FOOD REVIEW: Gen Kai Sushi

Gen Kai Sushi in Dana Point offers high quality sushi, a creative menu, and beautifully presented dishes in a comfortable atmosphere.

This week brought us back to Gen Kai Japanese. We have eaten there before, and always enjoyed it, but for some reason have not been there for several years.  It is a little one story building with a blue tile roof. Inside, the restaurant is cozy and appealing. The walls are lined with varnished wood planks that give them a kind of golden glow. The restaurant is divided into two sections, the regular dining room and the sushi bar. We headed straight to the sushi bar where we were greeted in Japanese by all five sushi chefs who were behind the long, polished bar. The wall behind them is decorated with wooden waves that are painted blue and attached to the varnished wood, giving the impression of a large ship in the ocean.

As soon as we sat down, a waiter asked for our drink order. Unfortunately, we were not given a drink menu, and so were not sure what they offered. We decided to go with soft drinks to start. The sushi chef handed us warm towels for our hands and a dish of edamame. There were two different menus to look at placed in front of every other chair.  One has a long column of “popular rolls” and another column of “special rolls”. The second menu is titled “favorite dishes” which has many of the same items found on the first menu, but with lots of pictures. Both menus feature some gluten-free options. In addition, there is a board on the wall with additional specials for the day, which seemed to offer more exotic options, such as live scallops, oysters, yellowtail cheek, and salmon cheek among others.

At first it seemed almost too much to choose from.  We decided to take a risk and try something we had never had, the sashimi roll, made with ahi, salmon and yellowtail sashimi and crab wrapped in soy paper. While our first dish was being prepared, we enjoyed the edamame. Lots of customers were coming in and all were greeted in Japanese as we had been. Many seemed to be regulars who knew the staff.


When our sashimi roll was served, we were very impressed. The presentation was quite beautiful. The sashimi was wrapped around crab and green onions and wrapped by soy paper. The sliced roll pieces were arranged in a circle around the plate on a bed of fried rice noodles. The chef had created a sculpture on one side of the plate using lettuce and pieces of sashimi, salmon roe and asparagus spears and an artfully sliced lemon. On the other side of the plate was a hollowed out cucumber, cut into a flower shape and filled with seaweed salad. The whole thing was delicious. The crab mixture was light and flavorful. The sashimi was fresh and delicious and the mix of veggies and garnishes on the plate all worked very well together. The dish was served with a special sauce, which my husband enjoyed.

Next, we tried the sushi nachos. This came with four pieces. The base of each piece was a fried wonton, spread with a “Japanese guacamole” and topped with ahi, very thinly sliced white onion, tiny slices of green onion and salmon roe. I thought these were fantastic. The wonton chips were crisp and tasty and I loved the combination of flavors. I think they were not spicy enough for Jim though and so he did not think they were as good as I did.


Our final choice of the evening was the Monica roll, which is prepared with snow crab, shrimp, and smelt egg and chili oil, topped with tuna. This roll was also quite beautiful. The crab, shrimp, smelt egg mixture in the center was light and fresh and the chili oil added a nice flavor to it. We both loved this roll. By now, we were quite full. Our sushi chef prepared us a little cut up orange for dessert, which was perfect.

Gen Kai is a lovely place for sushi. The fish seems to be very high quality. The dishes are creative, delicious and beautifully presented. Our sushi chef was very attentive and skilled, and we enjoyed our meal very much. Gen Kai is open for lunch Monday-Thursday from 11:30-2 p.m. and for dinner from 5-10 p.m. On Fridays, they are open for lunch 11:30-2 and for dinner 5-11. On Saturdays, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays 5 p.m.-10 p.m.


I give Gen Kai 4 Patches out of 5.





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