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 blech. 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

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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