Genki, which means good and healthy in Japanese, is also the name of a new restaurant that claims to use its name as its inspiration. I went to find out if the claim was true.
When Genki opened earlier in the year it offered 'infinite dining', a sort of eat-all-you-can concept in fancy surroundings and with no time limits. This no longer seems to be the case as a 'conventional', three-course menu was offered during my visit.
The starter was a selection of sushi and sashimi. These were arranged on the plate from left to right according to the strength of the flavours, explained the waiter. Dressed in black and wearing an earpiece, he looked more like a plate-carrying bouncer.
Rosy chunks of salmon were followed by rice draped in sliced tuna and prawns, and lastly rice wrapped around brittle sheets of seaweed or crispy fried trout skin. These were stuffed with trout and black sesame seeds, and two were topped with poached quail’s eggs that stared up at me inquisitively. The flavours and presentation were beautiful.
The main course was an unremarkable combination of crispy mange tout and tenderloin in pepper sauce.
Genki's dessert had little to do with Japanese food. A chocolate brownie (actually more like a chocolate muffin) was accompanied by chocolate ice cream and whipped cream.
Despite my love of everything chocolate, the dessert was too rich, outweighing and overpowering the rest of the meal. I would have preferred a palate cleanser like green tea or coconut sorbet - not very Japanese either, granted, but it would at least have used local ingredients.
Genki has taken over the cavernous and predominantly windowless building that was once Club Chi. The dark walls and gold accents, such as nobbled vases that resemble enormous pineapples, and Buddha Bar soundtrack are clearly aimed at evoking eastern refinement. Faux gold can easily look cheap, and that was the case here. Combined with a lot of empty tables, Genki felt rather soulless.
The sushi and sashimi at Genki were good and undoubtedly healthy, as promised, but there's more atmosphere at Geisha and the same quality food for lower prices at UMI Sushi and Grill. Unfortunately, that means there’s little reason to return.
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