Getting Ripped Off By Bland Food at Geisha House

I've eaten at restaurants where the bill came to more than $300 for two (the late, great Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel). Where the buffet cost $100 for two (Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel again). Over $100 for omakase for one (Hanamori). Many other places too expensive and too superfluous to remember. But never have I gasped at the final bill until visiting Geisha House in SanTana.

Of course I wasn't expecting much, especially considering the idiocy that is their valet service and the fact Ashton Kutcher funds other Geisha House locations in Los Angeles and Atlanta. Geisha House is built for...I'm not sure. Definitely not the SanTana hipsters who flock to Lola Gaspar. Certainly not the middle-aged folks from nearby Floral Park and Park Santiago seeking a quiet meal. But no one who likes good food should step within 50 feet of this place, as they are as likely to find it here as the folks who bought lofts at the hosting City Place development have of getting a refund on their hyperinflated purchase from evil developer Robert Bisno.

My chica and I ate at lunch, when the number of servers outnumbered customers. We asked our friendly waiter how he was doing. "Bored," he replied with a smile--a prophet of the palate.

What arrived ranged from boring to bland to blah to


. The spicy tuna topped with a sliver of Serrano, which the waiter swore was spicy? Wasn't--even my chica, who sweats after a drop of Tabasco, laughed at the roll's vanilla vibe. The cutesy names like Marilyn Monroll? Hah. Eggplant prepared with a cheese and sweet sauce and chopped into slices was rubbery; another sushi roll with melted cream cheese vile (cream cheese only works on sushi when presented chilled, the better to let its cool sweetness play against fish and rice; melted, you have a Japanese-style quesadilla that looks like pigeon droppings). And too much teriyaki sauce on the bonito peppers transformed what's supposed to please as a salty, spicy snack into a stick, sweet disappointment.

The sushi list tellingly doesn't list prices, the better to trick you into ordering more under the impression it's as affordable as Ami Sushi or even Kappo Suzumaru. I enjoyed the wontons with sweet cream (tasted like crème brulee), but five measly wontons for eight bucks? Shit, I could fund many more sweet cravings with that amount by haunting a Hostess outlet. The lighting was non-existent, the design painfully forced--ooh, look at all the prints of geishas on the walls! And the tripled-layered (WTF?) fireplace at the center! And the huge pictures of harajuku girls decked out in their creepy Lolita glory on the walls and outside! Only the drinks impressed, but you can get the same sake at Marukai in bigger quantities.

Total price for three drinks, three rolls, two appetizers and dessert? About $120. The biggest waste of cash for me since buying some eco-friendly drain un-clogger that did nada.

I hope Geisha House doesn't succeed, not because I wish ill on those who work here (may God be doing a Job on them at this point in their lives), but to teach Don Papi Pulido a lesson. It's no secret that SanTana's mayor and his cronies want more non-Mexican development in town, but their idea of cutting-edge is bringing in mainstream restaurants like Geisha House and McCormick and Schmidt's, places that belong in tourist traps like Huntington Beach and Anaheim. SanTana deserves better, deserves mom-and-pops and local entrepreneurs to invest in the town rather than some MILF-banging dope who can pull up camp at any moment. Want the club experience with your sushi? Order to-go at Ami, and take it outside at the Crosby--the guys won't mind.

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