Like its namesake, Japanese restaurant Geisha exudes an air of sophistication and exclusivity. However the small, elegantly presented dishes and excellent wines are surprisingly affordable.
Restaurant Geisha opened in late 2009 with barely a whisper, in a modest building on Prins Hendrikkade. A tiny sign hanging above the door is the only indication that this isn't just another house on a mainly residential street.
Inside, a Zen-like haven of subdued lighting and muted colours, broken only by a mural of pink cherry blossoms, awaits.
Geisha’s menu is best described as pan-Asian rather than exclusively Japanese, and is divided into food types: dim sum, sushi, meat, fish and vegetarian, rather than starters and mains. The idea is to order a selection of appetiser-sized dishes for yourself or to share with the table.
I flitted excitedly around the menu like a child in a sweet shop, eventually settling on sea bass fried in bonito fish flakes; dim sum with dipping sauces of varying spiciness; a mixed sushi platter; succulent beef satay with light Malaysian peanut sauce; New Zealand rack of lamb wok-fried with black pepper; pearls of the sea – shrimps, scallops and monkfish fried quickly on a high heat and presented heaped in rice cracker ‘baskets’; and a vegetarian dish of tofu and mixed vegetables served in a shallow bowl with a long, vertical handle, rather like a large ladle.
These were accompanied by side dishes of seasonal Chinese greens, rice and thick fried noodles redolent of smoky oyster sauce.
The grand dessert offered a taste of all the desserts on the menu: mango bavarois topped with a tangle of spun sugar, chestnut crème brûlée, unusual black sesame ice cream, and - the icing on this already very sweet cake - a gorgeously rich chocolate tart with a warm, gooey centre.
Behind the restaurant is a bar and lounge. Here too, it is obvious that money has been spent on the interior. We sank into the deep suede sofas – dangerously well suited to hours of after-dinner slothfulness - which are grouped around amber bamboo tables.
In keeping with the Japanese theme, the drinks list features a few types of sake, including a smooth, chilled Junmai Mimasaka Gozenshu, but is mostly made up of Old World and New World wines.
Everything at Geisha works, from the elegant, paired-back presentation and delicate flavour combinations, to the carefully selected wines and impeccable service.
Geisha has glided effortlessly into my top five of new Amsterdam restaurants. Judging by the full tables when we left, many other diners are as enchanted by this refined lady of the night as I am.
Telephone: 020 626 2410
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