1234 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Where did the Thirsty Pig go?
The Geisha is a Japanese themed restaurant with a dance club and bar lounge in a multilevel space. Situated in the heart of the French Concession of Shanghai 上海法租界, Geisha is the latest place to go for dining and dining. The Geisha, which opened toward the end of the Summer of 2011, is part of the Collective Concepts group, that brought The Apartment and Food Central to Shanghai.
I like the design and space of The Geisha. The dark lighting and red accents gives puts you immediately in the mood. The first floor restaurant features a sushi bar. The 2nd floor is the nightclub with couches and dance floor. I like tables with the built-in ice bucket, basically a hole in table for the bottles and ice. The center of the dance floor includes a raised bathtub for the go-go dancers. You can’t help but be drawn to the bathtub, even without a dancer. The third floor lounge, is my favorite, with a nice large outdoor deck. Unfortunately, you could probably only use this deck a few months out of the year, not during the sweltering summers and bitter winters.
What did the Thirsty Pig eat?
Our group started off with some of their signature cocktails. I liked how they are creative with their concoctions with infused vodkas. Nowadays, Shanghai bars and lounges need an edge with special and exclusive drinks. The Republic of Earth was pretty good, but not cheap at 65 RMB. The California in me, also liked the different rolls. I wasn’t really looking for a true Japanese experience with sashimi or sushi, so rolls, almost anytime, are fine with me. Cool names and nice combinations. Aside from the rolls, I didn’t care much for the mains. But I won’t get into that much.
The Geisha is a cool venue. But for dining, I wouldn’t necessarily go. I would just go prior for some light snacks or munching with drinks. The night club is cool, as well as the lounge.
Here is New Year’s Eve diner menu.
What to Order: I liked the Lucky Seven and Ho Chi Min’s Horse
What not to Order: Didn’t care much for the Yellow Tail Carpaccio or the Blue Fin Tuna, Foie Gras Torchon On a Spoon or the Sweet Soy Braised Chicken
Price Range 3 $/¥/NT
390 Shanxi Nan Lu, Fuxing Lu
+86 21 6403 0244
Itsuki is an all you can eat Japanese Teppanyaki/BBQ restaurant. Located in the Donghu hotel, they have a pretty good deal for 150 RMB, which also includes all you can drink (alcohol included). For beef lovers, this place features a pretty quality of meat. I’ve had some forgettable all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants, but Itsuki, which comes highly recommended, is actually not bad.
Located in the foreign infested area of the French concession with Bar 88, Dakota’s, Monkey Lounge, Cantina Agave, Craft, and other eateries, Itsuki is hidden inside the Donghu Hotel. The restaurant itself has seen better days, probably when the hotel first opened. Now it survives on the gimmick of the All You Can Eat Japanese concept. I would venture to say that you wouldn’t find many of these Japanese BBQ’s on the top of many lists or have high ratings from Michelin reviewers or guides. Yet, seemingly on the bottom of this food chain, it does exist.
Surprisingly, Itsuki, does have some pretty good quality meat. The manager must have found it in his heart or the pride, to select good cuts of beef. The clientale, mostly local Shanghainese, with nary of foreigner or Japanese in sight, must taken a liking to this place. Outside of hotel guests, I’d surmise that most of the customers are repeat ones or daring Dianping followers (with Itsuki garnering 3.5 stars). Yet, after the beef, I wouldn’t hardly recommend anything else – the kimchi pancake was horrendous and the soup was bland. Surprisingly, the Korean soup was flavorful. This leads me to my never-ending question – why does a supposedly Japanese BBQ (AYCE) have kimchi, kimchi pancake, kimchi fried rice, and spicy (Korean-Style) soup? Is it because it is Korean owned – as other joints I’ve been to in the US are). Do the Japanese really have spicy pickled cabbage – not likely, since Japanese don’t really eat with their tummies. But I am lead to believe, and wouldn’t be that surprised – that these restaurants are truly Korean owned, yet, the Japanese angle with the master prep and use of beef is more of a marketing ploy.
Regardless . . . Itsuki is a place I would return to. I would also recommend as well. The one thing I do hate though, is the lack of ventilation with the oily smoke hovering around us and our clothes.
What to Order: Beef
What not to Order: Kimchi Pancake
Price Range 1 $/¥/NT
After reading the reaming that City Weekend gave by Dan Ouyang wrote and Christopher St Cavish of SmartShanghai.com, I realize, perhaps I should rethink what I was going to say. I’m usually a pushover when it comes to Yakitori.
Though I am not a expert on Yakitori, I do know what skewers I like. I don’t necessarily go for the chicken heart, liver, or weird parts first. With my traditional Western sensibilities, I go for simple things like quail eggs, chicken meat balls, and chicken wings. But tonight, with the 6 of us, we order all types – from the thick beef tongue, to juicy sausage, to the standard hamachi collar, and to the simple scallops. Tonight was a mixed bag of review – some was good, some wasn’t, but overall, I think it was a good experience.
Nanbantei of Tokyo is an international chain of yakitori restaurants, with locations in Hong Kong, Singapore, and now Shanghai. Based out of their flagship restaurant in Roppongi, Japan, Nanbantei has a history of going back over 40 years.
Let’s start with what I enjoyed. I liked the chicken wings, the chicken balls, and the Hamachi collar. The wings were large, plump, and tasty. The balls were expected as savory (chicken) balls are. The hamachi collar was very good, but a little on the dry side. Then there was this miso leaf grilled pork skewer thing – it just had a funny taste. I made the mistake of ordering 3 skewers – with 3 pieces on each. . .I think less than a skewer was touched at all.
Then there were some things that we could have done without. The thick beef tongue was absolutely gross. I know, based on my friend’s word, that the beef tongue is presented this way, since it is grilled. I’m used to the delicate slices that we DIY grill yourself – sort of like the Korean BBQ’s. Then there was the cheese. . . it was practically on some many skewers, that I thought i was in a pizza joint. I know the unique and novelty of nature of cheese in Japanese and Asian culture. But why does it have to be this way. yes, I know I can cast my “vote” by not ordering or eating it – but I had to try it. Anyways. . .Cheese . . .not a fan with Japanese food.
Perhaps it is because of the diverse foreign crowd in Shanghai, that diners can be a little more picky than usual. The two previous reviews reflect palettes that were developed outside of Shanghai and China – as is mine. Understandably, Shanghai’rs demand quality meals from these establishments. Yet, I can see why they, as well as myself, would be disappointed from such as well-known chain. Anyways. . .its cool place in a great location – but the food, as I agree with the two guys, left a lot to be desired.
What to Order: hamachi collar and chicken wings
What not to Order: Pork, Beef tongue, and anything with cheese
Price Range 2 $/¥/NT
Nanbantai of Tokyo, Shanghai
1 Yueyang Road, Shanghai
+86 21 64375651