Finding 'legit' sushi in the center of Tex-Mex and BBQ country is a dicey proposition to say the least, so long-running favorite Sushi Geisha is a virtual oasis of fresh, traditional cuisine hidden amongst the longhorn crowd in downtown Austin.
Located in the hipster haven cross streets of Red River and 6th Street, Geisha directly reflects its 'keep Austin weird' locale through its decor. Thus, classic Japanese tapestries and lighting scheme battle for supremacy with a customer-generated graffiti wall lining the entire left side of the dining area (crayons are yours for the asking, should you want to become an eternal part of the 'great wall'). The combination of waterfall ambiance and stick figure 'Iggy was here!' collage only reinforces the restaurant's appeal as uniquely Austin; what else would you expect from an eatery located mere steps from music venue mecca Emo's?
Fortunately, the clashing artistic styles do not apply to the sushi itself, and the Geisha offers forth a fair amount of what you would expect from any Japanese menu worth its fins. Edamame and Gyoza remain the reigning champions of the appetizer world, although the vinegar-dashed, mixed seafood salad Sunomono proves to be a contender for zest and originality. A variety of traditional favorite Tempura is available, including tofu for the veggie hounds, as are cooked entrees such as Salmon Teriyaki and Bulgogi Yaki (marinated, grilled
beef) for the raw-phobic.
Sushi and sashimi are, of course, the true proving grounds. Chef- chosen combination platters are available for the uninitiated or adventurous, providing a tantalizing assortment of seafood ranging in price from $30-$75 depending on the size of your party. For the average experienced sushi-enthusiast, however, taking advantage of Geisha's a la cart rarities is recommended. One would be hard-pressed to find a better Spicy Scallop within the confines of the Lone Start state, and the Albacore (a rarity on even coastal menus) is an absolute must.
Open until the wee hours on weekends to placate the night owl trendsetters of Austin (2 a.m.!) and featuring $1 Sake pours from 8-10 p.m. every Thursday and Friday, Sushi Geisha proves to be Japanese cuisine that proves worth leaving the apartment for.