Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lunchee Special

Is there anything that warms the Korean heart more than a lunchee special? I can count on my hairs the number of times I've heard my mother use the words "lunchee special" with an intonation combining reverence, greed and fear in equal measures. Usually this is because it's a weekend and there is no lunch special as is obvious from the menu which clearly instructs that the lunch special is reserved for Monday to Friday dining. Nonetheless, my mother always asks if there's a lunch special even though it's a Saturday. The funny thing is she's always a bit disappointed when it is confirmed that the lunch special is a Monday to Friday event. She recovers but she longs for the lunch special with its ample portions, its delightful bounty and its absurdly cheap prices. I must confess that secretly, the same longing for the lunchee special rings fast and loud in my own Korean heart.

Of the fabled lunch specials this town has to offer, the one I've longed for ardently has been the lunch at Sushi Gen. Well, several weeks ago, my friend Lisa and I organized things so that we could realize this long deferred dream. She called up and made a reservation and was instructed to show up around 11:00 a.m. I picked her up for this momentous event and we made our way to Sushi Gen as instructed. There was a short line but when the doors opened, we filtered in and were seated at which point we both lost our heads. Having failed to research, panicked by the crowds and our own ignorance how to proceed, we did the unspeakable: we ordered the chicken teriyaki. When we saw that everyone else had a sashimi platter, we realized the depths to which we had plunged, we felt the cold seep into our bones and the life ebb from our flesh. Much as Adam and Eve staggered out of paradise, we trudged our way out of Sushi Gen our breath reeking of chicken teriyaki flavored remorse for what could have been.

Sushi Gen line
The line-up starts around 10:50 a.m. or so. Everyone was seated and it appears that you can come as late as noon without having much of a wait for a table.
miso soup n tofu
Miso soup and tender tofu braised in a sweet soy sauce with chunks of beef.
Salty pickled cabbage and cucumbers.
teriyaki sashimi
Sashimi slices that accompany the Teriyaki Chicken lunch special. The chicken was wonderfully crispy on the edges, tender and full of that sugary umami smoky flavor of teriyaki.
chicken teriyaki

Unlike the original sinners, however, Lisa and I returned to the scene of the crime, as it were, and we made things right. We ordered the sashimi lunch special for $15 and this is what we got.

sashimi lisa
Tuna, spicy tuna, crab meat, salmon chopped up and seasoned with sesame oil and green onions, octopus, squid, hamachi, braised tuna in a soy reduction and grilled salmon.
all dishes

You walk out of there looking like this fellow.


A few weeks later, I brought my mother because I knew if anyone would get a kick out of this almost too much abundance, "it would be she" as a Real Housewife of New Jersey might say in lieu of saying it would be her. Not only did she get a kick out of it, she took out her little notebook where she keeps all manner of phone numbers, addresses, trivia, english pronunciations, bon mots, recipes, birthdays, gifts received, gifts bestowed, who owes who, etc. etc. and she opened it to a random page and began writing down the address and phone number so she could come back with her cronies.

We then marched triumphantly to Mikawaya for some mochi ice cream and mochi. Whilst eating our Sakura mochi with its salty cherry leaf and its delightfully bumpy strawberry like appearance, my eye was drawn to one of those machines full of stuffed animals and a mechanical arm that you can use to pinch a plushie.

I hankered for the plushie with all the fervor of an eight year old. My mother provided the dollar and I gave it my best shot but I didn't even come close to pinching a fat plush head. My attempts to wrest a further dollar bill from my mother being unsuccessful, we left this plaza of broken dreams. On our way back to Sushi Gen, in the Honda Plaza, we passed this sweet shop, Frances, that I had never seen before. I stopped in and was dazzled by the desserts. Being too full I could only photograph them like the food lecher that I am. However, there's always room for chocolate so I got a green tea and a salt truffle. They're hand made but they're also $2 each. I got them to see if they'd be suitable for gift giving, and while they're nice, they didn't punch you in the guts with flavor which is essentially what a $2 choccy should do. I'd definitely try a tart though. Next time I guess. After I win myself a bratty looking plushie doll or two.

Yes, those cuticles belong to me. I guess my hand modeling career is over.
Suitable for all ages. That's what it said.
This is the bratty face and bangs of the plushie that I wanted to pinch with the metal tweezers. So cute huh?
Frances has been around for like 30 years according to the bakery employee I spoke with. I have no idea why I've never seen it before as I've been to the Honda Plaza numerous times.
The saran wrap really hurts the presentation but there's a large selection of treats.
macarons and tarts
The fruit tarts are stunningly gorgeous. Look at those purple black blueberries and those scarlet strawberries. Yum.
I love the look of these truffles.
My hands are just dry. That's not leprosy. Anyhows, I highly commend Sushi Gen for their sashimi lunch special and I would bestow my bratty looking plushie doll to them if I had one to bestow. The fish is fresher than fresh, the portions are obesity inducing and the price is so very right. This is a lunch special that makes for a very special lunch indeed.
green tea

Sushi Gen on Urbanspoon


  1. Wondering if Frances Bakery is associated with Mikawaya? Frances Hashimoto owns Mikawaya (friend of my big sister). She was our chaperone on a trip to Tokyo WAY BACK WHEN! : )

  2. I think we are identical cuticle twins. Did you ever see that episode of Friends? Hand twins? Did you watch Friends? Our friendship may hinge on your answer.

    I think I would have been a sinner and ordered the chicken teriyaki too. Sashimi-only plates scare me. Like it would be all fear for me if someone asked if I wanted a plate of only raw fish for a lunchee special. Shudder.

  3. Lunchee special!!! We Chinese love our lunchee special too!

    Oh and I could never be a hand model either. You, me & Diana can be Hand Triplets.

  4. I heart Sushi Gen and ALAG.

    I have beautiful hands. Sorry.

  5. MyLastNibblesandGiggles: Hmm.. That would be awesome. I'd love to own a mochi-ery and a bakery. Yum. And I'm going to Tokyo and eating a gang load of sushi and going to the fish market and watching the cherry blossom festival while sipping a Kirin extra dry. Yay!

    Diana: I've seen your bleedy, dry, torn up looking cuticles and yes, i'm afraid there's a distinct resemblance to my bleedy, dry torn up sausage ends. However, your fingers are long and elegant like you could bust out a Beethoven Moonlight Sonata on us at any minute. My snausages can't reach the keys. Like a midget my fingers are little people.

    I did not watch Friends. Ever. I was too cool at the time. I think we can move past this friendship bump in the road. But shudder at sashimi? Say it ain't so Di.

    DailyOG: I know you chinee love lunchee. It's the yellow in you. Don't fight it girl. Okay hand triplets it is but I suspect yours are at least lotioned and deveined once in a whiles.

    Weezer: What is ALAG? Is that some kind of acronym for sushi? I like it. And yes, I suspected you had beautiful hands too. I guess you have the kind of hands that you're not afraid might be mistook for some kielbasa or some bratwurst. The kind of hands that don't have to be shoved into pockets real quick when the hand inspector comes around. Oh girl. You have no idea what it means to have man hands in this world. I pray you don't find out. It means gloves. It means fear that Jimmy Dean might spot your fingers and get out his cleaver. It means no pink nail polish with diamonte studs. I'll write a book titled "these hands and what they've seen" then you might get a flava.

  6. The feeling of being ushered into the doors of Sushi Gen, reminds me of a cow being led to slaughter kinda overwhelms all bargain euphoria. I think also rates Gen's lunch highly... Now where can I get a CHEAP lunchii special of yang nyum chikin and biru?

  7. my mom likes to say "eat snowly...." to charlie. engrish is tough.

    i think you should put some lotion on them hands! and yes, the sashimi lunch special looks great. seems like a better deal to go during lunch than dinner when we speak of the gen.

  8. Ask your mom if she has any cronie openings for lunch. If not can you write my number in her book under "cronies to lunch w/" Thanks. And stop teasing with those half bite pics.

  9. It isn't just a Korean thang dude, my parents are just STINGY and would like a "lunchee special" on weekends FOR DINNER! *sigh* To be ashamed.. or to be... stingy right along with them!!

    The chicken teriyake looked good! So did the sashimi platter and the truffles and your leprosy, but mmmm I'm a sucker for good saucy teriyake :)

  10. do we even NEED to talk about my midget hands? yes we do.

    also, i wish you could have heard me pronounce "lunchee special" in my head. you know the voice i used.

  11. Sinos: But once you're in your pen all secure with the other piggies in their pens, it's nice! What is yang nyum chicken? Is that boiled chicken with yang yum jang or is that KFC? Do I look like yelp to you?

    Bags: eat snowly. I love it! Yes, I have lotioned my hands and they look ready to take on a Chanel nailpolish campaign. Thank god I was born with beautiful hands.

    Anna A: My mom is ready to include you in her big gang of retired Korean ajumas who lunch, karaoke and spa. Be ready to party like an animal (without any liquor sorry).

    Catty: I know. You chinee are honorary koreans or maybe we koreans are honorary chinee or maybe we're just cheep! And wanting dinner lunch special is totally reasonable! When you move to LA, we go get some teriyaki.

    Harb: small people hand modeling. look into it. seriously. And maybe foot modeling for normal sized people. hehee. Was it your chuckee voice combined w/ come hither/kill look? sexay.