A sample of sushi

By Jessica Swink | Mar 19, 2014
Samples of sushi from Saki Sushi, made my Janet Green.

Sushi may be a culinary dish most know from Japan, but a fair share of delicious sushi restaurants can be found in Waynesville.

Ganko Express, Saki Sushi and Kobe Express are just a few of the restaurants in the area that offer up a menu for adventurous locals. Most people know sushi in either two forms — rolls or raw fish.

Western countries have brought a wide range of variation to the meal, offering things as outlandish as sushi pizza. It didn’t start that way though. Originally, sushi was created as a type of “fast food,” something people could quickly grab and take on the go. It’s a process that requires training.

Ganko Express

Ganko Express on South Main Street hires only cooks who are experienced with sushi preparation, and they still have things to learn to modify to the restaurant’s style, like preparing the crunchy ganko roll that is a customer favorite.

Ganko Express has been located in Waynesville for over three years, offering Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes. The business has changed hands a few times, but newest managers, Kata Maung and John Khai, are devoting themselves to providing a fresh approach to the business and giving their customers the best service possible.

Since taking over the business in October, they are sure to hire only experienced cooks who know how to create dishes quickly and efficiently, minimizing customer wait time. The food is flavorful with more spice to suit American tastes. Portions sizes and food-to-cost ratio are some of the most impressive things about Ganko Express, with plates full to the edges of rice, steamed vegetables and meat.

Sushi is also available, with a separate menu detailing various flavors. Maung suggests trying the mango tuna sushi and the crunchy ganko roll, which is a Ganko Express exclusive. Be sure to stop by Ganko Express on Georgia Drive when looking for quick and friendly service and good food to go with it.

For Ganko Express, it’s a wide variety of cuisine coupled with heavy spices to make for a stronger flavor in their sushi. Some like Ganko Express are going for a more modern look, with bright green walls and standard tables for families to gather around for lunch.

Kobe Express

The sushi at Kobe Express is made by a chef, Cha Cha, who has been called one of the best in the Southeastern US. He trained all across Asia, ranging from China to Vietnam.

There are various speciality rolls available, ranging from the Rock N’ Roll, made with smoked salmon, avocado, smoked eel, and eel sauce, to the Kobe Roll, made with blue crab, scallops, cucumber, shrimp, avocado, and spicy sauce. All sauces are homemade to provide a unique customer experience. The owners recommend teriyaki chicken as a crowd favorite, as well as anything from the hibachi grill.

The experience, however, is customizable, and guests are also able to call ahead and order for pickup, in case they have a need to grab and go. For Kobe Express, it’s customer service and a menu that earned them No. 1 in the Waynesville Mountaineer’s Reader’s Choice for asian cuisine. Every restaurant in the area has a different idea about the kind of atmosphere they want to offer their customers.

Kobe Express blends the best of both worlds, with traditional architecture, but a western North Carolina atmosphere, nestled with scenic river outlooks. Their restaurant has areas for a family to sit to enjoy a long meal with each other or booths for a quick lunch before heading back to work.


Saki Sushi

Saki Sushi is traditionally prepared Japanese food at its finest. The owner, Janet Green, has been running her own restaurant for 18 years, though Saki Sushi is the newest of these locations. Located in Waynesville for just over two years, Saki Sushi is geared more toward the traditional, with old-fashioned serving dishes. One of the paintings on the wall, depicting two koi fish, was painted by a friend onto a platter used to prepare sushi.

The restaurant boasts over 50 different kinds of sushi, ranging from traditional vegetable rolls to speciality rolls created by Green herself, who was taught to cook by her grandmother. Green is the only cook for Saki Sushi, preparing everything from the soups and appetizers to the rolls themselves.

She recommends starting with the pulled crabstick salad, a customer favorite, and following it up with a volcano sushi roll with spicy tuna at the center. The raw fish for the sushi is prepared by hand, cleaned and sliced in the shop to ensure the ingredients are as fresh as possible, and all sauces are homemade.

Saki Sushi offers a Waynesville roll, containing eel and cream cheese. Customers often get sushi rolls named after them, so stop in and try Saki Sushi on Howell street for a traditional Japanese experience.

“We name some of the rolls after customers, if they visit often,” Green said.

Whether you’re a long-time fan of sushi or a brand new consumer, the Waynesville restaurants have much to offer. Even if you think raw fish isn’t something for you, there’s no need to despair. Sushi comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and each one is a new experience for even the most seasoned veteran.

Be sure to stop by Ganko Express, Saki Sushi, or Kobe Express in the near future.

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