WHEN IN MANILA, and looking for the BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT, go to GEISHA JAPANESE RESTAURANT in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig. As my French cousin-in-law once told me, ‘the food we eat should please our 5 senses to fully enjoy it.’ We should be enticed just by looking at it; be excited with the aroma; hear the “crunch” as you dig in the crispiness of the food; delight your tongue in the smooth texture of the fish; and, most importantly, be intoxicated with the burst of flavors in your mouth. This is what Geisha reminded me of.
“A long awaited dream, an evolution and a work of art. Years of refinement, training, experience and skill have led to Geisha.. a refreshing new restaurant by the Red Kimono group. Geisha takes modern Japanese cuisine to a new high with amazing culinary creations, stunning presentation and a touch of class. Drawing from the innovative ‘new style’ Japanese cuisine that Red Kimono has popularized in the local dining scene, Geisha adds a subtler, finer and more delicate touch to every aspect of the restaurant. Everything from the food, to the interiors and the service communicates elegance and sophistication.”
You will instantly feel and see the elegance upon entering the restaurant. The interiors were designed by Japanese designer Hisako Hirayama of Design HQ, with hands-on owner Michael Dargani overlooking and approving the work.
Mike also paid special attention to the washrooms. I loved the lighted faucet! It makes washing more fun :p
I also liked the detail they put on the wallpapers of the washroom. Yes, everything here in Geisha is beautiful! I loved how they played with colors, textures and other media to revolutionize the Japanese dining experience.
Even the table napkins were artistically laid on the beautiful plate. It was also pretty cool to see how they used the different tiles as serving “plates.” Wonderful idea from Geisha!
If you wanted more privacy, the tables on the side will be the perfect spot for you. I noticed that the acoustics were perfect in the restaurant. You will easily carry on a conversation without having to worry of not hearing each other. Mike Dargani was very particular with this. He also made sure that there was ample spacing on the tables, not wanting to overcrowd the restaurant.
I also noticed the well-crafted dining staff’s uniforms – very classy indeed. I was informed that these creations were designed by Tokyo trained Kim Gan of the Gakuya label. Owner Michael Dargani declares, “We wanted to raise the bar with Geisha. Our vision was to set the standard for contemporary Japanese cuisine in the country so we sought out the most passionate, talented and creative individuals to work with and we are thrilled with the results.” I’m sure all the customers are happy as well.
Why name the restaurant GEISHA?
“Geishas are ‘performing artists,’ universally unparalleled in beauty, poise and talent. This brand new Japanese restaurant uses high quality ingredients and puts them together with flair and artform – true to the artistic connotation of all that is suggested by the restaurant’s name.”
British Chef Tom Hines and Chef Ramon Antonio developed Geisha’s superb menu, with Mike Dargani on the background to check which dishes need more of this and less of that. On the other hand, Mike’s beautiful vegetarian wife, Nameeta Dargani, was in charge with Marketing and approving the vegetarian dishes. Best team-up ever! They created magic with Geisha Modern Japanese Restaurant!
Chef Ramon Antonio (Chef, Geisha)
(L-R) Mrs. Nameeta Dargani and Mr. Michael Dargani (Owners, Geisha) | British Chef Tom Hines (Chef, Geisha)
In Japan, plenty of customers pair their food with sake drinks. Since only a number Filipinos know their sake, GEISHA Japanese Restaurant has carefully selected a selection of premium grade sake brews that will be readily available in the restaurant. If you are not sure what sake to pair with your dishes, just ask the staffs of Geisha and they will gladly suggest an enjoyable sake for you.
Japanese sake can also be enjoyed in various forms. A variety of sake cocktails such as sakejito, lychee saketini, ginger sake, sakerita and sake sour are served in Geisha.
Lychee Saketini (Php 195)
Sake Sour (Php 195)
Sakerita (Php 195)
Sakejito (Php 230)
Best mojito in town! I had 2 glasses of this!
Habu Sake (Snake Sake)
This is the most premium and most expensive sake in Geisha’s collection.
Unfortunately, it’s not for sale :p
Kampai!!! Below are some of Geisha’s signature dishes paired with high grade sake brews:
Geisha Carpaccio | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
Yellowfin tuna, Norwegian river salmon in olive oil and ponzu
The thinly sliced salmon and tuna were a delight to the palate. If you want to add more texture, eat it with the sliced wanton crisps on the side, but I preferred mine without the crisps and more ponzu sauce. This was a great starter together with the Gekkeikan sake to excite my fondness for Japanese food.
Gekkeikan Traditional Sake
This sake can be served hot, cold or simply at room temperature. It goes well with all kinds of Japanese dishes. Light to medium bodies. Semi-dry. Alcohol content is 14%
I had mine poured over this wooden box. It tasted better when served cold — very smooth without the strong alcohol taste. Geisha serves this premium drink as their house sake. If you are undecided which sake to order, you can never go wrong with Gekkeikan Traditional!
Spicy Tuna Crisps | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
Authentically spiced yellowfin tuna on paper thin crisps
Everyone was raving about this. Mike confessed that this is his personal favorite, too. Eat this in one bite: the whole wanton crisp with spicy tuna chunks and edible flowers on top. The combination of spices and flavors were amazing!!! Don’t you dare remove that edible flower from Europe because it adds a special taste to each bite. I enjoyed my spicy tuna crisp with the Zipang Sparkling Sake, which was like sparkling wine :)
Zipang Sparkling Sake
A naturally carbonated sparkling sake using the Champagne method. Light body, semi-sweet with fresh flavor. Drink chilled. Best as an apertif. Alcohol content is 7%.
Butter Wasabi Oysters | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
Oven baked, served on a bed of salt
I loved it! The bonito flakes, together with the nori strips, gave a twist to this appetizer. It’s all butter, no cheese!!! *still drooling* It was like baked oyster sashimi with a hint of light wasabi. Yes, only a hint of wasabi so don’t be scared in trying this one – it’s not spicy :)
Drizzled with Geisha’s sweet honeyaki sauce
To see is to believe! That prawn was huge! What I appreciated most about Geisha’s Salmon and King Prawn roll is their generous serving. The salmon melts in your mouth and the huge prawn was juicy – you will surely taste the main ingredients in this dish – so good!!!! I also liked the crunchy sesame seeds on top, which gave it some crunch and the honeyaki (honey+teriyaki) sauce was magical – I could eat this and only this all night!
Kurobuta Gyoza | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
Premium grade pork dumplings, miso infused tomato sauce
Kurobuta is the “wagyu” or “kobe” of pork; meaning, it is the HIGHEST GRADE of pork. This is what Geisha puts in their special gyoza, which is a best-seller in their 2 weeks of soft-opening. No, there is no dipping sauce for this. Why? Because the miso infused tomato sauce was way better than any dipping sauce. You’ll be surprised of how good this is, without the strong after-smell of local porks :)
Prawn Tempura | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
I loved how lightly it was battered, without compromising the crispiness of the tempura shell.
Spider Roll | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
Crunchy soft shell crab, kani salad, oborro
I’ve tried plenty of spider rolls in the past and this one’s definitely a winner! It was very tasty and the sushi rice was not dry. The oborro (sweetened fish powder) and the kani salad pushed this roll to its full potential. Yum!!!
Hamachi Sashimi | Sake Pair: Gekkeikan Traditional or Zipang Sparkling Sake
I was so happy to see this on the table! Not just because of the unique lighted bowl of ice, which might be copied by other restaurants, but mainly because, next to TORO, this is my favorite sashimi! Geisha’s hamachi sashimi was so fresh. I ate it without the soy sauce to fully enjoy the flavor :) I loved how it melts in my mouth – hoping they also serve Toro soon :)
Rock Shrimp Tempura Salad | Sake Pair: Nigori Sake
Mesclun, cucumber, creamy sesame dressing
My favorite dressing of all time – creamy sesame dressing – is also served in Geisha. This dressing can go with just about any dish – fried, salad, seafood, meat, etc. You can use it for dipping, as dressing or drizzle your rolls with it. I had this salad with the milky Nigori sake; but, I still liked the Gekkeikan or Zipang more :)
Unfiltered sake using quality premium rice in Kyoto and fushimi’s underground water. This beautifully packaged nigori sake features sweet, milky and mild fruity taste. Best with fruits and salads. Alcohol content is 10%.
Edamame risotto, hajikami
The edamame risotto was surprisingly good. I was never a fan of risottos but I couldn’t have enough of this! The asparagus and spinach mixed together with the cheesy edamame risotto complemented the grilled gindara in every way. Mike said that since gindara is an oily fish, they thought that the risotto would somehow provide some balance and it did! Awesome combination!
Namachozo Draft Sake
Draft (fresh) sake pasteurized shortly for 2 seconds before bottling. Light, mellow, fresh and fruity flavors of banana, red apple and peach. Best with sashimi, tempura and grilled seafoods. 13% alcohol content. Semi-dry, light-bodied.
Grilled Chilean Seabass | Sake Pair: Namachozo Draft Sake
Wakame pesto, aubergine and kyuri salad
The wakame (seaweed) pesto lightly seasoned the smoky grilled seabass. Cooking a seabass is really hard because it’s flaky and it easily breaks into pieces. Geisha’s grilled chilean seabass was cooked perfectly – chewy, juicy and oh so yummy!
Skewered Pork 72 | Sake Pair: Taru Cedar Barreled Sake
Ginger wasabi vinaigrette, gohan, 3 day cooking process
The number signifies the 72 hours of preparation to make this delectable dish. Yes, the process takes 3 days before it becomes ready to be served to the customers. So if you really want to try this, call them up to reserve some for you or you will have to wait 3 more days to have this. It was that good, that tender and that delicious! Best if paired with the taru sake poured over the wooden box.
Taru Cedar Barreled Sake
Cedar barreled sake with semi-sweet taste, woody flavor and medium body. In Japan, this sake is commonly used as traditional ceremony sake. Best with salty flavored dishes. Alcohol content is 15%
U.S. Angus Beef Teppanyaki | Sake Pair: Bizan Gold Shochu
U.S. Prime Ribeye, eggplant shigiyaki, lotus crisps
Watch out when pairing this with the Bizan Shochu. It has 25% alcohol content which slowly heats up your esophagus. But it is crazily good with the beef.
Geisha used the highest grade of U.S. Angus beef in the market. It was so flavorful (exceptionally good), super tender and those natural juice from the fat was just so irresistible to resist. Once you had one, you will keep on popping some more to your mouth.
Let’s dissect this excellent shigiyaki side dish: It has shitake mushrooms, cheese, potato, miso sauce, tofu, and chopped eggplants. My verdict: another winner! I still can’t believe that I couldn’t find any flaw on Geisha’s Japanese food. Everything was just exceptionally great! Geisha is by far my favorite Japanese restaurant in the whole Metro Manila!!!
Bizan Gold Sochu
Shochu made of rice. This is an aged Shochu for over one year in sherry barrels. Smoky, woody with a clean aftertaste. Alcohol content is 25%. This is best with meat, smoked dishes, nuts. Good on the rocks! Recommended to freeze before drinking.
And the dish that we have all been waiting for:
Yes, a dining staff played a gong because this dish deserves a royal announcement :)
Japanese A5 Wagyu Steak | Sake Pair: Horin Super Premium Sake
A5 is the highest grade of Japanese Wagyu and is widely regarded as being among the best tasting in the world. Renowned for its outstanding marbling and tenderness – this beef will literally melt in your mouth.
I didn’t want to touch it yet. I admired it first, looking intently and appreciating the redness of the meat and how the smell tickled my senses. Mike told us that it was barely seasoned with salt and pepper so that we can fully taste the flavor of the meat. And then it was time, time to actually put it in my mouth. Best eaten with eyes closed, I enjoyed the texture in my mouth with the natural juice lingering in my tastebuds — I was in dreamland! Geisha’s wagyu beef is heavenly so make sure this is included in your order when coming here. Kampai to A5 grade wagyu beef!!!
Horin Super Premium Sake
Using premium Yamada Nishiki rice, this super premium sake is slowly fermented at low temperatures to give it a refreshing fruit like and flowery aroma and full-bodied flavor. Enjoy chilled. Alcohol content for this sake is 15%.
Matcha Cheesecake (Green Tea Cheesecake)
This matcha cheesecake was the perfect dessert to cap off the night. It is one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had. The green tea dust gave it the most pleasant aftertaste! You should also try it with the fresh blueberry and sesame brittle. Another unique treat from Geisha!
WHEN IN MANILA, don’t forget to give yourself the chance to experience a modern Japanese dining experience at Geisha.
Geisha, Modern Japanese Restaurant
Upper Ground, C2 Bldg., BGC East Superblock,
7th Ave. corner 29th St.
Bonifacio High Street Central, Taguig City
For reservations: (+63 2) 754-8713; (+63 917) 569-2181
Facebook: Geisha Modern Japanese Cuisine
Geisha’s Menu: Geisha Japanese Restaurant Menu
WhenInManila photos by JoTan23
Japanese Restaurants in the Philippines: Geisha serves Modern Japanese Cuisine in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig