A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sample dishes at the new Genji Izakaya eatery, located within Wholefoods in Columbus Circle. Genji Izakaya is a Japanese pub inspired joint, featuring small bites and a very nice selection of craft beers including some locally brewed craft beers. Wholefoods is already known to carry a lot of great craft beers but we decided to visit the newly opened Izakaya mostly for its tap selection.
We met with Ryan, the guy in charge of Izakaya's tap list and he talked us through their selection at the time. When we were visiting, these were the beers on their tap menu: Hoponious Union from Jack's Abby, Susan from Hills Farmstead Brewery, Red Seal Ale from North Coast Brewing Co., Brand New Family from Finback Brewery in Queens, Stush from J. Wakefield Brewing, Neon Lights from Grimm, Sump Coffee Stout from Perennial Beer, Fresler from Mikkeller Felser and Baltic Porter from Smuttynose. We were really happy to see a Queens (Finback) brewery included in their tap list! Izakaya's tap list is constantly changing- it changes multiple times in a day!
As previously mentioned, we got to taste a handful of dishes from Izakaya's menu. We started with their sushi taco trio with spicy tuna, salmon and shrimp tempura. The tacos were great and went well with Neon Lights from Grimm. I liked the varying textures and flavors within the three tacos. We also tried the shrimp tempura bao slider (with spicy mayo, lettuce and scallions) and the chashu pork bao slider (with teriyaki sauce, lettuce and scallions). The bao sliders were also satisfying. I highly recommend it for those who aren't very hungry but want to have something in their stomachs.
Michael and I also shared the Salmon Carpaccio. We both loved this dish and finished it rather quickly. It's best to consider this dish solely as an appetizer. Its small size but rich flavor makes it a wonderful precursor to a larger dish or an ensemble of small dishes such as the aforementioned chashu pork bao slider.
While staying true to their pub roots, Izakaya does offer entrees in the form of ramen dishes. Those of us who have become well acquainted with ramen should remain satisfied. Their selection of ramen dishes is limited to only two offerings: mini tonkatsu ramen and mini veggie ramen. Both pack a great deal of flavor. The serving size is plentiful as well. Don't expect any reinvention of ramen. Izakaya brings the dish to the more casual diner. Consider it ramen training wheels, which isn't necessarily a bad thing and one could assume more varied dishes to be added to the menu as interest peaks.
What I also really liked about Izakaya is that their menu is very allergy-friendly in that they let you know if fish, shellfish, wheat, egg or soy are used as ingredients in their dishes. We definitely would recommend Izakaya for those who haven't had Japanese cuisine and want to explore it one step at a time. With that said, we highly recommend Izakaya for those new to craft beers and want to try amazing local brews.