We were headed to the Rideau Center....what was close by? I went through my "to eat" list and stared at a map for a couple minutes. Ah HA! Genji!! They were just a couple minutes from our final destination. Score!!
I was a little worried that 5pm might have landed us hip deep in the middle their weekend dinner hour rush, but it turned out that we got in just under the gun. We were able to be seated right away at a bench/chair combo table (my favorite kind) near to the kitchen. We have started requesting to be put in a traditionally noisy area in the establishments we dine in so when the Sprout gets to squawking, we aren't disturbing the other guests. As soon as we were seated I started in on the questions with our waiter, "What are your signature dishes?" and "What would you recommend to someone that has never had Japanese cuisine?". While we were discussing the menu the hostess came with green tea and 3 little bowls of marinated veggies and squid.
He was very knowledgeable and had eaten most of the items on the menu, this is VERY helpful when you are trying to decide what to eat. Some menu's in Japanese restaurants can be quite lengthy, just the sushi choices alone. I was glad to hear that he had tried so many things. I wanted to try some of everything, but I'd have burst if I did. We went with beef maki, gyoza, the Stampede sushi roll and for my entree I ordered Karubi; my Mister went with the Butterfish. The entrees from the grill all come with house salad, miso soup, stir fried seasonal vegetables and rice. Quite the spread! With our order in, I was ready to look around.
It was a really peaceful atmosphere and the Sprout was rare form; we couldn't believe how well he was behaving. But we're not fools, we knew it couldn't possibly last the whole night. We put the order in for gyoza and maki long before the entrees so we could start feeding him ASAP. The beef maki appeared first for the Sprout along with our house salads and miso soups; we prayed and dug right in.
House Salad Miso Soup
The first thing I sticked into was my house salad. It was pretty standard as salads go, but for the dressing. Their dressing was fabulously flavorful and creamy. We had set the Sprout to work on his maki rolls and he was doing alright until he saw us eating our salads; he decided he wanted to try it. He LOVED it! He ended up eating my Mister's whole salad. It was quite entertaining and gratifying. Who doesn't want their kid to love veggies? All the ingredients were obviously fresh, they were crispy, cool and full of flavor. Our miso was refreshing. As the Sprout had focused all his efforts on our salads all of the sudden, I didn't feel too guilty reaching over and snagging one of his beef maki rolls. The green onion, enoki mushroom, asparagus combination in the meat was a perfect balance. The sauce really was the kiss on the dish. The beef was succulent and soft; cooked immaculately. Do I really need to say that I was excited for the rest of our meal?? Didn't think so. Either way, the gyoza was ready and in front of us.
These gyoza tasted like little pockets of Heaven. The beef and vegetables inside the soft dumpling were so wonderful! The meat was so tender that it just melted in my mouth. The sear on the dumpling was spot on, giving it just a hint of crunch. We all loved them! In the middle of my love affair with the appetizers our sushi showed up. After she placed the platter in front of us, she refilled our green tea cups. I'd be completely failing as a flogger if I didn't mention that this place is top notch on the service and perfect on attentiveness; not at the table too often nor too little. It may spoil me for service evaluation at future establishments...
I presentation on this roll was beautiful. Without a doubt, the food here really appeals to ALL your senses. The rice and the beef were so soft and moist, all of the vegetables were cooked correctly and Genji's Japanese mayo really lent some extra zing to the roll; top it all with some wasabi and ginger peel and just like the beef maki, it is perfection in one bite. Our Sprout was really diggin' it...I'd say I was surprised but, at this point our son eats such a large variety of foods he ends up loving more than traditional American dishes. I wasn't really keeping track of how much I was eating...then the entrees made their way to the table. Again, our cups of green tea were refreshed....fabulous!
I'd eat here again, I'd bring Japanese friends here and I would recommend it to anyone that considers themselves Japanese cuisine experts. The prices are mid-line for eating downtown but, they may be considered pricy for Asian food. But, when you take into consideration the quality of the meats, vegetables, rice, tea...soup...do I need to go on?? The prices are more than appropriate. You get a lot for your money and it is ALL fabulous. There isn't anything lacking or that makes you feel like you've spent too much for too little. Heck, I'd go back just for the tea! With service that is timely, courteous and generous, you really feel like YOU are the main event. Thank you so much for a wonderful evening Genji!