Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 17th
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Making a Splash

dining_geishasushiThe county is abuzz about Geisha's unique commitment to sustainable sushi in Capitola

Geisha Japanese Restaurant and Tea Room features creative combinations of textures and flavors in its makimono as well as a nice selection of teas. And what’s unique is the restaurant's mission to support sustainable fisheries. Unlike most sushi eateries, there is no unagi (freshwater eel), or Tako (octopus) on the menu.

The goals of sustainability include fishing practices that avoid ecosystem damage, maintain or improve target species' populations, and eschew harm of non-target species. Geisha has taken on this difficult pursuit in a complex, global industry which necessitates special relationships with fishmongers.

The restaurant's interior is very pleasant, with walls of soothing cherry blossom pink, rich lavender, and white with black accents—and neutral matte-finished wood floors. We took our time in this sanctuary reading the lengthy menu while sipping regular and sweet Thai iced teas ($2.50 /$3). Lunch entrées ($6.50 to $9.50) with miso soup and organic salad ranged from noodles and rice bowls to wild Alaskan salmon teriyaki.

From a list of 15 hot appetizers ($3 to $9.50), we enjoyed the extraordinarily delicious Baked Seafood Creme ($8.50). Sweet shrimp with scallops, mussels and crab were broiled in thin miso sauce and topped with green onions and tiny orange masago (capelin roe).

For our leisurely lunch we finally settled on three makimono rolls, all resting in a puddle of sweet tsuke glaze. Fire Goddess ($12) featured creamy scallops rolled with green onion and shiso, an herb of the mint family with a raw, earthy flavor. It wasdining_geishaseafood topped with pink arctic char and micro-thin slices of lemon. It did seem to be missing its spicy mayo, but the wasabi-spiked tobiko topping was pleasantly prickly.

Thailander ($7.50) featured the crunchiness of tempura prawns, the sweetness of o-nagi (marinated catfish) and peanut butter, and the heat of togarashi, the Japanese seven-spice mixture.

A light coating of crisp tempura batter encased thin stalks of asparagus in the Uptown Tony ($7.50) along with more sweet catfish, walnuts, Thai basil, roasted red peppers and the bite of fresh garlic.

If you are interested in learning more about sushi ingredients, an informative source is which has information on ingredients such as masago capelin roe (Icelandic is the best) and the flying fish roe tobiko.

Geisha Japanese Restaurant and Tea House, 200 Monterey Ave. upstairs, Capitola, 464-3328. Open Sunday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., and Friday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.


The adults-only California Beer Festival is coming to Aptos Village Park on Saturday July 16. With a dual goal of promoting craft brewing and contributing to scholarships for county student-athletes through the Gen Giammanco Foundation, the event is destined to sell out.

Live music, tastings of 40 craft beers including those of four county brewers, and bocci ball await attendees with a $40 ticket. Food from local restaurants will also be available. Taps will pour between 1 and 4:45 p.m.

California Beer Festival, Saturday July 16, Aptos Village Park, 12:30 until 5 p.m. $40 per adult; Must be over 21 with a valid ID. For tickets, rules and more information, visit

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