Genki Sushi, located near Shibuya Station in the heart of Center Gai, is one of my favorite affordable sushi trains in Tokyo. With multiple branches across Japan and a few international locations, Genki Sushi has become popular with both locals and visitors for its cheap sushi, numerous menu choices, and its unique and entertaining sushi train delivery system.
Uobei Shibuya Dogenzaka, located down street, is the sister restaurant of Genki Sushi. Other than the name, the restaurants are virtually the same.
As Genki Sushi is extremely popular with both locals and international visitors, you can usually expect a small wait. This is especially true during weekends and dinner.
Turnover here is high, so the wait is rarely long. If you don’t want to wait, I recommend visiting during off-peak hours when you can typically walk right in and get a seat.
After waiting only a few minutes, my seat was ready and I walked to the front of the line. A server handed me a small black clipboard. Listed on this clipboard was a table number along with a bar code at the bottom.
I was then walked over by a worker to my seat at the counter. A number at my seat matched the number on the clipboard I was holding.
Interior of Genki Sushi
The interior of the casual restaurant was plain but bright. All the ceilings and walls were white except for one brown on the left which proudly displayed the Genki Sushi name and logo. A vibrant pink glow was coming from the lights at each seat.
While there were a few tables in the center of the dining room, almost all the seats in the house were at the counter. The counter wrapped around the entire restaurant. At the center were a few booths for small groups of three or more.
Genki Sushi Menu
At each seat was a tablet with an interactive touchscreen menu used to place orders. This was your menu.
There were eight sections of the menu: Recommended Sushi, Nigiri Sushi, Gunkan-Maki (Battleship Rolls), Sushi Rolls/Inari, Side Menu, Desserts, Alcohol, and Soft Drinks. Only three plates could be ordered at the same time.
Don’t speak Japanese? No problem. The language could be changed to English and other languages including Korean and Chinese.
Other than ordering, you could use the touchscreen to view your bill, complete your order, and check the status of each item (delivered or still being prepared).
Done with your meal? Complete your order on the tablet and take your clipboard to the cashier to pay your bill. The cashier will scan the bar code at the bottom of your clipboard.
Genki Sushi Train
Genki Sushi was not your traditional conveyor belt style sushi restaurant, known in Japan as kaiten-zushi. At these types of restaurants, plates circle around and around at a slow pace.
Instead of a slow conveyor belt, Genki Sushi uses an almost futuristic idea to deliver food directly to you at lightning speeds. They use a sushi train.
Hear a bell? That’s the sound of the sushi train about to arrive at your seat. Only minutes after placing my order through the interactive touchscreen menu, my sushi arrived on a track, straight from the kitchen directly to my seat. Each train could hold three plates of food.
If you ordered a drink, a staff member will bring it to your seat.
After a train arrived, I took each plate off the train. I then pressed the blue button on the tablet which sent the train back to the kitchen. Definitely one of the more entertaining ways to order sushi. Very cool to experience for the first time.
I always seem to order Scallops (259 yen or about $2.36) first, as they are one of my favorite sushi. They did not disappoint.
These scallops were so tender and buttery soft, exactly how they should be. Each meaty bite just melted in my mouth without any fatty or stringy bits. A little salty and a little sweet with a fresh, clean flavor.
If you’ve never had scallops before, I highly recommend you order them. While they might not be the best I have ever had, for the price, I couldn’t complain.
While I don’t have the stats, I believe that Tuna (129 yen or about $1.17) is the most popular item ordered at Genki Sushi. And, possibly all across Japan. I never have sushi without ordering tuna.
The tuna served here was basic but the pieces looked beautiful and fresh. Each piece a stunning deep ruby-red color with a fresh clean, salty flavor.
The meat was tender except for a few bits of fat running right through the middle of each piece. This made the tuna somewhat stringy and difficult to eat.
This was disappointing and would make me think twice about ordering the tuna next time.
Salmon with Green Onion & Chili Oil
When I found out that Genki Sushi was well known for their Salmon with Green Onion & Chili Oil (129 yen or about $1.17), I knew I had to order it.
Out of all the sushi I ordered, this plate was by far the most beautiful. It was colorful and plated well.
On its own, the salmon was basic yet tender. No complaints with the quality or taste. The salmon was tender and fresh, exactly how it should be.
What made this piece of sushi so special, and delicious, were the green onions and chili oil topping the salmon. The thinly sliced green onions were fresh and aromatic. They also added a nice bite to the otherwise plain and soft salmon. The rich chili oil added a nice smoky, salty flavor to each bite.
The salmon with green onion & chili oil was the complete package. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Shrimp Tempura Roll
Next up, was the Shrimp Tempura Roll (129 yen or about $1.17). This plate reminded me of any Crunchy Shrimp Roll found back in California.
The breading of the shrimp was thin, similar to tempura. After being lightly fried, I found the texture to be crispy though not as crunchy as I would have liked. But this wasn’t a deal breaker thanks to the sesame seeds. The sesame seeds, coating every inch of the rice, added an earthy flavor along with a crunchy bite.
The pink shrimp underneath the breading was juicy and fresh with a ocean flavor complemented by a rich mayonnaise sauce. Just as with the scallops, the shrimp was cooked well, almost melting in my mouth.
Sea Urchin (Uni)
If you are familiar with Sea Urchin (259 yen or about $2.36), known as uni in Japan, then you know it can be quite expensive. Luckily at Genki Sushi, you can try uni without breaking the bank.
You might be wondering, what does uni taste like? Fresh uni should be bright yellow in color with a creamy, almost liver-like texture and taste. The flavors should be clean with and nutty with a pronounced ocean flavor. Think of it as the foie gras of the sea.
Unfortunately, the sea urchin at Genki Sushi let me down. This was not surprising as fresh uni is much more expensive.
The flavor of the sea urchin served here was much too harsh for my liking. Each bite of the uni had a distinct iodine flavor, almost like ammonia. It just didn’t taste fresh. And, the color was more of an orange than yellow .
Even more disappointing was the texture which was gritty, instead of creamy and delicate.
I recommend saving your money and trying sea urchin elsewhere. While it will be more expensive, it will be fresh. A great place to try uni is at the nearby Tsukiji Fish Market.
Sweet Shrimp (129 yen or about $1.17) is another one of my favorite types of sushi. I order it every time. Just as with uni, sweet shrimp can be pricey.
The flavors and texture of the shrimp did not disappoint especially after the disaster with the sea urchin. Each piece of shrimp, though thin, was fresh with a balanced salty, sweet flavor.
Though simple, the texture of the shrimp was delicate with a soft bite. Each piece of shrimp was tender without being stringy or fatty.
A quick dip in soy sauce and wasabi enhanced the salty and sweet flavors of the shrimp
At this point, I thought I was done. I was so full of fish and rice. I decided to continue on and order just one more item, the Fried Oysters (259 yen or about $2.36).
The order arrived with three large pieces of fried oysters, a tartar dipping sauce, and a wedge of lemon.
I wasn’t expecting the panko breading to be so crispy, flaky, and rich. Each bite was wonderfully crunchy, the perfect texture to complement the soft oyster underneath.
Underneath the breading was a smoking hot juicy oyster. The plump and soft oyster was fresh and exploded with extremely salty flavors, almost like I was tasting a bit of the ocean. A quick squeeze of the lemon wedge helped to tone down these distinct salty flavors.
The basic tartar sauce, although creamy and tart, added a little too much richness to the already rich breading of the fried oysters.
While rich, the fried oysters were a perfect balance of crunchy breading, salty oyster juices, and chewy, fresh, tender oysters.
With limited interaction with workers on my visit, I can’t comment on the service. I ordered everything through the tablet minimizing my interaction with workers. Though, the servers did seem friendly. All the orders, other than drinks, arrived quickly by track without having to interact with any workers. This is what made Genki Sushi so great because sometimes you just want to eat alone.
Is Genki Sushi the best sushi in Tokyo? Of course not. Is Genki Sushi your traditional Japanese experience? No. If you are looking for this, then you need to look elsewhere.
If you want to try different types of affordable sushi dishes in a casual, fun environment, then Genki Sushi is for you. Eating alone? Genki Sushi is for you. If you are eating alone, then Genki Sushi is for you.
The beer was cold and most of the affordable dishes of sushi were delicious. Genki Sushi was for me.
- Good quality sushi for the price
- The futuristic sushi train was a great experience
- Accepted credit cards
- Usually a wait during busy lunch and dinner hours
- Some dishes hit or miss on quality
- Not a traditional Japanese sushi experience if that is what you are looking for/li>