Genji returning to Rittenhouse with Hai Street Kitchen

The former Grillicious at 32 S. 18th St.

Genji - one of Center City's earlier Japanese/sushi restaurants - is making a return to Rittenhouse.

But this version - branded as Hai Street Kitchen & Co. and due to open in May at 32 S. 18th St. - will be a new concept.

Hai Street Kitchen & Co. bases its menu on proteins and vegetables, served either in a bowl or rolled up with rice in a seaweed wrapper that makes it look like a Japanese burrito or the fattest sushi roll you've ever seen.

This customizable, counter-service style is seen all over, at such places as culinarily diverse as Chipotle, Agno Grill, honeygrow, and WokWorks. 

Genji executive chef Takao Iinuma, a former sous chef for Masaharu Morimoto, is behind the Hai Street, whose first location opened yesterday in London's Leadenhall Market. The concept was developed here, as the Philly based Genji signed the lease for the former Grillicious back in December.

Genji was founded in University City in the mid-1980s by grocer-turned-restaurateur Hideo Omori. After Omori's 1999 death, the last storefront version of Genji, at 1720 Sansom St., was sold and rebranded as Kingyo. That building has been vacant for several years.

Meanwhile, Genji is a big player in wholesale thanks to an arrangement with Whole Foods to staff and run 100 sushi stands inside the supermarkets.