Since early this winter, Ginza Sushi has been serving up sushi and more in style on Greenfield Road in Lancaster. A “Grand Opening” banner celebrates the addition of this eatery in its easy-to-find location next to Isaac’s Restaurant and just down the road from Costco.
My dining companion and I had a tasty and authentic experience when we visited the restaurant in mid-February. I should have practiced my chopstick skills in advance, but upon finding the paper-wrapped sets on the table (and no conventional silverware), I rose to the occasion, despite being a little rusty.
Our bento boxes – like the serene, mahogany-toned interior of the restaurant – were high-quality presentations. We started with an edamame appetizer and worked our way through the various components of the box, which was (for me, at least) a full meal.
Each box comes with miso soup, a salad with ginger dressing, a meat or protein entree, one sushi roll, white rice, some small dumplings, three orange slices and a tiny compartment in the middle to hold the ginger and wasabi.
For the entree, we chose shrimp and vegetable tempura and chicken teriyaki. Both were nicely done, tender and tasty without the overpowering coatings and sauces you get at some places. The tempura – which is always a draw for those of us who will eat batter-dipped anything – was nice and crispy, not over-soaked in oil.
Both of us really enjoyed the green seaweed salad between the entree and sushi compartments in the box. It was nicely textured, fairly mild, fresh-tasting and a great complement to its neighbors.
The meal came with an abundance of white rice – too much for us to finish in one sitting. In the end, we had to box up some of our food, but the servers were happy to do it – and we got re-usable containers, not Styrofoam.
Our service was excellent, and our polite and enthusiastic server seemed to be enjoying her shift. It’s nice to see a family-run restaurant where family members called upon to staff the place enjoy their work.
For those of us who watch entirely too much Gordon Ramsay, there’s a tendency to expect the worst out of a family-run restaurant scenario. And although you might consider him just another manifestation of reality show dreck, Ramsay does serve to remind us that there’s a lot to running a restaurant – and that it’s easy to lose your stars and more trying to stay true to a food philosophy and a business plan. But clearly, there’s a good plan in place at Ginza.
For Vivian Wu, who runs the restaurant, the approach for Ginza is back to basics: serve fresh food and accommodate the customer.
Wu and her family previously owned Mitaka Restaurant in Harrisburg – another establishment featuring Japanese cuisine and sushi. Wu says one significant improvement with Ginza is that she and her family were able to plan the decor. Rather than acquiring the restaurant as an existing operation and keeping the status quo intact, they created a totally original dining area. This is apparent in the neat, sophisticated space that Wu and her family have put together.
The timing of Ginza’s grand opening made for a slow start, according to Wu. The holidays and the monstrous winter storms that kept dumping snow on Lancaster County didn’t help the initial traffic. But now, as Lancastrians dig themselves out, things are looking up. “Everything’s getting better,” says Wu.
The freshness of Ginza’s food is a definite draw for customers. Wu says the restaurant gets frequent deliveries in order to maintain high standards.
Wu also takes particular pride in the high-quality sushi. Her brother, who runs the sushi bar, has seven years of experience in the craft. Using green vegetables, fish, fish roe, creamy sauces and more, he has created a range of appealing rolls with something for everyone.
In addition to raw fish options, Ginza offers veggie rolls and other choices for the less adventurous sushi eater – which is good, since the last time this food-cautious, wanna-be vegetarian ate anything close to raw meat was several years ago. I enjoy my veggie or mock-lobster roll as much as any vegetarian enjoys a particularly nice soy sausage or meatless chicken nugget. And although real sushi connoisseurs might look down their noses at this approach, it’s nice that restaurants like Ginza give people like me an out when it comes to navigating this kind of cuisine.
Overall, dining at Ginza is a great experience and a great way to enjoy good food in a warm and comfortable atmosphere. For the more provincial older generations of Lancaster, it’s a great place to start a new culinary adventure.
• 565 Greenfield Road, Lancaster; 735-3888 or 735-8088
• Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.