A lot of restaurants these days claim to offer organic foods to diners, but few places make it their main selling point. But this is indeed what Genki Ya, a Japanese restaurant in Brookline, is doing. In fact, this bright and friendly little dining spot near Coolidge Corner is so dedicated to organic food that the back of their menu is dedicated to frequently asked questions (FAQS) on organic education. Of course, none of this would matter if the food weren't good here, but Genki Ya scores big with both sushi and Japanese entrees that rival some of the best that the Boston area has to offer.
Genki Ya is located on a stretch of Harvard Street that has a number of restaurants, including one the region's best Thai spots (Dok Bua) that happens to be across the street from Genki Ya, and a couple of well-known delis (Zaftigs and Rubin's) nearby. The exterior of Genki Ya features an attractive, brightly-lit green sign and a rather exotic entrance that entails walking through a curtain. The interior is also attractive and is clean and nicely laid out, with lots of bright woods, a small sushi bar on the left, and a handful of tables connected by wooden benches. Soft music plays in the background, helping give a calming feel to the place.
The menu at Genki Ya runs quite long, with a number of soups (including a delicious miso soup with tiny sprout-like mushrooms), salads, side orders, and appetizers (with one highlight being the tender steamed pork gyoza). For main dishes, sushi tends to dominate the menu at Genki Ya, though there are a number of non-sushi entrees, including a wonderful chicken katsu dish, which features breaded and deep-fried chicken with veggies on the side and a thick soy-based sauce for dipping, and an equally good curry rice with chicken katsu. Other entrees include beef teriyaki, udon noodles, and soba noodles. The beautifully-presented sushi dishes offered at Genki Ya are too numerous to list here (flying fish roe, eel, crab, shrimp, and white fish are just a few options), but the triple roll is one worth mentioning, as the tuna, king salmon, and yellowtail are extraordinarily tasty and as fresh as can be, and the dish can be ordered spicy or non-spicy. For folks who are vegetarians (or simply do not like fish), there are a number of options, including a sweet potato tempura roll that is flash-fried (giving it a slight crunch), and has the seaweed wrap placed between the outer band of rice and the sweet potato in the center. Other vegetarian options include an earthy, mellow-tasting mushroom tempura roll with lettuce wrapped around the mushrooms, a crunchy cucumber roll, and a chilled fruit roll that includes avocado, banana, and mango. No matter what diners order at Genki Ya, a tasty little treat awaits at the end; a mix of green tea ice cream, tapioca pearls, red beans, and coconut milk, all with a spearmint leaf on top. It may be a simple dish, but it is a terrific way to end any meal at this restaurant.
While Genki Ya is perhaps one of the least known restaurants on Harvard Street in Brookline, it may just be one of the best; the outstanding food, friendly service, attractive interior, and fair prices all make this dining spot a must for anyone who likes sushi. And their dedication to organic ingredients just adds to the appeal of the place. Definitely a big thumbs-up for this little Japanese restaurant between Coolidge Corner and the Allston border. [Ed note: Newer locations of Genki Ya can be found in downtown Boston, the Fresh Pond section of Cambridge, and Dedham.]
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