By DISCOVER SILICON VALLEY, Redwood City, 2001
Dinning at House of Genji is like a magic show, cooking class and party all rolled into one delicious gastronomic
experience. From the beautiful kimono-clad waitresses that seem to float through the restaurant like delicate butterflies, to the
superbly talented chefs who perform culinary stunts before your very eyesand the delectable cuisine and aromas that linger in your
subconscious long after you have left, a trip to this Japanese steak and seafood restaurant is anything but dull.
All this plus a slice of high tech culture. At our table sat a rowdy group of techies with one hand on their cell phones and the other
on their chopsticks. A palpable spark of energy prevaded the whole room, where chefs were deftly slicing, dicing and flipping food
items in the air, while diners gasped and cheered through the hissing of oils and meals on the grills.
An oversized menu was placed before us, presenting options from smoked salmon sashimi, fried rice, calamari, steak and lobster,
chicken and scallops to a vegetarian platter. Our pleasant waitress, Hanna, suggested I try the Genji Combination, a steak and
prawnsdish that has been a House of Genji favorite for 30 years. My dinner companion selected the Chicken and Scallops entree.
Along with this we ordered two cocktails, a fruity Mai Tai, and a delightful Pina Colada-like Chi Chi, and sipped them we waited for
our chef to appear.
Both of our meals included soup, salad, a shrimp appetizer, Steamed rice, vegetables and hot green tea. Our salads were just the
right size, with a delicate house dressing made with spicy sweet mustard. The clear broth soup was extreemely light yet quite
flavourful, with a touch of green onions, mushrooms and noodies that opened up our appetites tremendously (of course, the delightful
aromas emanating from the adjoining tables also added to our growing hunger). And then in he walked - a vision all in white pulling a
cart full of meats, seafood, vegetables, rice and seasonings. He winked at us before commencing his Teppan-yaki style
performance, and then began preparing our fried rice, expertly chopping carrots and onions while frying the eggs and rice. As we
both ate our rice, flavourfully seasoned with soy sauce and pepper, he continued with the meal preparation frenetically tossing
steaks, bite-sized bits of chicken, salmon, shrimp, prawns broccoli, sprouts, mushrooms and zucchini on the grill. We were
mesmerized by the hand-is-quicker-than-the-eye knife handling by our plates without missing (don't try at home!). It was hard to
focus on eating while the amazing David Copperfield-like performance was still going on.
Our meals were fantastic, with delicious morsels of steak and chicken we unbashedly dunk into the semi-sweet mustard-based
dipping sauce that was simply out-of-this-world. The shrimp and scallops were tender and lemony, while the vegetables were crisp
and even more flavourful when combined with the ginger dipping sauce. When I asked Hanna what ingradients made up the two
sauces, she smiled and politely declined to tell us since the recipes are well-kept fa,ily secrets. Our evening ended with a light and
refreshing orange sorbet and green tea ice cream that we both greatly enjoyed, as well as plum wine that sweetly capped the night
- Karen Grafe