Genghix

24 09 2010
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 5/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  Three   ♦   Will I Return?:  Wish I could go every night.
___________

Genghix front doorDo you remember the Genghis Khan Kitchen in Castro Valley? Just near the corner of Redwood Road and CVB in the Lucky’s (then Albertson’s, then Lucky’s again) shopping center? Yeah, I do too. I had a bad feeling about that place for some reason, though I never went. Three years ago the owners of Genghis apparently decided they needed a change. Enter Genghix, the bad-ass older brother of Genghis*.

Genghix has a newly decorated interior and some rad, solid wood front doors that make it look sort of like a dungeon. But it’s not; it’s awesome. The interior has that sort of mood lighting that goes with polished concrete floors and dark wood furniture. It’s a bit Elephant Bar, sans all the safari equipment and foliage. It’s posh, it’s fun; it’s almost a magical transport from Castro Valley to the City.

Genghix interior

The inside of Genghix in Castro Valley

Their menu has graduated from whatever Asian buffet it used to be to “Asian Fusion”, a phrase with so many interpretations nowadays. What they mean at Genghix is Chinese, Japanese, and Thai (more generally referred to on their site as Southeast Asian and Japanese) and all sorts of awesome combos of these cuisines. When I see a menu selection as large as that at Genghix, I often cringe. Is all this stuff really good? Is it fresh? I haven’t tried everything at Genghix by any means, but what I have had was good.

We’ve gone three times in the course of a week and a half. Two of those times were sequential nights. That’s how much I liked it. To quote Black Rob, “Like Whoa“**.

Despite the huge variety on the menu, I have quite a love for Japanese food (as you may know), and hence this has been exclusively what I’ve ordered to date. Our first trip we ordered a Genghix Roll (fried shrimp, lobster, avocado, tobiko), Double Salmon Roll (salmon inside and salmon on top), and an order of salmon Nigiri sushi. Everything was fabulous. The salmon was tasty and generously proportioned on the Nigiri. And the deep fried roll, well, can you really go wrong there?

Japanese Food

Our food from visit #1 to Genghix in Castro Valley

The service on that first visit was also exceptional. The waiter was friendly, helpful, attentive, and he smiled. Like, not just at me in a creepy way, but at us in a nice way. He refilled our waters constantly. He answered our questions. It was wonderful.

Trip number two we went big with our Restaurant.com gift certificate ($50 minimum purchase, we can do it!). Crab won tons, an 18 piece sashimi plate (butter fish, salmon, tuna, albacore), a Tiger Roll (fried shrimp, salmon), and a Magic Cube (chocolate covered white and milk chocolate mousse with a cherry center) for dessert. This meal was truly heavenly. The crab won tons were excellent (but they were deep fried, so that’s not so difficult). But the sashimi melted in my mouth. Literally. Butter fish—which I’ve never before had—was so succulent and savory that I actually ended up saving it for last. The salmon, usually my all-time favorite, came in a paltry third as the albacore was the most flavorful I’ve ever tasted. Even the dessert (good dessert at a Japanese place?) was wonderfully delicious and unique. It was the kind of meal you don’t want to end.

Japanese Food

Our food from visit #2 to Genghix

And so we went the night right after as well. We had to bring friends. The service was a bit more “eh” this time, but the food was just as good in my opinion. I ordered a 12 piece sashimi (soooo good) and other orders at the table consisted of three oysters, hot and sour soup, two more fancy sushi rolls, a cucumber avocado roll and another sashimi plate. Except for one forgotten thing by the waiter (though he didn’t admit that he forgot and stated that it was “on the way”, perhaps the most irritating part of that transaction), third time’s a charm for sure.

Japanese Food

Our food from visit #3 to Genghix

Needless to say, I love this place. Love, love, love. I want to eat there every night. Maybe someday I’ll get around to trying some of their other Asian dishes (Garlic Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Fish, Orange Scallops, Wok Tossed Garlic String Beans, etc.)…or maybe I’ll just order sashimi until I pop. But even then, I bet they’d clean me up quickly and efficiently and not charge me any extra for the mess.

*This is merely a metaphor, not historical fact.

**Yeah, I totally said that.

Genghix Asian Fusion on Urbanspoon





Astaria

16 09 2010
Atmosphere: 4/5   ♦   Service: 4/5   ♦   Food Quality: 4/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Heck yes
___________

AstariaIt’s rare that I would go to (what I would consider) a fancy restaurant because, a) I’m too cheap, and, b) I’m not a food snob (ex: Ono Hawaiian Barbecue makes me giddy). That said, I decided to hit up Astaria in San Mateo as a place to review on my Examiner.com page. Astaria isn’t uber fancy (some dudes were wearing t-shirts) but it is home to fancy menus, dishes designed by an actual “chef”, and $25 dinner plates.

Plus, I’ll be completely honest, I have a virtually unlimited supply of Restaurant.com coupons* that I try to use as often as possible. Therefore, with a $35 minimum purchase at Astaria, I received $25 off, not including tax and tip, and hence, for the price of a dinner at Applebee’s ($26 total), Boyfriend and I enjoyed a meal far nicer than frozen garlic bread and mozzarella sticks**.

That is how my love for Astaria was born. I won’t bother repeating the highlights for you here when I have dutifully written them up on Examiner already (click the link and I get a penny!). However, I will offer you, fair reader, a chance to also save $25 on a dinner at Astaria. If I know you (a key term in this equation) and you want to try out Astaria one fine night, call me up and I’ll email you a coupon for $25 off a $35 purchase. Virtually unlimited coupons, remember? That said, I don’t want to burn all my coupons on people who’ll never use them, so ask me if you’ve actually made a date to head over to SM. But seriously, it’s worth the trip.

Astarria Food Collage

Assorted yummies from Astaria!

*My stupid, horrible Chase credit card gives me bonus points that only work for useless things like flights on only United Airlines and coupons that require a minimum purchase rather than actual gift certificates. See my lighthearted rant about the pros and cons of Restaurant.com here.

**Though I would never look down on mozzarella sticks; they are heavenly, even from Applebee’s.

Astaria on Urbanspoon





Coach Sushi

4 09 2010
Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 2/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 3/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Probably Not
___________

Coach can be found at 532 Grand Avenue in Oakland along an increasingly nice strip of shops and restaurants around the lake. Between the few strikingly crazed homeless folks and odd smell wafting from special parts of the lake, this area is extremely nice. And it’s nice enough currently to draw joggers, dog walkers and a plethora of normal people to make a visit wholly worthwhile and enjoyable. After a loop around the lake, our double-dating group settled on Coach Sushi for dinner, to which none of us had previously been.

I hate to steal the exact ratings from the sushi post just before this, but Coach happened to strike the same reaction from me as Hayward Japan Grill did. Which was not great. The odd thing was that Coach was packed with people on this Sunday evening at dusk, and I’ve heard from a friend since that he’s a big fan of Coach. Maybe we just hit it on a bad night. Either way, we didn’t have a great experience except for the company.

Coach sushi

The inside of Coach Sushi in Oakland.

This place is small and cozy as so many sushi places are. The menu was a conglomerate mess of choices with an organizational process that would confuse a schizophrenic. That is to say, the visual layout was terrible and the sections were scattered and placed in no discernible order, which made it very hard to wrap my mind around exactly what my choices were for dinner. I finally just gave up, stopped on the page I was on and chose something. I’m not sure if everyone else was annoyed by this as much as I was (I’m particularly sensitive to a terribly packaged menu), but I found it heinous.

Having said that, the choices, if you could sort through them, appeared highly varied and often creative. What scared me a bit, however, was when I ordered my salmon sashimi donburi and basically had to spell it out for the waitress because she said she’s never had anyone order that. Great.

salmon sashimi donburi

My salmon sashimi donburi from Coach Sushi, which was quite good.

The food was decent but not fabulous. At our table there was a sashimi dinner, a carrot-avocado roll and a spicy tuna roll in addition to my donburi. All were reported to be acceptable but nothing special. We did not appreciate that they did not come out even near the same time, which makes eating in a group a bit of a challenge when you’re not sharing food.

The sashimi was not a whole lot for the price as compared to some other restaurants and was of mediocre quality. The carrot-avocado roll was a combination our fully-vegetarian friend had not seen before and was excited about. The tuna roll was decent. My donburi was actually quite good: a generous amount of raw salmon and assorted pickled veggies over rice. I found it quite enjoyable.

sushi

Spicy Tuna Roll and Avocado Carrot Roll came on the same plate even though the people that ordered them were sitting kitty corner to each other. Grumble.

Also, the miso soup was good and the chop sticks were the nice kind which makes any Japanese meal more enjoyable.

The service was the worst part, however. Not only did we not receive water refills but once in about 2 hours, two of four of us found bits of ants in the water. Extra protein, sure, but we were neither grateful nor amused. I’m not a freak-out-when-something-is-out-of-place-with-my-food sort of person*, so I actually just kept drinking. Don’t judge me.

They have a special sake drink that comes in a small bamboo box and which I think is all-you-can-drink for a fixed price. My friend ordered this, but it never came. Fortunately the waitress realized this later, apologized and asked if she still wanted the drink (she said no thanks) and it wasn’t on the bill. Still, not impressing us at all with the attention to detail.

And finally, it took about a half hour for someone to bring us our bill, which was ok since we were chatting together as friends do, but this was the clincher on my feeling of terrible service at this place. Maybe it was a bad night, maybe we had a careless waitress, maybe she misinterpreted our conversation for a desire not to have the bill delivered, who knows. We didn’t have a great experience and (I’ll say it again) there are too many great sushi places to waste time on poor ones.

*I am, however, a complain-about-it-on-the-internet person, as so many of us are nowadays, so take that.

Coach Sushi on Urbanspoon








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers