Saturday, August 18, 2007

Front Loading for Tokyo

To properly prepare my tastebuds for Japan, I am embarking on a Japanese food-fest right here in Los Angeles. The food-fest started approximately 12 years ago when I moved here, as I eat Japanese at least 2x a week. However, for the next two weeks, I am stepping it up a notch! Last night I ate at Geisha House, a trendy bi-level multi theme restaurant owned by the Dolce group.

While I am not a fan of the Dolce group restaurants, I have loved Geisha House since the day I walked in the door opening week. Geisha House has a sake bar, a classic looking sushi bar, a huge two floor dining room with a two story fire place and several private rooms encased in glass. In the private rooms, I always feel like I am eating in a Japanese jewelry box.

I arrived prior to my dinner companions, as is often the case, to enjoy a leisurely cocktail and soak in the atmosphere. I sat in the sake bar and sipped a well deserved ice cold Grey Goose martini and enjoyed a little downtime.

Dinner was spectacular! We ordered particularly well this trip. Usually we over order, because there are so many delicious things on the menu and it is small plate style. We started with eda mame, of course, and my three companions slurped at delicious bowls of miso soup (very heavy on the miso, a rich textured broth) with seaweed, cubes of soft tofu, and long king crab legs practically crawling out of the bowl. Beautiful! Next we shared two large rolls. One called the Heaven with chopped toro, special tuna and spicy tuna rolled in cucumber instead of seaweed. The second is called the Pink Lady Bubu which is made with arare shrimp, cucumber, gold tobiko and spicy crab with eel sauce drizzled over the top. I also insisted that they try the shishito peppers, small tangy green peppers slightly deep fried (no batter) so the skins just slip off in your mouth. DE-lish.

The smartest thing we did was order four orders of the filet mignon instead of trying four different small plates entrees.
It was so delicious. It was a just right portion of filet mignon, marinated and grilled, then served with a light soy, garlic and sesame dipping sauce.It was simple and so great tasting I wouldn't have wanted to share any with someone else.

One of my dining companions brought a special beverage to drink with our meals. Now, I love all kinds of dry sake, hot and cold. But I must say I was a little skecptical when he pulled out a bottle of Hana Lychee Sake. Visions of Japanese wine coolers were dancing in my head. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the first taste. The flavor was floral and a hair fruity, but not in any way sweet or cloying. Think a hint of rosewater or orange flower water rather than syrupy lychee flavoring. It stood up beautifully to the marinated steak without overpowering the more delicate appetizers. And is there a lovelier buzz than a sake buzz? A nice low alcohol fuzziness. I would order this sake any time, and if I can find it in one of the Asian markets by my house I am stocking up.

For dessert we ordered the Rice flour banana fritters which was basically a half banana fried in a tempura mix with caramel and chocolate sauce, the presentation was slightly messy looking but it was delicious.

We also ordered the molten chocolate cake, which was served in a bento box with a healthy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The presentation was just lovely, but the flavor was a little lacking. The cake part was a hair dry and there was not enough molten action happening in the center. But presenting a dessert in a bento box with a lid is such a lovely idea I may have to pick some of these up to have on hand at home

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