Every day, it seems like another sushi restaurant or Japanese izakaya joint opens its doors in Burnaby. But if you're looking for the most authentic Japanese fare in the city, look no further than Hi Genki Restaurant, located next door to the National Nikkei Heritage Centre.
Don't judge the small eatery by its initial appearance. There's no flashing lights, the menus are photocopied, the tables are bare-bones basic and there's very little decoration, save for the endless stream of seniors coming for lunch and dinner.
The seniors actually have more right to be there than anybody else, because the restaurant is primarily there to serve them.
Non-residents are invited to order off the à la carte menu.
I've known about Hi Genki for eight years now, and it's the one Japanese place I suggest to anybody who wants real Japanese food at affordable prices and with large portions.
When my nephew celebrated his birthday recently, that's where we took him.
The daily specials change according to what is in season. When we visited, we could have chosen grilled pike mackerel, lightly salted, for $8.95 or breaded fried snapper at $9.50.
Instead, we went with a chicken donburi bowl, complete with a generous topping of vegetables ($7.95), and two of the deluxe bento boxes ($12.50 each).
The chicken donburi features a generous bed of rice and marinated chicken.
I always start with the best and the two large prawn tempuras were done before everything else.
My nephew was methodically making his way through his chicken and rice, which is a meal in and of itself. The boy's a swimmer with the Burnaby Barracudas, so he needed the energy boost.
I moved from the tempura to the salmon sashimi, which was as silky and fresh as any I've tasted in Burnaby. The meal was so filling that I barely finished.
The history of Hi Genki is unique as it's part of the Fujiya chain of Japanese supermarkets.
The parent company bid for the food services contract at the seniors' residence because one of the higher-ups had a parent living at one of the seniors' homes and wanted to make sure nutritious, traditional Japanese food was being served. The restaurant serves the New Sakura-so and the Nikkei Home.
Hi Genki Japanese Restaurant, located at 6680 Southoaks Cresc., is open seven days a week for lunch, from 11: 30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 6: 15 to 8: 30 p.m. for dinner. For info, call 604-777-0533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.