Down a side street in Kings Cross, next to a closed down chicken shop, is not the place you’d expect to find a modern Asian-fusion restaurant. Nevertheless, despite its inconspicuous exterior Geisha Haus has been drawing a crowd with its quality Japanese-inspired food and themed weeknights.
Geisha Haus makes good use of a small space, creating a bright and contemporary space with light timbers and geometric shapes. On the first Tuesday of every month the space is turned into a cinema with the local film competition Reel Haus while every Thursday the restaurant is home to a burlesque show. Their Head Chef, Rajendra Kumar Tamang boasts a huge resume including Sokyo, Maldives and Flying Fish. With this in mind we were excited to give their menu a try.
We started with the Maguro Hana ($18), made with tuna flowers on tempura rice. The light fish enveloped a creamy spicy mayonnaise that was full of flavour and pairs perfectly with the crispy rice base. Not being huge on raw seafood, I was truly impressed by the standard of freshness of Geisha Haus’ dishes, including this one. Without a big fishy taste, the tuna gave a beautiful balance to the heaviness of the sauce.
To accompany this dish we chose to try out one of Geisha Haus’ signature cocktails. Kawaii Kisses ($22) was a Japanese-style daiquiri with a watermelon and rose twist. Made from Belvedere, Uonuma-Nouin Sake, T2 Just Rose Tea, sugar, fresh watermelon and lime juice this cocktail was sweet and light with a slight tang, encompassing everything I love about the summer. The most exciting part of the drink was the way it was made. Tossed with liquid nitrogen, when poured a light mist spills out of the glass of the icy daiquiri. With a finishing touch of rose petals, this cocktail is the epitome of a pretty summer’s drink. After such a sweet drink, the simple flavours of the Seared Scallop Nigiri ($22) were a perfect follow-up. The flame-seared scallops were served with a creamy Japanese-style mayo which beautifully highlighted the saltiness of the Tobiko topping. The soft scallops were a perfect canvas to add Geisha Haus’ fresh wasabi, ginger and house-made soy sauce. The sweet Irazaki Brûlée cocktail is inspired by the warm and tropical Cape Irazaki which is located at the most south-western point of Japan. Created with in-house honeyed belvedere, chestnut liquor, coconut water, T2 Toasty Nougat Tea and a dash of Frangelico. Once shaken into a foam and coated with sugar, the top is blow-torched into a brûlée and finished with coconut flakes and raw honeycomb. This signature cocktail is definitely one for the honey lovers; it’s very sweet with a nutty aftertaste. Unlike other honey-inspired drinks I’ve tried, this cocktail was in no way heavy. This is mostly thanks to the use of coconut water which adds a refreshing touch.These sweet flavours followed into the Kingfish Carpaccio ($21). The sushimi grade kingfish with char garlic dressing, julienne chilli and micro coriander was tender with sweet Asian flavours and a slight kick. The thinly sliced sushimi, although slightly difficult for me to handle with chopsticks, was smooth and easy to eat. It was easy to see why Haus Cigar was the Chef’s signature dish. The time and effort put into this serving was evident in the beautifully rolled Bric Pastry. As the edible pastry cigar crumbled away, a fresh and citrus tuna tartar interior was revealed. The ingenious malto ash added a slight sweetness to the cigar, while the spicy mayo supplied a delicious kick. Just when I thought Geisha Haus’ food couldn’t get any better, I tried the Miso Cod ($24). To create this dish black cod is marinated for 24 hours in caramelised miso and served on baby cos lettuce with a Japanese salsa. The sweet, silky fish melts in your mouth and is followed by the bite of Asian salsa. This was one of those dishes that surprise you. Although not as visually impressive as dishes such as the Haus Cigar, the quality ingredients and combination of textures and flavours create an elegant balance.
The Gorgeous Geisha ($23) was the perfect drink to wash this all down. This pink beauty is created with Larious 12 gin, Cointreau, T2 Gorgeous Geisha Tea, mixed berry syrup and a dash of rhubarb bitters and served in a brandy balloon with edible wildflowers frozen in an ice sphere. With floral and berry notes, this signature cocktail is perfect for looking for a pretty drink with more maturity. Although the Gorgeous Geisha tastes stronger that the previous drinks, the floral notes lend themselves well to the botanicals of the gin. Aptly named, this cocktail is a geisha in liquid form. The Seared Salmon Roll ($22) tasted how all sushi should. This roll was made with prawn and cucumber topped with flame-seared salmon dressed with creamy ponzu, baby shizo and crispy shallot. What made this roll stand out was its freshness. Having had my fair share of stale sushi in the past, I couldn’t get enough of the salmon roll. There wasn’t one element of the dish that didn’t work, from the salty salmon to the fluffy rice.
Ending our drink selection on a darker note, we tried the Smoking Geisha ($22). Created with mescal tequila, T2 Russian Caravan Tea Punt E. Mes, agave syrup and pomegranate molasses, this shaken cocktail is served frm a cinnamon smoke-filled decanter. The Smoking Geisha was a complex drink with a woody taste. The pomegranate gave a deeper sweetness that wasn’t present in the other drinks. The most surprising element of this cocktail, however, was its texture. After being poured the dark liquid seems to disappear off the tongue leaving a dry and smokey sensation. The Popcorn Prawns ($24) followed suit with a full-bodied flavour. A cultural twist on popcorn chicken, these prawns were very different from anything else on the menu. The soft black tiger prawns were encased in a crispy batter and tossed in a spicy mayo that was full of flavour. Although we were pretty full, it was easy to munch on the small pieces of deliciously tender prawn.
Our dessert was the perfect end to our meals. The Mixed Berry Espuma was made with seasonal berries and southern highland cream made into a foam and served with vanilla anglaise and fresh mint. The sweet berry foam was so light that it melted on the tongue, making the dish a beautifully refreshing treat.
What makes Geisha Haus stand out is not only the high quality ingredients and skill in the kitchen, but also the showmanship with which each dish and drink is presented. From the selection we tried, no dish was boring, no cocktail was without some element of fire, ice or smoke. It’s this kind of innovation that elevates dining at Geisha Haus to a great food experience into a magnificent spectacle of senses. Meanwhile, its involvement with the local community such as hosting Reel Haus separates the restaurant from the pretense that often accompanies fine dining. With its growing popularity I’d recommend booking a reservation if you’re thinking of trying out Geisha Haus’ creations.
Level One, 5-9 Roslyn Street, Potts Point, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 8065 1812