Having lived in Japan for several years, I can tell you that Genji Japanese Steak & Seafood in Warner Robins is Japanese like those kiddie shopping carts are race cars --- entertainingly evocative but adapted for function.
After all, it's a Middle Georgia restaurant. But the place has flair.
The tables are grouped in square sections divided by high, sleek, black railings that promote a sense of intimacy. The bowls for the soup and salad have a stylish Asian touch that I found very interesting --- especially their neat soup spoons. They're those type of spoons that look somewhat like wide-armed ladles. (These things are so well-adapted to eating soup, I think every type of restaurant that serves soup should switch to them --- with modified designs, natch!).
And there's a really cool fish tank filled with what in my mind I called bug-eyed-goldfish-on-steroids. They probably have a different name. They are goofishly fun to watch.
Also available for your viewing pleasure is the cooking staff. They work in front of the dining room behind a waist-high counter. If you've ever been to Ingleside Village Pizza, it's like that.) This setup reminded me of the street booths in Japan where you sat (or stood) right in front of the cook. Another evocative touch.
But, hey, you might ask: What about the food --- this being, you know, a restaurant review and all?
It's pretty good. They specialize in hibachi dishes served with a lot of fried rice and vegetables. They do an excellent job on the rice. It's tasty by itself. You get so much, my wife and I took some home and I ate it --- before she could get to it.
Dinners also come with a what I call a "restaurant salad," which is iceberg lettuce with one slice of tomato and a heap of ordinary salad dressing. If you get a combination you get the soup, which my wife (the soup aficionado in the marriage) rates as very good. And you get to use those neat soup spoons.
The combinations (from $11.25 to $22.95) are --- you guessed it --- combinations of two or three of the meats from the dinner menu: filet mignon, rib-eye steak, shrimp, scallops, chicken teriyaki, lobster and something called Yakiniku steak.
On the dinner menu (from $6.99 to $13.99), but not listed as part of a combination, are a vegetable dish, calamari and hibachi tuna, salmon or mahi-mahi.
Never having heard of Yakiniku steak, I ordered that on our first visit and liked it a lot. It's a stripped-sliced steak with a glazy marinade --- a unique taste.
My mother-in-law joined my wife and I that first time, so we got to sample a lot --- the filet mignon, scallops, Yakiniku steak, shrimp and chicken. We ate it all. So I guess there's my review in a nutshell. We ordered a variety of food and when we left, we'd left nothing. On our second visit, I ordered the lobster which turned out to be very, verrrrrry delicious.
But with effort and research, you can cook any dish you'd find in a restaurant and probably just as well. So eating out goes beyond the taste of the food, don't you think?
Which is why I mention the sweet spoons and goofy fish. I want to have a little fun when I eat out. I had it at Genji.
One last-but-far-from-least note: The service was perfect. I could double the length of this story discussing how professional the staff was on the two busy nights we ate there.
Those hardworking folks are the real flair at Genji.
Check 'em out.
Genji Japanese Steak & Seafood
2907 Watson Blvd. No. A-1,
Phone number: (478) 922-5060
Price range: $2.95-$22.95
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday to Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Dinner: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit cards, checks
Noise level: Low to moderate
Children's menu: Yes
Vegetarian selections: Yes\
Latest health code rating: 97