Cheap and easy, Japanese food delivers as winter sets in

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Rainy days call for lazy lunches. But I’ve eaten more delivery pizza and drive-thru menu options lately than I’d like to admit, so when my friend Lamar and I decided to grab lunch on this dreary and unseasonably warm Sunday, we hit the road.

We didn’t know exactly where we were headed when he hopped in my car, him searching places on his phone while I drove. He’s been trying to get me to try this restaurant on Randleman Road, but this would be the second time I’ve agreed only to pull up in the parking lot and find it closed. Lamar called ahead to a soul food joint, but nobody answered and we couldn’t find a website. We elected to drive down the nearby Gate City Boulevard, knowing there would be more than enough options on the city’s so-called International Restaurant Row to please us.

But we wanted to try somewhere new, and for a food writer and his Greensboro native and food enthusiast friend, that’s no easy task. We pulled up to a taqueria attached to a small market, way out towards Jamestown, but it appeared that the adjoining eatery might be out of business.

I say all this not to whine, but to set the scene (it was a bleak, gray day and we were increasingly hungry) and to make a point (that at times Greensboro’s dining options are depressingly lackluster).

I’ve never heard anyone mention Ginza, a Japanese restaurant that’s right alongside the road in an area where many are set back in shopping centers, right at the intersection of Groometown and Gate City by the $1.50 theater. But despite the late lunch hour, patrons filled almost half of the rather plain restaurant, with others popping in to pick up takeout orders.

A standard lunch special, with beef and shrimp.

If we lived closer and were approaching this lazy lunch properly, that’s what we would’ve done, too — a bowl of udon noodle soup so hot it’s almost scalding is the perfect rainy day couch food. It may not be as good as the pork cutlet udon at Grill N’ Pho U inside of Super G Mart, but at $6.50 for chicken & udon, I’m certainly not complaining.

Cheap, no frills food is perfect for days like these, or casual lunches in general. With teriyaki or hibachi vegetarian combo options as low at $4.25 — or sesame chicken for just $5.15 — Ginza is a huge trade up from the normal fast-food feast you could lock down for the same amount.

The other lunch choices remain mostly straightforward, but there are combinations with scallop, the fish is flounder we were told, there’s steak and then there’s yakiniku (grilled) steak, and there are four soba noodle options. When it comes to appetizers, popular items including edamame, gyozas (fried, and pretty tasty but not remarkable), one shumai, cheese wontons and shrimp and spring rolls.

The gyozas

I’m guessing that a whole lot of uninitiated Greensborians have come here and been pissed when their udon dish arrived, because the server clarified when I ordered it that I knew I’d be getting a soup. That’s fair, considering it’s under the noodle heading on the menu and there isn’t much in the way of a description, but that might give you a little insight into what Ginza is like.

There are other Japanese restaurants in this area of southwest Greensboro, most notably Kiha II of Japan. Ginza doesn’t quite reach that bar, instead ranking above small but busy dives such as Midori Express on Randleman Road.

But the appeal here is the price point and convenience. For our gloomy Sunday, Ginza felt perfect.

 

Visit Ginza at 2807 Groometown Road (GSO).