I was very excited when we received an invitation from Geisha, a new restaurant concept by the Red Kimono Group that showcases modern Japanese cuisine. It's so easy to win me over with Japanese food -- invite me over for some good sushi and sashimi, and chances are we'll get along pretty well. What made Geisha's invitation for dinner different was that they also wanted to present their line of high grade sake (brewed rice alcoholic beverage) alongside signature dishes. I usually skip the sake whenever I dine in Japanese restaurants, but what piqued my interest here was the restaurant's variety of sake cocktails -- some of our favorite cocktails, sake-fied. And while I already am in deep love with Japanese food, this new restaurant has me smitten with their sake concoctions.
Geisha is located at Bonifacio High Street Central
But before moving on to my new favorite drinks, let's start off with food first, shall we?
We started our evening with Geisha Carpaccio (P295), slim slices of Yellowfin tuna and Norweigan river salmon that embraced the savory and tart of the olive oil and ponzu sauce. This appetizer was paired with Gekkeikan Traditional sake (P2,250 - 1800ml), which was served chilled. As a starter sake, it was agreeably smooth and light, almost like water -- but with that little spark, since after all, its alcohol content is 14 percent.
Spicy Tuna Crisps (P180) were up next. A dollop of raw tuna cubes mixed with sauces and spices were placed on top of paper thin wontons, and this comes crashing into my mouth with that interplay of soft fish meat with the crunchy and salty wonton crisps. Complimenting this was the Zipang sake (P850 - 250ml) with 7 percent alcohol. Light and bubbly, a shot of this is like sipping on champagne, it was fresh and sweet and served chilled.
Spicy Tuna Crisps
Our tuna was followed by more seafood, in the form of Butter Wasabi Oysters (P220). Mmmmm, oysters...the little jewels of the sea. Oven baked, it gave off a roasted scent. The wasabi flavor is infused within the oyster meat, and strips of seaweed are atop. Sprinkle some salt, and schuck it for a delicious treat. Personally, I skip the salt and rather sprinkle some lemon and a bit of the Japanese spices. Nigori sake (P850 - 300ml) was served with this. Compared to the first two shots of sake we had previously, this unfiltered variety is stronger and has a cloudy appearance. Alcohol content: 10 percent.
Butter Wasabi Oysters
Afterward, we were served Salmon & King Prawn Roll (P480), which they recommend be paired with Namachozo sake (P800 - 300ml). The plate of sushi leans more on the sweet side, as the rolls of rice and seafood are drizzled with a honeyaki sauce. The sake is semi-dry, with 13 percent alcohol, and said to be pasteurized for a couple of seconds before being bottled. My tastebuds can sense more layers of flavor on this one, some hints of fruit.
Salmon & King Prawn Roll
Their Kurobuta Gyoza (P285) is now one of my favorite gyozas around. Ever since I was introduced to Japanese food when I was a kid, this dimsum is my staple and fall-back plan in case none of the Japanese dishes in a restaurant entice me. The Geisha version of the dumplings are stuffed with premium grade pork, and the prominence of its flavors and texture is excellent. To modernize this traditional food, it is served with a miso infused tomato sauce. Taru sake (P1,200 - 500ml) was paired with the gyoza, served chilled. This 15 percent alcohol drink is strong, and its taste lingers on your throat. They say that in Japan, this kind of Sake is commonly used for some traditional ceremonies.
We were served with more sushi and traditional items like tempura, but I'd like to highlight the star of the night for its sheer stage (table?) presence and stellar flavor. The Hamachi Sashimi (P240/P495) arrived in a bowl with a bed of glowing ice. The bowl was lit up and this little spectacle was an apt teaser for the luscious, fatty pieces of raw Yellowtail. What a glorious sashimi it was to experience!
For your main course, I recommend Geisha's Miso Glazed Gindara (P950), a perfectly cooked slice of gindara, served with a piece of hajikami (ginger plant) and a delicious edamame flavored risotto. Notable, too, is the Skewered Pork 72 (P370), its number pertaining to the hours of its cooking process to achieve the succulence of its sinful fat and crisp skin. You will definitely distinguish the difference a 3 day cooking process makes. To cut the richness of the meat, sesame sushi rice and ginger wasabi vinaigrette are served alongside.
Miso Glazed Gindara
Skewered Pork 72
If you want to treat yourself to an excellent dish, then the Japanese A5 Wagyu Steak (P1,800) will make you feel like royalty. The folks at Geisha know how to put on a show, as they sound a gong once this dish makes its way to your table. According to their menu, 'A5' is the highest grade of Japanese Wagyu, and is renowned for its excellent marbling and tenderness. True enough, when I ate a slice, the beef (which was just slightly spiced with black pepper) just melts in your mouth! Pure bliss.
Japanese A5 Wagyu Steak
I still have to get used to pairing sake on my nights out eating Japanese food, as cocktails and wine are more of my comfort zone. And so, Geisha's sake cocktails have now become my favorites -- they've become the reason why I frequent the place. It's a great go-to restaurant when you want a steady nightcap with friends, where the ambiance is relaxing, and the food is appetizing.
Geisha's Sake Cocktails
When I bring first-timers to Geisha for drinks, I tell them to order the Sakejito (P230) to experience what probably is the best, smoothest mojito I've tried. My friend who is allergic to rhum can now appreciate the sake-fied mojito, and I'm happy to report that she loves it. The Lychee Saketini (P195) and Sakerita (P195), sake versions of the lychee martini and margarita, are close seconds when it comes to the taste and sake blend. For the adventurous, there's Ginger Sake (P220), which I personally find delicious as I like ginger.
Sakerita and Sakejito
Whether it's a great Japanese feast you are seeking at a new destination, or a steady sake night with friends, Geisha is a great choice for a contemporary gustatory experience. Kampai!