Genki Sushi opens new branch and adds new items on its menu

Popular for its sushi delivery system, Genki Sushi is quickly becoming a favorite among sushi-loving Filipinos. And I see why.

The Japanese restaurant chain recently opened its fourth branch at SM Aura Premier in Bonifacio Global City, proving that they are doing good business in the country. Managed locally by the Mother Spice Group, Genki Sushi is one of its brands that is growing significantly.

Mother Spice Group also operates Mango Tree, Mango Tree Bistro, and Cocina Peruvia.

SB Genki Sushi's Kousoku Express Train System delivers food straight to your table
Genki Sushi’s Kousoku Express Train System delivers food straight to your table. On board is one of the resto’s newest dishes, coconut shrimps.

Genki Sushi was founded in Japan in 1968 by Japanese sushi chef Fumio Saito, who created the concept of kaiten sushi, where sushi is served by conveyor belt. Today, the chain has grown exponentially, with branches across the globe.

The novelty of its service is what’s keeping people coming back to the restaurant. The eatery employs the Kousoku Express Train System or its toy-like train delivery system. Inspired by the Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train), the tracks run from the kitchen to the tables.

SB Crispy salmon skin strips
Crispy salmon skin strips

Customers order via tablet computers and the food is delivered by a small train. It’s very entertaining to watch, especially to kids…like me.

But probably the resto’s main selling point is its food. Genki Sushi serves quality food, from sushi to donburi to desserts.

According to Genki Sushi Philippines brand manager DJ Atienza, the local franchise gets a visit from the mother ship quarterly. They ensure the quality of the products and the service of the restaurant. Most of the ingredients the local shops get are from Japan, too.

SB Trio of gunkanmaki sushi
A trio of gunkanmaki sushi (kanikama salad, spicy tuna, and tuna salad)

“Even the sauces are from Japan to make it consistent like the shoyu (soy sauce) and also the pickled ginger and green tea. We are not allowed to use local ingredients unless they approve it,” he said.

Along with the opening of the new branch, the sushi resto also launched new items on its menu.

These new dishes include: coconut shrimps (like shrimp tempura but with panko bread crumbs and coconut flakes), kushi-age (small basket of fried seafood and vegetables), crispy salmon skin strips, caramel mochi, and vanilla and strawberry mille crepes.

They are also now offering sushi plates of three. Regular orders usually have two pieces in a plate but now, people can order three different sushi in one plate. They offer a trio of salmon nigiri sushi (regular salmon, seared with pollock roe, and seared with black pepper) and a trio of gunkanmaki sushi (spicy tuna, tuna salad, and kanikama salad).

SB Caramel mochi
Caramel mochi with creme brulee-like torched sugar

And if you haven’t tried its Japanese cheesecake, you should. It’s not the fluffy cotton cheesecake kind but a soft delicate, light, and not-so-sweet cheesecake which I think is the perfect ending to a sushi meal.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Facebook/GenkiSuhsiPhilippines and Instagram @genkisushiph

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Recipe: Fried Soft-shell Crab with Tartar Sauce

So someone gave me a box of soft-shell crab, specifically mud crabs from Indonesia. Soft-shell crab are basically crabs that just molted or crawled out of its old shell. Like what happens to snakes and some bugs. I’m not sure if these crustaceans are farmed or fishermen catch them by waiting for molting season (is there such a thing?) or fishermen caught them by chance. Anyway, I didn’t know how to cook this type of crab but I discovered the most common way is just to fry it.

The crabs that I got were not yet cleaned so I researched how-to’s and it was quite easy (you can Google it but I’ll explain it below, no pictures though). This recipe is simple and I accompanied it with a tartar sauce, which is always perfect for seafood.

Ingredients

500 g soft-shell crab (5 to 6 pcs.)
1 cup of flour
1 lemon
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper

Tartar sauce

½ cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. chopped chives

Procedure

1. Clean the crabs. You can actually ask your fishmonger to do this. First, using kitchen shears cut off the face of the crab. Then lift the side of the top shell and remove the gills (the pointy things with bristles). Do this on both sides. Then flip the crab and on its underside or abdomen, remove the triangular shell cover completely. And you’re done!
2. Make the tartar sauce. Mix all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Pat the crabs with a cloth or paper towel, but don’t wipe it completely dry. Then season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, season the flour lightly and spread on a plate. While doing this, heat oil in a pan. You can do a deep fry method or shallow fry. What I used was the shallow frying method.
4. Dredge crabs with flour. Let the crab sit for a couple of minutes before putting in oil.
5. Fry the crabs, cook each side for 2 to 3 minutes. It’s important that you do not overcook the crabs. You want them crispy on the outside, tender and juicy in the inside. Also when frying, do not overcrowd the pan.
6. Place on paper towels after removing from pan then serve immediately. Squeeze lemon on crab before serving. Serve tartar sauce on the side. Eat them with a side of salad or seafood soup. Enjoy!

Serves 2 to 3

All-seafood feast

After watching chef Gordon Ramsay decry the use of frozen food on television so many times, I came to a conclusion that frozen food is bad, especially frozen meat. But not after cooking premium frozen seafood that I realized that it’s not bad at all.

While it is true that fresh is still the best thing to use, frozen is a good alternative nonetheless. That is if the brand you’re buying has done the process right.

The right process means that the meat is frozen immediately after slaughtering or harvesting the animal. Freezing the meat at its freshest is the best way to do it. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, freezing “does not destroy the nutrients,” the meat actually retains it in the freezing process. Also, the packaging helps, too, in maintaining quality.

SB King crab with hollandaise sauce on a crunchy brioche bread
King crab flakes with hollandaise sauce on a cr

Recently, Mida Food, one of the country’s top distributors of frozen premium seafood celebrated its 20th anniversary in a delicious fashion. It held an all-seafood lunch for a select group of guests at Gallery Vask, which is also a client.

Mida Food started as a trading company but eventually delved into frozen seafood distribution, starting with tuna off cuts like tuna jaw and tail. Today, the ISO-certified company, has more than 300 store keeping units (SKUs) in its line from fresh Norwegian salmon to pre-cooked New Zealand mussels to frozen Indonesian soft shell crab.

SB Aromatic tuna tartare with avocado and cilantro
Aromatic tuna tartare with avocado and cilantro

According to Mida Food president and CEO Enrique Valles, they have 1,000 base customers and delivers to 150 clients daily, moving eight to 10 tons of products every day. Their clients range from hotels to high end restaurants to fast food chains. Some of its customers include Tokyo Tokyo, Shakley’s, North Park, andWendy’s, just to name a few.

During the luncheon, chef Chele Gonzalez prepared a five-course meal using Mida’s products.

Before the lunch started, two types canapes were passed around. First was the simple pan seared hamachi on bread. The second one was king crab flakes with hollandaise sauce on a crunchy brioche bread. These were accompanied by Spanish Cava and sparkling rosé wine.

SB Grilled tiger prawns with starberry and watermelon gazpacho
Grilled tiger prawns with strawberry and watermelon gazpacho

Beginning the lunch proper is a small bowl of aromatic tuna tartare with avocado and cilantro. The tuna was finely diced and mixed with onions and cilantro topped with a dollop of creamy mashed avocado.

The next course was the beautiful plate of grilled tiger prawns with strawberry and watermelon gazpacho. The refreshing cold soup was complemented by different textures of chicharon-like crumbs and crispy iberico ham chips.

This was followed by the pan fried halibut with pork ragout and crispy iberico ham. The fish was flaky and melt-in-your-mouth tender.

SB Pan fried halibut with pork ragout and crispy iberico ham chips
Pan fried halibut with pork ragout and crispy Iberico ham

Then the last main course was my favorite. It was a seafood risotto with squid ink topped with lobster meat, seared scallops, Parmesan cheese tuiles, and asparagus ribbons (top photo). A spoonful with all components was a play on texture and flavors—the creamy and buttery risotto, tender seafood meat, and salty cheese tuiles.

Another favorite was the dessert and the only non-seafood dish (duh). The “different textures of calamansi” was the perfect ending to the seafood lunch. Different calamansi flavored desserts in a messy but beautiful pile—mousse, crumbled cake, cookie crumbs, and creamy ice cream.

Mida has attributed its success to the growing food industry, with the numerous restaurants opening shop and with Filipinos looking for more seafood options. Enrique said that they plan to put up their own retail store in the future but meanwhile, its retail brand Pacific Bay frozen seafood is available at supermarkets and its salmon bar is open at Markeplace by Rustan’s.

SB Different textures of calamansi
Different textures of calamansi

“Pacific Bay is a very important part of Mida Food, which is our retail brand available at all supermarkets. At some point we want to explore a brick and mortar retail store sort of like Santi’s but for seafood, like a high end fishmonger,” Enrique said.

www.midafood.com

Recipe: Thai-style Mussels

When I attended Mida Food’s 20th anniversary luncheon, each guest were given a bag full of frozen seafood—scallops, bacalao, softshell crab, prawns, and mussels—as a giveaway. The distributor of premium fresh and frozen seafood is known for its quality frozen products through its retail brand Pacific Bay. I immediately thought of various recipes for the seafood. I wanted to do something different for the mussels. It’s a pound of good shellfish, important from New Zealand, which was also already pre-cooked. I browsed the web and found Jamie Oliver’s Thai-style recipe. It looked simple and easy so I tried it and tweaked it a bit.

Ingredients

1 kg. mussels
1 1/2 cups fresh coconut cream
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 stalk lemon grass
1 tsp. cilantro stalks
2 pcs. bird’s eye chili (or Thai chili), chopped
1 pc. lime
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Procedure

1. Clean mussels or ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Steam or boil them for about 5 minutes until they open up. Discard any mussel that remained closed. Set aside about a cup of the water you used to cook the mussels.
2. Prep the lemon grass and cilantro. Pound the white part of the stalk until it cracks and opens up. Cut stalk into one-inch pieces. Then, separate the leaves of the cilantro from the stalks. Chop the stalks into small pieces.
3. In a pot, saute garlic and onions in vegetable oil for about 2 minutes, then add lemon grass and cilantro stalks and saute for another 2 minutes. Add coconut cream and water. Wait until it boils.
4. When boiling, add fish sauce and chili. Stir and taste, add salt if necessary. Add more chili if you want it extra spicy. Then add cooked mussels, stir and let simmer uncovered for about 2 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and squeeze lime over the mussels and mix. Serve in a bowl and garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges. Enjoy!

Serves 2 to 3

Recipe: Pancit Malabon

Pancit malabon is a variation of the Filipino pancit palabok, a kind of pancit (sautéed noodles). This originated from Malabon City, hence the name. A regular pancit palabok and the malabon variation use the same ingredients but served differently. The original palabok is served pasta-style with the sauce poured over the noodles and finished with the toppings. The malabon on the other hand, the sauce and noodles are incorporated together, served in a platter and finished with the toppings. Another difference is the size of the rice noodles, while the classic palabok uses the thin variety, malabon uses the thick variety.

Ingredients

500 grams thick rice noodles
250 grams medium size shrimp
1 cup fine tinapa (smoked fish) flakes
1 cup of crushed chicharon pork rind cracklings
3 eggs
¼ cup fish sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp. annatto seeds
Vegetable oil or any neutral oil you prefer
Pepper
Spring onions for garnish
Calamansi (Philippine lime

Procedure

1. Soak annatto seeds in ¼ cup of water. The seeds will dye the water red, a natural food coloring we use to color certain dishes. The longer you soak, the deeper the color.
2. Cook noodles according to package instructions. In my case, the instructions detailed that the noodles should be soaked first in tap water for 10 minutes. Then cook in boiling water for 10 minutes and let sit in hot water for another 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. To make the sauce, deshell shrimp and set the heads aside. Using mortar and pestle, crush and pound shrimp heads until juices come out. Then pour in a small saucepan and add 1 ½ cup of water and boil. After it boils, turn off heat and strain broth. Then cook shrimp body/tail separately in ½ cup of water. Cook shrimp until it turns pink, then set aside. You can also slice the shrimp tails in half, cutting it along the spine. Add the used water in the shrimp head broth.
4. Hard boil eggs, slice then set aside. Chop spring onions, set aside.
5. In a wok or big pan, sauté garlic and onion in about 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes. Then add shrimp broth then add fish sauce and pepper to taste. Add annatto water, don’t add everything, just enough to color the broth an orange hue. When the broth boils, add noodles and mix well. Then add half of the pork rind cracklings and tinapa, mix well. Make sure that the noodles is well coated by the sauce. The natural starch from the noodles will thicken the sauce. The cracklings will also thicken the sauce. Add about 2 tbsp. of oil and mix thoroughly.
6. Pour noodles in a large serving platter. Then top with remaining cracklings and tinapa. Top also with sliced egg, shrimp, and spring onions. Serve with sliced calamansi for squeezing (calamansi is squeezed over a serving of the pancit, the juice adds freshness and acidity). Enjoy!

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe: Tuna Kinilaw

Kinilaw or kilawin is a Filipino dish that is similar to the Latin American ceviche. It’s basically fresh seafood soaked in an acidic liquid mixture that “cooks” the protein. Ceviche uses mainly citrus but the Filipino kinilaw uses a mixture of vinegar and citrus. This Filipino dish also requires less ingredients but I added a few ingredients in this recipe to add more texture. This dish is best served as an appetizer but here in the Philippines, it is a very common pulutan food or bar chow. A nice cold beer is its best partner.

Ingredients

500 grams (1 lb) fresh tuna
1 ¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup calamansi juice
1 red onion
2 tbsp. ginger, diced
1 cucumber
2 pcs. finger chili pepper
Salt and pepper

Procedure

1. Cut tuna into small bite-size cubes. In a bowl, mix tuna, vinegar, calamansi juice, and ginger. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes and let meat soak up liquid. You will notice that the meat will turn into pale pink from bright red. After the time, drain excess liquid and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, slice onion into thin pieces as well as finger chili. For the cucumber, remove seeds and slice thinly as well.
3. Add onions, chili, and cucumber into tuna. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Cover bowl and let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Recipe: Adobong Pusit

I love seafood and squid is at the top of the list along with shrimp. One of the best Filipino squid dishes is adobo. It’s basically squid, stewed in vinegar and its own ink. This recipe is very easy and it’s one of my favorites and is best eaten with rice.

Ingredients:

1 kg (2..2 lbs.) squid
1 garlic bulb, chopped
½ cup white vinegar
1 tbsp. whole pepper corns
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 piece siling Tagalog (finger chili), sliced

Procedure

1. Clean squid by removing guts and cartilage. Remove and save ink sacs of each squid. If you don’t know how to do this, ask market vendor or grocery staff too do the cleaning and extracting of ink sacs for you. Slice squid into rings.
2. In a pot put in squid, vinegar, garlic, and pepper corns. Put over low heat and let simmer for about 45 minutes until squid meat is tender.
3. In a small bowl, mash and break ink sacs to extract ink. When squid is done, pour in ink and vegetable oil. Mix well. Let simmer for another 10 minutes to cook ink, then add sliced chili at the last minute.
4. Serve over steaming white rice and enjoy!

Serves 4

Recipe: Mussel Soup with Moringa

Tinola is a staple Filipino soup dish that uses any kind of protein, like chicken, pork, or seafood. My favorite kind of this dish is tinolang tahong, which uses mussels. I love mussels whether in soup, baked, or grilled form. What I also like about this dish is it’s super healthy. Aside from the protein, vitamin B-12, and iron you get from the mussels, the moringa (malunggay in Filipino) leaves makes the dish even healthier. Moringa is a very common vegetable here in the Philippines and is used in many dishes. It is also considered a super food because it’s a good source of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, among others.

Ingredients

500 grams (1 lb.) mussels
1 cup fresh moringa leaves
4 cups rice water
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb of ginger, julienned
1 yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper

Procedure

1. Wash mussels thoroughly. Let sit in salt water for 30 minutes to let mussels expel impurities naturally. Scrub any impurity on the shells.
2. Wash about two cups of uncooked rice in a bowl with 4 cups of water. Drain but save the water. This is the rice water. This is commonly used in vegetable dishes as it also helps thicken the soup because of the starch.
3. In a pot, saute garlic, ginger, and onion for about three minutes or until fragrant and onions are translucent. Then put in cleaned mussels and rice water. Wait until it boils. Mussels should open up, any mussel that does not open must be discarded. Season with salt and pepper.
4. When mussels are have opened up, turn off heat and add moringa leaves. Stir, cover, and let sit for five minutes. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Serves 4