-time crowds in Japan.

        1. re: Maureen
          judy leibovitch

          "Lively sushi"? Um, ok, I bow to your definition since most of my limited Japanese was acquired from watching subtitled Japanese superhero programs as a kid in Hawaii. (Anyone remember Kamen Rider V3?)

      2. There used to be a pretty good conveyor-belt sushi place in NYC called Genroku Sushi on Fifth Ave at 36th St., across from Altman's. The trick was to nab a seat right in front of the sushi chef and grab plates before they had a chance to complete a lap around the counter. If you could pull this off, you could eat really well for under $5 (this was in 1980-82 or so); if you got stuck with an end-zone seat, there was no telling how many times a plate had been around the block before you got there. (Unfortunately, you could pretty well guess after the first bite.)

        Like so many others before them, Genroku apparently couldn't leave well enough alone and were done in by an ill-advised expansion into Penn Station. There was NEVER anybody in the Penn Station branch.

        5 Replies
        1. re: R. Carter

          Maybe I was the only customer. I never ate off the belt, though . I used to ask them to make me up some rolls fresh to go and they would oblige. Now I guess I know they weren't just being nice - they were desperate.RIP.

          1. re: Maria Eng
            Robert Sietsema

            Note that Genroku was one of the very first places to introduce sushi into the New York area, and was, for all its austerity and cheapness, a rather spectacular place. They also served Chinese-style fried rice, dim sum, and jello. As Ms. Eng pointed out, real aficionados eschewed the plates that rotated, sometimes for hours, on the miraculous conveyor belt, in favor of asking the waiters/sushi chefs inside the track for dishes made fresh. This joint also pioneered the practice (as they do in dim sum houses) of charging according to the size and shape of the plate, though in its later days, certain types of sushi were more expensive. The initial sushi offerings consisted of only tekkamaki and kappamaki.

            1. re: Robert Sietsema

              I am so glad somebody remembers Genroku. As I keep hearing about Genki and how new-fangled and innovative it is, I keep thinking there already *was* a place doing conveyer belt sushi near the Empire State building...ages ago!

              Not the best stuff, but very cheap and fun to grab the more unusual items before somebody else did.

              1. re: Maria

                when I used to work at Danceteria during the evenings, Genroku Sushi was a nightly "must-go" place. If not for the inexpensive sushi, but the "scene" (!!)

                1. re: Mr. W.

                  Wow...Genroku Sushi and Danceteria. I haven't had a flood of good memories like this in ages! I remember going to Genroku at 11:30 am most times, before they even had the belt stocked with dishes. (I was a traveling sales guy and was able to walk there from midtown whenever I wanted.) They would just be setting out the good stuff - the chutoro & the hamachi, and some of the better cooked dishes. Remember that clever hot tea "pipeline"? It ran around the bar and had taps every third seat or so and you could tap an unlimited amount of tea into your cup. I remember most times you would have to wait for a seat if you went between 12:30 - 1. They seemed to be booming and I never did know why they shut. My trip to the WFC location of Genki was pretty lame - it's a pale, overpriced imitation.

                  Does anybody remember a place called Shogun off 6th Avenue in the village, around 8th/Waverly? That was the first place I ever had sushi, and they closed a year or two later. I wasn't knowledgeable enough to know if it was good or not, but I'd love to hear from anybody who remembers it!

        2. Just the other day I visited the Genki Sushi on 46th street. I actually like sushi on conveyor belts especially for lunch and I've eaten it that way on both coasts and even seek out this kind of presentation as I find it fun and convivial and interesting. Also, I have a very low tolerance for waiting to be served, especially at sushi bars where the chef is not just feeding the patrons at the bar but the whole restaurant as well.

          I found the sushi, in general to be very good, not the extraordinary level, but for the casualness of the scene and the prices, pretty damn good.

          However, the toro was some of the best I've eaten in a long time. I found out that they have a special source in South America, of all places, for their toro. It was otoro, none of that chutoro baloney that is, sometimes, just minorly fatty maguro at toro prices. It was sooooo good, the texture was foie gras-like and the flavor was intensly fatty. I hope my experience wasn't just a fluke(ha ha).