It was pouring heavily and the sushi place we wanted to go in Gion was closed this day. We wanted to have kyoto style sushi but no choice, we have to have something else.
Second option was to have kushiyaki and this place was on our list. Its located along this small alleyway which runs right along the Kamo River. We could have picked any place along this alley way;there were so many restaurants but thought I had to go here. We were sharing a small umbrella, feet were soaking wet, we thought to ourselves it better be worth it.
We finally got there and there were quite a few foreigners in here. We thought uh oh tourist trap. Not really!
We got a nice big table and we also asked them for an english menu just in case.
Here is a page of the menu with the usual kushiyaki goodies.
Alot of “gaijin” eating here. One thing I don’t like about some of these izakayas in Japan are that they let them smoke inside. Should follow most other countries and start banning them from doing that.
There are counter seats or table seats. I think there is also a second floor. Being on this floor means you can see the chefs show off their grilling skills.
Menu was quite extensive. We ended up getting a set and some other things as well.
This was part of the set with some asparagus, eggplant and some other goodies. I’ll just let the picture speak for themselves.
Some giblets, prawns, scallops and other stuff as well.
This was a dumpling with quail egg on top on a hot plate. Served with some soy sauce it was interesting, but not that memorable.
This ochazuke was really good. This has eel in it and IK just gobbled it up. quite refreshing on a rainy day like this.
Ochazuke is pretty much tea and rice with a few pickles. love it.
Some more kushiyaki from the set.
It’s a typical izakaya. busy, lively. We also had some insect roaming around on our table. The girls were staring at it and couldn’t help laughing. They managed to kill it for us so we could keep eating our kushiyaki. Pretty funny indeed.
Their english wasn’t so good but I was fine with my Japanese. But maybe we would have ordered other stuff if we were with a local.
Overall its good to try this stuff in Japan. But nothing memorable really
We went sightseeing all morning and our scheduled time for lunch was at 1:30pm. We were pretty excited to go to a 2 star Michelin restaurant – Roan Kikunoi Kiyamachi. This is not the main restaurant but apparently its just as good. It’s located around the gion district next to a bridge and it was quite easy to find.
The owner of the restaurant is Murata-san who is extremely famous in Japan apparently. the ANA meals on the flight are designed by him apparently.
My friend helped me book this restaurant and we didn’t get confirmed until a few days prior. There must have been a cancellation.
We got there at 1:30pm and there’s 10 kappo style seats and a few tatami seats (2 to be exact) for larger groups.
We were greeted by a lady and were led to our counter seats. We were shown the menu with english and also in Japanese.
Japanese menu here.
Everything seemed meticulous as all Japanese are. We had our drinks and I loved how you can interact with the chefs. Our first course was a sake which i forgot to take with a fragrance of shiso leaf to cleanse our palate.
This was our amuse – Fresh uni Tofu, light soy sauce gel with Wasabi and Wakame Seaweed. I love tofu and this was just perfect. the gel was a little thick and perfect with this type of spoon.
Our next appetizer (hassun) was the Tai and cucumber rolls, brook shrimp, octopus roe, Hamo (pike conger) sushi, ginger, small abalone, salad of fresh wheat gluten and Aouri (melon) with sesame sauce. Wow even the name itself was long. This was amazing as you can see.
All the chefs were working hard.
Next was some sashimi – Tai (red sea bream), Hamo (pike conger), curled cucumber, wasabi, ume sauce. This hamo was amazing. Had some flowers on top as well. You have the hamo with the plum sauce and tai with the soy sauce obviously.
Next was a soup dish. Tougan, shrimp dumpling, kidney bean, kinome herb sauce, ginger. Japanese kaiseki doesn’t usually have heavy flavours. This soup wasn’t salty, it was a little thick and delicious.
Next was using the same fish before, Hamo, cucumber, wakame salad. It must be cucumber season as alot of dishes had cucumber in it.
This was probably the dish of the day for me. Grilled miso-marinated flatfish with yuzu. It was PERFECTLY cooked, had a light flavour of miso and just melted in my mouth. delicious.
Also came with some Rice with Hamo, Japanese pickles and another soup Gobou soup. The chef here was getting the rice out.
The rice was infused with the hamo. The pickles married well to open up your appetite a bit even though the food wasn’t heavy at all.
Lastly we had a Yatsuhashi icrecream, warabi mochi which is quite famous in kyoto. IK loved mochi.
Once we were done, we were given some toothpicks which looked like they were hand cut.
We didn’t finish all the hamo rice and they asked if we would like to have this take away and make some onigiris for us – why not michelin star midnight snack!
It was an amazing choice to come here and I can see why the chef is so famous. His dishes were made to perfection – traditional and well executed. Lunch is cheaper than dinner so it was quite rushed but we didn’t mind that at all.
Tips : Ask your concierge of if you have friend to book for you.
I was highly impressed with our concierge at the Westin Miyako Hotel who helped us book Kinoe Yakiniku which my friend from Japan recommended. She printed out a map, helped make our reservation and made sure there was an english menu etc. This place was fairly close to the hotel, maybe 15 mins by public transport. It was in a residential area in the northern part of kyoto. Here it is.
They had huge barrels of Hakushu whiskys as well. hmmmm
The menu was a bit complicated. On the back of the page, there were some menus which you needed to book before. So we ended up getting 2 sets of Omi Beef and added yukke as well.
Ordered a tap beer to start.
Came with 3 sauces as well. The waiters are pretty good, they tell you which course is for which sauce.
An appetizer course with some beef and fat.
We specially ordered a serve of yukke as it seemed famous on the menu.
Then we were served with some salad with japanese dressing.
I loved the Japanese yakiniku, they don’t stick and they seemed easy to clean. There was no smoke and it filters back in. Started off with 2 pieces of omi beef.
We were a bit worried as we are usually used to huge portions. Here comes another 2 pieces.
Don’t forget some veggies as well. Corn and Zucchini.
This time with garlic chips. See the fat on the left? They used that to oil up the grill and sear this one. Wonderful.
This one is marinated which was also very nice.
Another dish of marinated beef.
Had some lettuce to wrap the beef up as well.
Also some asparagus, tomato and beans with some mayo and miso sauce.
Had to order a Hakushu High Ball which was delicious
This marinated beef he seared it for us and perfected it. Only 10 or so seconds each side and straight away melts in your mouth.
We also had a rice as well as there wasn’t much carbs. Funny enough portions looked small but it was enough for both of us.
Freshened up with some watermelon afterwards and some tea.
Japanese yakiniku was really good. I’m sure there are other places around but this was perfect. I recommend getting the most expensive set as it might not be enough for 2 people. Beef was good and couldn’t really complain. It was expensive but looking at the marbling of the beef, you are just in heaven.
Finally arrived at the hotel after hours of flying. We arrived in Haneda and had a 3 hour layover before going to Osaka Itami airport. We then took a bus to Kyoto station and transferred to the hotel shuttle bus which took us here in about 15 mins.
Westin is a huge hotel which is slightly outdated and in need of a renovation. They wouldn’t let us check in as it was still late morning and told us to come back in the afternoon, but were happy to keep our bags for us.
We went sightseeing and came back in the late afternoon to get checked in. They upgraded us to the Junior Suite to my delight which was thanks to my SPG Platinum Status. I chose a complimentary sake for my platinum amenity as breakfast was included with my status which was a nice gesture.
As with all Japanese hotels, the staff takes you up and explains about the hotel.
We walked in and there was a small room dedicated for luggages, coats and jackets and an ironing board.
The living room of our suite with our welcome drink and snacks.
I actually sore this sake at the convenient store and it was pretty cheap. Maybe 500 starpoints next time!
As with all SPG beds I find them quite consistent and comfortable. It was a large king sized bed.
There were 2 TVs in the suite – I thought the TV was a bit small but hardly watched any TV anyway.
The bathroom was decently sized as well with a separate toilet. They should have a sliding door rather than one that opens as it was a tight squeeze to get in and close the door which I hate.
There was a bathtub and a seperate shower in the room. I’m not sure about wooden doors in bathrooms – seems like it will decay sooner! The shower pressure was good and the bathtub decently sized.
After taking some photos, I decided to check out the Executive lounge as it was complimentary as part of my SPG status. It was also canapes time in the late afternoon. There was a bar with some spirits, coffee and soft drinks. I was asked to go to the second floor as the lounge was packed at the time i went. Upstairs was pretty much the same size and much quieter. However you had to go downstairs to get your drinks.
The views you get were quite nice looking over the mountains and the town.
My favourite beer in Japan. Yebisu Malts.
Came with some canapes which they bring it out to you.
Upstairs also had a small collection of books which you can read. Mostly in Japanese.
Another view of the upstairs lounge.
We did try the breakfast at the lounge one day but found it underwhelming. We actually had 3 choices of where we wanted breakfast, lounge, western and japanese. It was a no brainer to opt for the Japanese option so we went to the restaurant for it.
Located at the Shisan restaurant which was pretty big as well. I doubt it will ever have full capacity here.
There were these couch seats that we opted for.
The decor was nice in here.
I’d imagine breakfast would be similar every day but they change the fish and a few items daily. We came here twice during our stay. The breakfast was amazing. Miso soup, rice, egg, fish, small appetisers, fruits, seaweed, chawanmushi etc. Much better than the terrible sausages and eggs we had prior. I think this breakfast retails at 2500 – 3000 yen so having this twice is worth 6000 yen for both of us.
Tofu and fish. Japanese cook fish so damn well.
Tofu, leek in a broth. Have it with the below sauce as well.
Japanese Pickles are a must with ume, daikon and some other pickles. Goes well with rice. Also had some small white bait
I don’t know what this is, but it was some sticky dish with fish cake or something in it? It was nice nevertheless.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Westin Kyoto. The concierge were super helpful and made a reservation for us as well which I will review next. Each night would have been close to $200-250 AUD which I thought including the breakfast and canapes and a suite upgrade was well worth it.
I did visit the gym which was pretty old. There was a pool and the standard equipment like bike, treadmill and some weights etc. Nothing to rave about.
It is a little far from the main area but you can take a train and walk 2 mins to get to the hotel which is pretty convenient. The Japanese breakfast was amazing and wouldn’t mind staying here as they clearly treat platinum SPG members well. It is also very quiet as its more in a residential area.
I was super excited flying ANA’s business class from Sydney to Tokyo. After lounging a while at the New Zealand lounge, it was time to board. We couldn’t get 2 seats together when i checked in online but was able to when we checked in at the desk. We were sitting first 2 seats in business class which is in a staggered configuration 1 – 2 – 1.
One reason why we chose ANA was because it goes straight to Haneda which is easier to transfer flights domestically and it is also significantly closer to the city as well. I used Lifemiles and United miles to purchase these tickets.
The seat itself is quite comfy and has plenty of table space around you. There is also quite alot of space in front of you where you can dump your blankets etc. When we arrived, there was our amenity kit by L’occataine, slippers, blankets and a headset which was quite poor quality. I ended up using my own BOSE headphones.
Typical plane remote, USB and AC socket and lights.
Another view of the ANA business class seat.
I didn’t think the Loccatine set was that good. Looked cheap bu came with the bare essentials as pictured below.
Typical flat seats and the controls, also includes lumbar support which is great!
The screen was really good i thought. It was right in front of you and was i reckon 20 inches
I like how japanese airlines gives an explanation of the seat itself. I think it is always nice if you don’t fly that airline all the time.
I started off with a champagne which was Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie Brut from France
There was also a selection of Japanese Sake, Shochu and plum wine. They served Hibiki 17 years as well and one comment i had to make was that the airline attendants probably don’t drink. I asked for Whisky neat and gave me like 4 finger shot! Well no complaints there! Slept well after that for sure.
So the menu had a dinner then light dishes which you can order any time. I thought they really should have breakfast as well included for this red-eye flight. 2 choices. Japanese or western.
This was the champagne served in this sort of glass.
Here comes my Japanese Dinner which looked better in the menu. Just wasn’t at the standard to JAL flight which I will review later.
IK had the western option as they have run out of the Japanese meals! Despite us being the first ones to order it too. I’d imagine they chose her as she would probably didn’t care compared to the other Japanese passengers. IK said it wasn’t that good.
One thing which was good about the ANA flight was the live sport and it so happened to be the Euro 2016 as well so i was able to see Albania play Switzerland.
IK ordered some ice-cream after her disappointing meal.
I was eyeing on the snack menu and the Ippudo Ramen sounded so appetising i had to order it. It looked and tasted amazing for ramen being served in the air.
In the toilet, there were also some spare toothbrushes, masks, face&body sheet (wipes i’d imagine) which was nice.
I couldn’t eat in the morning, probably slept about 5 hours which was amazing so just had some tea and fruit which was perfectly nice.
Overall, I thought the seat and perfectly fine but in terms of privacy i don’t think it is as good as the herringbone configuration or other carriers who now have like a mini suite i.e. JAL Business Class. The flight attendants were young but seemed a bit inexperienced overall. e.g. running out of Japanese food option when we ordered first. I couldn’t complain about the four shot whisky being served to be (literally half a glass).
I wouldn’t mind flying with them again but if I had to choose, I think JAL is a bit more experienced and service was just a bit better.
More reviews coming up in particular Roan Kikunoi in Kyoto!
JAL First Class Lounge Review & Cathay Business & First Class Lounge Review
First Class JAL Tokyo Haneda to San Francisco
Going to Japan and US this trip and thought of getting to Haneda instead of Tokyo this time round. Looking at availability few months back, ANA had some seats so I used Avianca miles and United Miles to purchase these seats. We had to fly up to Sydney to catch this flight and had about 9 hours lay over so we went to down to get something to eat.
Once we were in, we had some to get tax back on some items which always takes 30+ minutes. We then went to the AMEX lounge. I didn’t take any pictures as I was a bit disappointed with the lounge with the food and drinks. I mean if I didn’t have lounge access, I would have went in there. The best part was the shower where they use sky team’s shower downstairs which had great pressure. They no longer had cocktails to offer and just ordinary spirits. The best bit was fresh fruit.
Since it was pretty disappointing, we went off to the Air New Zealand lounge which was fairly new which is located near gate 54+ alongside Singapore Airlines Lounge. We wanted to go to Singapore lounge as well but it was closed and there were probably no more flights running at that time at night. boo.
First impressions were that it is much much bigger than the Melbourne lounge when we flew with Etihad. Probably 10 x as big.There were plenty of seating and dining area.
Good buffet spread compared to AMEX lounge. There was also a long bar where you can order tap beer and basic spirits.
Also has a kids play area which is nice when you got noisy children.
Includes hot, cold dishes, salads, fruits, desserts etc.
We sat in these chairs which had an ottoman and you could recline.
You also get good Tarmac views of our plane. Love the blue.
There were also showers which i didn’t take pictures of as I already had one in the AMEX lounge. Overall, quite a spacious lounge to lounge around and have decent food. I’d think twice going back to the AMEX lounge as it was fairly disappointing even though it was free for me as we both had bank AMEX cards which allowed 2 entries per year.