My experiences with Hawaiian shave ice have been dismal in the Northwest. (Hawaiians do not use a “d” at the end of “shave.”) As recently as two weeks ago at Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle, the ice has always been crushed into pellets, tiny to be sure, but pellets nonetheless, crunchy rather than snowy like those made in Hawaii. I am ever searching for good shave ice locally, ready to face disappointment every time.
So it was a mild shock that the shaved ice at Happy Melon, which recently opened in Factoria, was actually not bad. Connected to Jing Jing Asian Market in such a way that it seems part of it, Happy Melon uses an ice machine that does indeed scrape ice from the top of a rotating block, but the result is still not powdery but rather flaked in the style of Chinese xue hua bing. The result is still leagues better than anything else around here. A mound of ice is huge enough to hold three separate flavors of syrup, of which there are many, and scooped into a big plastic cone, which to me always raises the question of environmental friendliness, even in Hawaii. The three syrup flavors I got—passionfruit, mango and coconut—were very sweet and somewhat lacking in intense fruit flavors like those in Hawaii. Still, the shaved ice is good enough (☆☆½) that I won’t have to consider flying to the islands just to satisfy my craving.
Shave ice with passionfruit, mango and coconut syrups
Happy Melon’s server and shave ice machine
Besides shave ice, Happy Melon sells bubble teas, espresso and Chinese baked items and has hot deli foods.
Related posts—best shave ices
12402 SE 29th St
Bellevue, WA 98006
The popularity of kaiten-zushi has revolutionized the eating of sushi since its inception in Japan in the late 1950s. No longer do customers have to sit at a bar with limited seating and order from the sushi chef who promptly and expertly makes it while you wait. Instead, a conveyor belt with ready-made sushi snakes its way clockwise through the restaurant, gliding past customers who both face the belt at the bar or sit crosswise in booths. There is no longer a master sushi maker (typically) but chefs who can still put out decent product. In order to reduce cost, most of these restaurants use automatic nigiri making machines, a far cry from the art of making sushi-meshi (sushi rice) that can take an apprentice years to master. And while a master sushi chef knows how to purchase and identify the best quality seafood, the kaiten chefs usually rely on prepackaged seafood from a wholesaler. You can argue that this concept demeans the traditional sushi-making and eating experience or democratizes it so that more people can enjoy it. Sushi typically comes three on a plate which, along with other dishes such as boiled edamame, fried calamari and shrimp, or desserts, customers can remove from the belt and eat. The plates are color-coded which determines their price, almost always under $5. Let’s just say that I’ve done my fair share of eating at kaiten-zushis and enjoyed them, even when I’ll have to admit that none of them has ever given me a “wow” experience. For that, I hope I don’t have to eat and pay a king’s ransom at Jiro in Tokyo.
Genki Sushi is a chain of kaiten-zushi started in Japan in 1990. It has since expanded throughout the world with almost 200 branches. In the U. S., it quickly gained traction in Hawaii before spreading eastward to Washington state and California. The one in Bellevue is located in Factoria Mall, accessible both from inside the mall and outside. Like most sushi restaurants of this type, it is longer in one dimension than the other to make it easier for the preparers to load the moving belt from their work area.
As at other kaiten-zushis, the food, if not first-rate, was fine overall, fresh-tasting and satisfying (☆☆½), definitely easy on the wallet. The ramen, on the other hand, was weak (☆☆). Genki has also joined the ranks of others in offering certain sushis topped with sauces, most of them mayonnaise-y or sweet-and-spicy, which depending on your point-of-view is either horrifying (non-traditional) or greatly expands the variety. You take your pick.
Tempura crab roll
Creamy scallop roll
Spicy tempura roll
Tamago (egg) nigiri
3928 Factoria Square Mall SE
Bellevue, WA 98006