Haute Dining: One-on-One with Geisha House’s General Manager Travis Eichensehr

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In a neighborhood where a venue is fortunate to survive for one year and heroic to prevail for two years, Hollywood’s Geisha House has boldly claimed the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Cherokee Avenue for more than seven years. Known for its vivid Japanese pop art décor, high-end clientele, and lively scene, Geisha House been a staple for those seeking delicious traditional Japanese dishes with modern twists and exceptionally exquisite sakes, wines and cocktails.

This past Sunday evening I sauntered over to the restaurant/lounge to meet with its longtime General Manager Travis Eichensehr (pictured below). Stepping through the candy apple red doors, I immediately noticed how much more subdued the vibe was that night than on any given Friday and Saturday night. This time there was no live DJ spinning the latest lounge hits or endless packs of friends squeezing into the booths and tables scattered throughout the main dining area and upstairs. Instead, only a peacefully quiet, jovial energy pulsated throughout the restaurant.

Travis greeted me with a powerful handshake and a friendly, open smile. His towering height and sturdy build gave him somewhat of an intimidating presence, but his cheery disposition and twinkling eyes immediately made him approachable and easy to talk with. And that was a good thing, because there was plenty to talk about: I wanted to get the firsthand scoop of what Geisha House had in store for us for the upcoming spring season.

“It’s all about what’s available at the time and what’s the best quality,” Travis jumped right in. “Over the weekend we featured the Chilean sea bass in a creamy cucumber sauce, but only because it’s in season and the quality was to our liking. We don’t have it on the menu all the time.”

“We also currently have Singha Beer as our primary beer,” he continued. “So we have these Singha short ribs on the menu where we actually make the ribs with the beer. And of course our crab legs are one of our signatures, but again, because of the quality we use, it’s seasonal.”

The Maguro Mango (pictured below), available throughout the year, is also a refreshing appetizer that’s perfect for the spring. The coolness of the thinly slices of rolled tuna is accentuated by the freshly chopped cubes of mango and faintly sweet mango chile sauce. It’s delicious to share and a great choice to start off dinner.

All this discussion about food made me parched. So what’s the best thirst quencher in this warm weather?

“Sakes offer products that are in conjunction with the season,” Travis informed me. “They’re sweet and light and flavored, and they’re sparkling because there’s an active yeast that’s still inside of it. The Star Rabbit is blueberry flavored and the Hou Hou Shu is just sparkling. Both come seasonally – I don’t start getting sparkling sakes until after wintertime.”

The bar also will feature different ingredients and alcohols throughout the year. “We used basil in a few that were in the winter, but I took those off,” Travis said. “We did a promotion with Absolut Wild Tea over the weekend and some drinks are so popular that they end up staying on the menu. For example, our most popular drink is the Geisha Kiss (pictured below). It’s sake-based with lychee, Chambord and champagne on top. We make a lot of those.”

The Geisha Whisper is definitely a springtime favorite not to be missed as well. This icy blend of cucumbers, blueberries and the açaí spirit Veev with hints of lime juice and soda is coolly refreshing. It’s irresistibly sweet and certainly potent.

But Travis is quick to note that no season alone should dictate which beverage should end up in your hands; there are so many other factors to consider during your visit as well. “You have to read everything – the time of day, the occasion,” he explained. “You have to really feel what they’re trying to accomplish. You’re not going to push shots of tequila on 50-year-old ladies normally, but a 21st birthday? That’s a different story. Or if it’s a younger person and they have a sit down with sashimi, and it’s a girl maybe I’ll bring a Geisha Kiss. If it’s a guy, then maybe sake. If they’re a little older, maybe I’ll bring a glass of champagne. We have a Sommelier who works here and our servers alike will approach the table and find out what guests are having for the evening, find out a little bit about them and then based on that information, suggest a cocktail to match.”

So just when you thought you had seen, tasted and drank everything that Geisha House has to offer, it looks like you’ll need to make a visit here in the upcoming months.

“I think we’re successful because of the quality and consistency of our menu for over seven years,” Travis concluded. “Our friendly attitude and vibe, and just the energy of what we have. But the one main reason why we’re successful? It’s because of our customers and our guests and that energy I talked about that they bring.”

Geisha House is located at 6633 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, 90028, 323.460.6300; www.dolcegroup.com.

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