Mel to Abu Dhabi 777 First Class

This trip I booked in April had some twists and turns. I’m pretty excited we’re able to get some seats on one of the big 3 middle eastern carriers. Well sitting first in any carrier is good.

I used 90k AA points to fly the first league in first class (14 hour trip) and business to Paris. I guess for around 2k when i bought these points as dividend miles was quite worth. I orginally booked business class for the 2 trips but first availability popped up and I couldn’t not take that chance. I wanted to try the A380 but no real availability.  The beauty about etihad is they have a complimentary chauffeur service with business / first class passengers. So I booked a car and it was smack on time. Doraemon-san had a flight to catch to Sydney so he came along well. Poor Chauffeur company I called the night before to confirm my booking and they said it wasn’t there! anyway Etihad ended up calling the chauffeur company and sorted it out. etihad will happily drive you from up to 80km away!

Our car to the airport.

Came a Holden which was spacious inside and had lot of grunt. The driver seemed to be in a rush, sped most of the way! Hope he doesn’t get a speeding ticket.

our Driver holding up my name
From the inside.

We got to the airport quite quickly and checked in at the counter. It took a while as they had issues getting our baggage to CDG and i was frantically trying to get better seats to Paris.

Etihad Check in Counter

First time flying out overseas on a very different carrier felt a bit weird. Unfortuntely, etihad doesn’t have their own lounge in MEL and they codeshare it with the KORU lounge. There’s also no AMEX lounge in MEL so there was no real choice and their United lounge has closed so I can’t even used my Priority pass. The Koru lounge was pretty ordinary. I felt the Qantas domestic lounge was better than this. Its a round shape lounge with a business centre, kids area, buffet, alcoholic drinks and some view of the tarmac but couldn’t see much when we were there. Food was pretty horrible and I knew I was going to have a good meal on etihad anyway so didn’t eat much and just had a few drinks.

Air NZ Koru Lounge
Business Centre
Kids Area
Koru Lounge had communal tables and various seating around

As mentioned, the food selection was poor. Aweful for an international lounge.

The Food selection
NZ lounge Food spread
And more
Fridge with New Zealand wines/beers etc.

So ended up having some cheese and crackers, curry and horrible rice.


They did have some showers which was decent enough. I’m not sure how often people have a shower here and if they tend to clean up often as well.


NZ lounge shower

Boarding was about 40 mins before take off which was good as we could spend longer in first class.

Emirates flight next to our Etihad 777
Seemed like there was alot of people around
Here is our beast

We were the ONLY ones in first class today and pretty much had 2 people looking after us. The flight attendant Anna and Alesandro the on board chef. Yes can’t believe we get our own chef in first class. We were settled in the middle seats in the front. The seats are huge and had its own sliding doors for privacy. They aren’t that high so flight attendants walking by can see what you’re up to. We had our own mini bar which i wasn’t too fazed as it’s far too warm for sparking water and you have a anytime menu anyway. There’s a partitions if you want more privacy or if you don’t know the person next to you. The seats probably aint as comfy as Cathay first class seats but it’s still quite nice.

IK in her throne
Pecky in first class!

Our TV was humongous.

Etihad 777 First Class TV- HUGE

All suites are enclosed so you can have ultimate privacy. If travelling alone, the side seats are the way to go. You get to have 3 windows as well.

First Class Enclosed Suite

Its a lovely product indeed.

more views of Etihad 777 First Class

Probably not as wide as the Cathay Seat but ample. Its leather and its really nice.

The Seat itself

A touch screen to recline the seat/make a bed etc. and noise cancellation headphones which i found to be pretty poor quality. 2 sets didn’t work properly so I used my BOSE ones instead.

Cancellation headphones and touch screen controls for the seat.

Lift up the lid and you have all your other controls for the TV, power, USB, Ethernet etc.

TV controls etc.

Anna offered me a drink to start. Of course you can’t go astray with a class of champagne. La Grande Annes Bollinger 2005 Brut. This was a nice champagne and is around over $100 AUD per bottle. Dan murphys is selling the 2004 for $210!

A very nice Champagne.

IK had the Duval Leroy Rose, France, NV which retails under $50 AUD a pop. Much cheaper!

IKs Rose
Anna holding the bottle

Came with some dates and some arabic Coffee

Nice tray to present the little goodies.

Here is the mini bar which is room temp. I don’t see the point of this. Emirates do have a nice mini bar and maybe they need to make it cold.

Etihad mini Bar

Etihad does a nice A LA CARTE menu and the any time menu so you can have the meal whenever you like. Alesandro recommended the King Prawns and the tenderloin special.

Etihad menu
Etihad Menu
Drinks list
And more wines
Menu and ALL day menu

I had the A LA CARTE menu and pretty much skipped the All day Dine menu as i was stuffed.

Food Menu
First Class Menus

Amenity kit included Bergamot goodies, pyjamas and slippers.

Etihad Amenity kit

Ceiling looked like it was looking through. You’ll see in a minute why this is a cool thing

Etihad Ceiling

Anna pouring Arabic coffee

Arabic Coffee

GOLD blanket and pyjamas which i thought was very comfortable.

Pyjamas and blanket

Etihad Amenity kit was nice.

Amnity kit
Arabic Dates
My second glass of champagne

Little welcoming letter signed by the cabin manager which I felt wasn’t that attentive. Didn’t really serve us but did say initially, ” please let me know if you require anything. i mean anything at all.” and also asked if we wanted to buy duty free which we were not interested at all.

Welcoming letter

There a little coat closet for maybe one THIN coat. It was very narrow. Also had a mirror which i thought was nice.

Coat Closet

The E-BOX was amazing but i would like them to have more newer movies. The best thing about this was there was LIVE TV. I was watching Man Utd getting frustrated by Newcastle at 30000 feet. Pretty damn good.

Doraemon-san’s favourite

It’s going to be a 14 hour flight!

Flight show

Theres also a forward/Back and landscape camera

Camera Views

Just wanted to show you some bling on these partitions.

Enclosed suite bling doors

Chef Alejandro. Very Attentive chef and even made our bed!

Etihad Chef taking menu orders

It’s time to get changed!

Close up of the leather
Time to get changed!

Cathay now has bose headphones in first and they are the gold standard. these were pretty average.

noise cancellation headphones

They came around with some mags. Thought I might find ideas to be a billionaire.


Here comes a starter. I totally forgot what it was but it was some fish i think but beautifully presented.


Some bread and olive oil and butter.


Checked out what they used. NIKKO fine bone china which i think is pretty famous.

NIKKO fine bone china

Table set. I thought Anna did a brilliant job. Everything was immaculate. Up to the standards to pecky.

Table all set.

I asked the chef which wines I should have. He recommended the Shiraz.


From Margaret River, pretty cheap wine actually 21 bucks from Dan Murphys. Pretty good though.

IK’s table all set up

The mini touch screen can massage different areas, control the partition that goes up, make it into a bed etc.

Mini Touch Screen

Came some take off drinks and some appetisers. IK had some dried wasabi nuts which she was intrigued about as you can see.

IK’s wasabi nuts

Had a Mojito for take off, vege chips, olives and nuts. The drinks were tall and done well.

Mojito and small snacks.

Up in the air.


Bit of a palate Cleanser. Like a raspberry sorbet.

Rasberry Sorbet palate cleanser

The King Prawns were really good. A little salad in a interesting bowl with some renkon. Prawns were a little spicy but delicious.

Chilli Crusted King Prawns

IK had the mezze as I wanted to try some of it out as well .I preferred they had 4 or 5 small bowls to put each one.


I thought it was free for first class passengers but I asked the chef and said it wasn’t true. So I decided to buy a flight pass for $21.95 USD as it lasts 24 hours and can be used on our next connecting flight. It was pretty quick and consistent.

Etihad Wifi

IK wanted to have the Tiramisu


Also made a mess due to the turbulence.

IK’s mess

IK had a fish special. She said it was pretty good.

Fish special with broccolini

My tenderloin was good with brocollini. I asked for medium rare and they delivered medium rare. On Cathay I asked for medium rare they gave me over cooked meat.

Tenderloin special

I pretty much skipped the any time menu until the morning as I was absolutely knackered after a busy week. Alejandro asked if he could make the bed behind where we were sitting which i thought was nice. It was comfortable enough with a mattress, blanket as well. But I thought the Cathay bed was much nicer. However its a nice touch to see stars to sleep.

Sleeping flat at 30k feet

here is the bed made, with a bottle of water during the night.

Bed made at 30000 feet

Starry starry night. Nice touch.

Stars on the 777 etihad

Felt like a wake up fruit latter and a mocktail to wake me up.

Fruit Platter

The partition can go up and it is very private if you don’t know your neighbour. Unlikely though.


Had a tea in the morning with some baklava.

Mint Tea before landing.

Didn’t really have breakfast as i was so full but the flight attendant said would you like to try some pancakes the chef has made? So had a banana pancake with jam. Then we had some crossiants and another mocktail.

DSCF4119 DSCF4118 DSCF4117



Landing at Abu Dhabi Airport
Man city plane!
Virgin plane








The landing was pretty smooth, but the taxi was unbelievably long. maybe 20 mins just to get to a remote stand!

One Mile at a Time mentioned you may get BMW chauffeur service to the terminal but that didn’t happen either. Big let down.

Sorry I’ve ran out of space on my wordpress. I’ll have to consider getting hosting now. Theres a couple more pics but it might be a while so i’ll end it here for now.

Bottom Line

  • NZ lounge was disappointing. Not worth going.
  • Loved the seat, the food and the onboard chef was superb. Perfect for pecky. Anna was lovely but we both thought there was some cultural issues in which female served the female and the male served the male.
  • Had the first class cabin all to ourselves
  • Thought service lacked at times pressed the bell once and took a while before they came. Didn’t think the in flight manager was attentive esp to their first class passengers.
  • Business class passengers shouldn’t be allowed to walk up and down the aisle in first class and use the toilet.

Would I go back on Etihad again?

  • Most likely. I’ll definitely want to try to dreamliner and the A380 first class for sure.

Rating – 15/20

Sheraton on the Park Review – Sydney

Quick review of this trip when I went up to rainy Sydney during easter. I had to spend a night at a SPG property to enable me to attain GOLD membership which is unbelievable. This was from the world mastercard credit card deal from Westpac Altitude which I have – you stay one night and you get gold. You would otherwise need to stay 10 times at a SPG property or after 25 friggin nights!

Gold SPG benefits

  • 3 starpoints per US dollar
  • 4pm late check out
  • An upgrade to an enhanced room at check in
  • welcome gift – starpoints, free internet or a beverage
  • Read more here about other benefits

During easter the prices of the hotels were expensive on the saturday night as usual, so we stayed at various locations during our 3 night stay. First night we stayed here at the Sheraton but just on a normal room. The second night we stayed at the rydges world square and 3rd night we came back.

I didn’t think my gold status would be approved and changed over that quickly and was very surprised when i checked in on the 3rd night and the receptionist was checking us in, asking us when we stayed here last etc. I told him, it was for business and I stayed here just 2 days ago. He finished up with me and said, BTW i’ve upgraded you to our executive suite. I didn’t think much of it thinking its just a better view of the room we stayed the other night.

On checkout, we had this rich couple, the lady wearing pink mink and just had plastic all over her complained about getting an upgrade to a suite. long story short – they ended up paying heaps to stay in the same suite as mine. If you’re that rich, just stop complaining already!

Room 924 it was. Looking at the map, rooms were definitely bigger than our previous one!


Opened it up and OMG, got upgraded to a suite! Thanks SPG gold! SPG has become my favourite hotel loyalty group. Along with other perks like transferring points to airline miles (asian miles etc), it is an amazing membership to hold. Not only that, you get 15% off meals when dining at any SPG property.

The suite was amazing. Looking over the park and the size was just out of this world. Huge L shape couch, study desk, on suite, bed and massive bathroom. It was raining quite heavily in Sydney and it was just perfect to do absolutely nothing but lounge around in a suite. I quickly looked up the rack rate for this room for that night and wow over $600 on their website. What a deal we scored!

I read the website about what differences there were, and it said it included access to the lounge! I quickly rang concierge but was unfortunately told that since it was an upgrade, you weren’t eligible for the lounge but eligible for buffet breakfast instead. No complaints there! Other upgrades includes better tea/coffee etc.

Executive suite lounge area

Had 2 TVs in this room as well! JAYSUS.

Executive Suite lounge area

View was amazing.

View from the suite

Bedroom was huge and had another TV as well.


Had a docking station for the iphone/ipad lightning connector

Bedside table

Had Doors which opened out to make the room larger.


Walk in wardrobe with mirrors. Nice for the ladies.

Walk in wardrobe

Bathroom was spacious with a bathtub. Executive suite also provides toothbrush and toothpaste, whilst the normal rooms don’t.

Bathroom 2

Overall, we had an amazing stay at Sydney. I really can’t complain when we paid about $220 AUD and got upgraded to a suite. It really is amazing value. I would recommend it to anyone if they go to Sydney. Other facilities include a spa/pool/well equipped gym with amazing views.

Hotel does look a bit “old” but once you enter the rooms, it feels kinda “modern” as well.

BTW peckish thinks the brekkie was awesome. More on that next time.

Deal of the century – upgrade to executive suite

Rating – 16/20 – haha maybe i shouldn’t rate hotels.

ANZ Black Qantas Frequent Flyer Credit Card Promotion – 50000 points, free annual fee first year

ANZ has a special going on until 30th June 2015. I you apply and get approved, spend $3000 within the first 3 months you will get 50000 QFF or ANZ rewards points. The other perk is of course annual fee free for the first year. (Usually $425 inc QFF opt in)

Main Perks summary

  • Good points ratio QFF AMEX – $1 – 1.5 QFF *VISA $1 – 0.75 (Which is probably the best big 4 bank earn rate)
  • Additional 1 point per $1 on Qantas Products
  • uncapped points
  • 2 x complimentary Qantas Lounge passes
  • Unlimited entry to airport lounges outside Australia through veloce
  • Discounted Qantas Club Membership
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance by QBE once you spend $250 (per event though)
  • 50000 points + free annual fee first year
  • Should be able to pay ATO with these cards, 1.45% with the AMEX is the one to go for.


  • Requires income over 75k to apply
  • VISA point ratio still doesn’t compare to other cards which can be $1 to 1 point.
  • Extended warranty only increases by 1 year if its 1-5 year warranty. Westpac is better.

My Take

  • Free 50000 QFF points and annual fee free (cancel once you get the points)
  • can sell QFF lounge pass if you don’t use it
  • QFF can be hard to redeem at times
  • Should apply before they finish in June

QT Gowings Bar & Grill Review

Our friends have been here once and recommended this place whilst we’re up in Sydney. Part of the QT Hotel groups which seem to be focused more on their arts and design. This place is located in the heart of town and is one funky, retro and creepy restaurant. We came as our friend had a Black Priority Rewards Card (part of the rydges group) where you can get 50% off your bill which seems to be an amazing deal. There was a big exclusion which I’ll explain later.

Entrance to QT is like going into a theatre or some show.

QT Sydney

The ground floor has all these mannequins dressed in 60s costumes. Even the door bitches were dressed like this.

60s Mannequins
60s Mannequins
Funky Mannequins

It’s even a grand entrance to get in. You have to go up the lift and then go up the stairs to the restaurant. The restaurant itself is large, and also has a bar lounge area which was closed on this Saturday.


Just a few more mannequins for you.

Another Mannequin.

There is a large bar when you first enter and a few bar stools.


And a wine cellar on display. I really like the layout, everything is open which makes it looks spacious and big. The kitchen is open and practically you can see the whole restaurant from your table.


Menus were laid out on the seats as they were that big. Menu has quite a few seafood dishes and steaks to choose from, sides, desserts. Modern / some American influence into their dishes.


Pretty packed on a Saturday. Decor was pretty cool


Drinks menu was a bit smaller.


This place was probably ideal for groups. Waiters and waitresses wore slim cut dresses and were funkily dressed.


Elvis on the roof? hmmmm.


Alright we had a group of 6. So we could almost order most of the menu which is great. Bread to start. Food Blogging 101. Camera eats first. Hands off my bread you guys.

Gowrings Bread

First dish – Seared yellow fin tuna “Nicoise Salad”. It has Marinated Ortiz & White anchioves, Duck Egg, Liguarian Olives, Green Beans, Kipfler potatoes, tomato and seeded mustard dressing. It was quite nice.

DSC_9666 Seared Yellow Fin Tuna belly “Nicoise Salad”

So we ordered a few starters and a main each and a couple of desserts to share. The next dish was the kingfish carpaccio. Who doesn’t like buffalo mozzarella? It was fresh and a nice dish.

Kingfish Carpaccio with buffalo mozzarella

Next up, Tartare spoons of “Petuna Ocean Trout” comes in a spoon for each person, includes soft cooked quail eggs, creme fraiche, avocado mousse, blood orange & chilli dressing. The starters were good, totally no complaints about them.

Tartare spoons of “Petuna Ocean Trout”
Tartare spoons of “Petuna Ocean Trout”

Onto the mains, IK had the Seafood Pie. She said it was divine. I believed her… Sometimes simple dishes are not easy to make, and she said it was really good – so it must be good! Inside had snapper, trout, scallops with a nice puff pastry over the top.

Seafood Pie

Quite alot of seafood tonight. My mate had the line caught SA snapper. Pan fried, classic lemon butter sauce, frisee, mint shallot salad. I had a bit and never knew how good grilled snapper can be!

Line caught Griled SA Snapper

I ordered the beef rib and when this came i thought hmmm…. bit odd. It was for out other friend fortunately this didn’t look as appealing as the other dishes. “Old School Chicago Veal” which was topped with mozzarella, mild red chilli, baked in tomato passata, marjoram, black olive capers, splash of brandy.

Old School Chicago Veal

10 Hour Cooked Moorish Beef Ribs. This was my dish. What I liked about it? Well it was extremely tender, fell off the bone sorta stuff. I did like the sultanas which gave it the sweetness but the rib itself was lacking taste. This came with a side of macaroni as well. Massive dish.

10 Hour Moorish Beef Rib

Side of macaroni as well. Nothing too special about the macaroni. Also ordered a serve of gratin.


Friend’s wife had Lemon crumb pan fried “the king of all All George Whiting”. Apparently it was very good as well. The seafood dishes were spot on.

Lemon Crumbed Pan Fried “The King of all George Whiting”

We also ordered some chips and onion rings as well.

Sides of Chips & Onion Rings

We were pretty full at this stage but again we had to soldier one, peering across the table we saw this some spectacular desserts we could not turn down. Originally our table was only till 8:45pm. We told them I was from the “peckish connoiseur” and they let us stay lol. kidding. They were nice enough to let us have desserts as well.

Fourless peanut butter double chocolate cake. This was so friggin rich, also topped with salted caramel gelato cigar scented peanuts and basil. A bit too sweet for our liking.

Fourless Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Cake

This was probably my favourite dish. My Pavlova – Soft and Sticky baked Meringue, passionfruit sauce, sugar bananas, green coconut flesh, candied coconut vanilly chantilly. The combination of textures and sourness and sweetness was superb. Excellent dish.

My Pavlova

We also shared a Baked White chilled chocolate pot – A tartare of pickled pears in vanilla and rosewater syrup, salty crispy caramel bits and almonds. Another good dish but the pavlova just hit my sweet spot.

Baked White Chilled Chocolate Pot

Open kitchen was lovely with some open ovens as well. We had a great meal. Even ordered some whiskys after to cleanse the palate. Thought that we had a good deal too with the 50% off. However, they changed the rules and you have to STAY at the hotel to get the discount. Couldn’t believe it. Well, considering we had so much food for around $80 per head I thought it was a pretty good deal. Teed up with paying with my AMEX reserve and a serve of velocity points booked through their restaurant website, I couldn’t complain really.

Open Kitchen

Rating : 16/20. Getting there!

Dish of the day : The Pav

Worth going : Hell yeah.

Quirkiness of the day : Dressed up door bitches

Atmosphere : funky as.

Gowings Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Lumi Bar & Dining Sydney Review

Been a long absence over the last few months! Theres still some of my end of year trip I haven’t posted up yet but since I’m in Sydney this long weekend, decided to post some reviews of some new places we haven’t been. On this rainy day we ventured to LuMi in Pyrmont, opposite Star City. Felt a bit like docklands in Melbourne – the only difference is I’d never time at Docklands restaurants. My best mate chose this venue. 1. he was looking for a good deal and 2. he booked via qantas restaurants which means he gets 100 QFF points per diner. Win win.

Lumi Bar & Dining

It was absolutely empty when we got there. but was pretty packed by the time we left at 2pm.

Lumi Bar & Bistro

Quite an open area with views of the harbour and decking surrounds.


LuMi Menus

Lunch consists of a 4 course menu including a dessert. Lumi has some Japanese influence in their dishes fused with what I call ‘modern’ Italian. For $55 dollars, you get the following. 1. Chawanmushi 2. Tonnarelli, candied orange and bottled squid 3. Kurobuta pork jowl w/spinach, cauliflower, kale & quinoa and 4. Ginger Ice Cream, White Chocolate, Passionfruit. You can also order from the A La Carte Menu. All the courses even mains were under $30 dollars which was quite good value, but portions were quite small.

Degustation Menu

Some drinks to start. I went for a La Mi Bionda Beer. Quite nice.



Had some Starter to start. Rice Chips & Salt and Vinegar. Quite light, yet crunchy at the same time.

Rice Chips & Salt and Vinegar

First course was the Chawanmushi. Basically looks like the Japanese egg custard, but its Italian. lol No It has parmesan Consumme with Tomato water. It was a perfect starter IMO. they still served this in a Japanese bowl which was a nice touch as well, respecting the Japanese roots of this dish.

Italian Chawanmushi

Next course was the Tonnarelli, candied orange and bottled squid. Again it almost tasted like miso with pasta, the textures and the al danteness of the pasta was excellent. My only problem with this was, it was too little…. But less is more right!? Definitely a modern italian dish, not the traditional pastas you get.

Tonnarelli, candied orange and bottled squid

We were going to order 4 of the same, but my mate had other ideas, wouldn’t let his wife order that and wanted to order some from the a la carte menu. So we ordered Veal Tartare, Tarragon and buckwheat served with flat bread. Again, wonderfully presented, it seemed to have a bed of tarragon puree, layered with the veal tartare and some crunchy buckwheat on top. Divine combination.

Veal Tartare, Tarragon and buckwheat served with flat bread
Veal Tartare, Tarragon and buckwheat served with flat bread

I didn’t have the next dish, but apparently it was also a nice dish to have. Amatriciana in the can. And literally, i reckon you can fit the pasta in a can. It was that sort of portion.

Amatriciana in the can

For our main, we had pork jowl, quinoa, cauliflower with spinach leaves over the top. Reminds me of our Attica Dish.

pork jowl, quinoa, cauliflower with spinach leaves

Crispy pork jowl underneath. Never was a fan of pork jowl as its quite stringy at times, no crunch, soft usually but I guess if you can change the textures a bit, it makes a big difference.


Our friend had the Striped Trumpeter, black sesame seeds, daikon. Again lots of Japanese ingredients used in this dish. The fish was cooked perfectly and was delicious. Again portions were just too small.

Striped Trumpeter, black sesame seeds, daikon

Finally for dessert – Ginger ice cream, white chocolate, passionfruit. Nice dish to finish with some meringue shards on top

Ginger Ice Cream, White chocolate, passionfruit

Overall, the dishes were lovely, quite a novelty to have a mixed Italian/Japanese influence. And to be honest, I don’t think there are many around. Italians tend to stick to their roots, and as the world changes all the time, its nice to see that it works quite well.

Rating : 15/20

Dish of the day : Go for the pasta

Vibe : Misses something, not sure what, maybe it was the weather.

Most Disappointing part : Still hungry after.

Would I come back : Definitely, maybe 8 courses should do the trick next time 😛

LuMi Bar & Dining on Urbanspoon

JAL First Class Sakura Lounge & Cathay First Class Review.

As I mentioned previously I used US Dividend Miles to purchase my points. There was a special in which you can buy 100% bonus points. up to 80000 points maximum. So 40000 points and you’ll get 80000 points. So i bought i think maximum 80000 points for around ~$1830USD. I may not be ever going to be able to buy these flights for these points again as US airways are merging with American Airlines and the points required from HK to Japan is more than what US airways require. And Never in my life I would ever buy premium seats without these bonuses. So don’t think I’m loaded or anything, I’m just merely maximising these perks out there and anyone even you can do it.

So, yes we’re flying FIRST class for the FIRST time. We arrived at Narita airport and checked in at the Cathay Pacific Counter. Cathay Pacific – a one world member means you can use the lounge in other one world airlines. I was looking forward to this because First Class passengers and emerald status members can enjoy going into the First Class Sakura Lounge which is part of JAL airlines. Remember – when you visit the airport which is the home of that particular airlines, the lounge is most likely to be much better. We had the choice of going into the Cathay Business & First Class Lounge, why would you when you can enter the FIRST class JAL lounge?

Sakura Lounge

Only a short walk after immigration, we entered the Sakura Lounge. The lady looked at our lounge pass and they had like 5-6 staff manning the counter. We almost couldn’t get through because they didn’t know the rules.  Once you’re in, there is a spa section where you can have a 15 minute massage. Mind you, you need to book around about 45 minutes in advanced to have your massage. So I put my name down whilst we looked around the lounge. There are some nice views of the tarmac of many JAL planes. There was a cathay pacific plane in the distance as well.

Views from the tarmac

The other amazing thing about the first class lounge is a sushi bar. yes a SUSHI bar. The bar doesn’t open until 2:30pm or 3pm so we had about 20-30mins to wait which was manageable. There was also a self serve sake bar, other drinks and some food items buffet style. The chef was preparing the sushi….

Sushi Bar at the Sakura Lounge

So we got some food which was okay, some salads etc.

my massage pass and appetisers

I went closer to the sushi bar for another snap. Chef was nowhere to be seen at this minute. Salivating…

Sushi Bar

So I had no choice but to get some more sake, a compari orange and some, Japanese curry rice and some pate whilst waiting for the sushi.

Japanese curry rice

Finally, 3:00pm, we lined up to get our sushi. There was only a set so you don’t get to choose what you get. Had some tuna, prawn and tamago. Still you can get it as many times as you like! All you can eat! I think i had 3 plates worth.

Sushi platter at the Sakura Lounge

So good to have an actual sushi chef making your sushi.

Chef doing his thing.

After being super full, I had my 15 minute massage. I was expecting a nice hot looking Japanese girl doing it, however it was a guy… Anyway he was great, although fully clothed, you get a choice of back massage, leg and I think a neck massage.

We walked about 10 mins to the gate and it was already queuing up. Even the Business class queue was long. So, being first class passengers, we flashed our tickets and went straight to the front of the queue – first ones in. We got in and they welcomed us, and told us both of you are the only ones in first class so you may choose any seat you like! OMG i thought. I mean theres only 6 seats in the Cathay 777 plane and its a reasonably short flight of around less than 5 hours, I guess at most business class will do most people.

Me sitting in FIRST class

Ok lets have a look at the seat. The seat width is humongous. I mean you can fit two people comfortably in one of these seats. Theres a massive side skirt where you can comfortably put all your goodies like ipad, wallet etc. Also have the iconic lily in each seat.

Cathay 777 First Class seat

I was offered some champagne. I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t the Krug I was expecting, but was pretty good regardless.

First Class Champagne

There’s also an ottoman where you can sit another person comfortably on the other side. I’ll explain why they have that in a minute. Theres a massive screen and there’s no over head lockers, so you just put your carry on under the seat in front.

Cathay’s First class seat. Includes the ottoman

The flight attendant also gave us a hot towel and a bottle of eviaaaann.

Hot towel and bottle of evian

First Class menu.

First Class menu

There were a few choices. There was also a special Japanese Kaiseki menu which IK chose. I went for the lobster and steak.

The Menu is as Follows

  • Starters
    • Maine Lobster with fingerling potato
    • Cauliflower cream soup
  • Main Courses
    • Grilled US prime beef tenderloin with chive garlic, mashed potatoes, glazed baby carrots and mushroom ragout with Madeira
    • Braised duck with pickled chilli steamed jasmine rice, broccoli and carrot
    • Mezzi rigatoni tossed with Parmesan, zucchini cream, carrot and artichoke
  • Cheese and Dessert
    • Stilton, Pecorini, St Pauline, Camembert
    • Fresh Seasonal fruit
    • Mixed berry tartlet

As for the Japanese Meal I’ll go through it with the photos in a minute.

First Class menu

We had 3 flight attendants to 2 of us in first class. I mean thats just insane. Derek the Chief flight manager had this funny english accent when he was on the PA. Seemed to exaggerate all his words and has this funny tone on all his words. They asked when we wanted our meals, we opted to have it sooner rather than later so we could snooze a bit later.

Watched a movie or 2

Little light on the side to read your books or do some work.

Reading light.

We asked for some more drinks. Went for the Cathay delight and it came with some nuts (on some plates of course).

Cathay Delight & nuts

Was looking frantically to recline the seats, and found this little screen to recline the seat into a fully flat bed.

LCD screen to recline your seats.

Went over to IK’s seat and took of photo of this.

View from the plane

Here’s the first course. Braised whelk, fish cake with crab meat, scallop with pepper, stewed smelt with lotus root and chestnut. It was very Japanesy, and catering from Japan, you can’t expect less I Guess. I should have chosen this!

Frist course – Canapes

They also give a little card hand written of course to say it’s a pleasure to look after your during this flight etc. Nice touch.

Bon Appetit card

Here it is close up. 

Bon Appetit

I obviously went for the lobster. the potatoes was a let down, dry, basic simple. The lobster was also a bit cold and didn’t seem that particularly fresh. It was okay only.

Start – Maine lobster with fingerling potato

Now, you see why the ottoman can be useful. They can pull out a table and you can have dinner with your loved ones up in the air! How cool is that. My only problem was dinner was about almost 2 hours long, so i was missing out on a nice throne seat ! Anyway, can’t beat having dinner with your loved one.

Having a dinner date in the air

Check out the view now of somewhere over Japan.

View from the air

The appetizer was a shrimp meat with wasabi, sea urchin, smoked snapper, smoked tuna served with green apple liqueur. This was lovely, even though IK had it. Very delicate, very fresh.

The appetizer

A close up shot for you.


Apple liqueur was really nice too.

Apple Liqueur

My other starter was the cauliflower cream soup. Reading about hte meals on first class on Cathay, the entrees are usually the best and the main course is usually very average. I can see why. The soup was great though.

Cauliflower soup

Braised Dish – Bean curd, fish roe, mushroom and pumpkin

Braised Dish

Heres my steak. This was really average I’m afraid to say. The flight attendant did ask how I wanted to meat. I said medium rare, and this was overly cooked 100%. But a hint of redness at all… Potatoes wasn’t sieved through enough and the vegetables were just vegetables. Didn’t finish this as it was too average for my liking. Plus I was too full from the lounge!

Prime beef tenderloin main

Next main dish – Broiled Black cod with sea urchin sauce and rice powder dusted crab claw. This was great. I love how Japanese cook their fish. So delicious.

Kaiseki Main dish

also came with

  • Scallop, pickled sea cucumber, anglar livery, globe fish skin julienne, green shiso vinegar radish
  • Noodle – Yuzu soba noodle and buckwheat noodle
  • Rice served with assorted pickles and miso soup.

This meal is amazing. Because I wanted to try out the other mains so I could review it for you guys. Otherwise I reckon we both should have had this. Wonderful.

The mains in a tray.

So back I go, otherwise I would have wasted the rest of the time sitting on the ottoman when I could sit on this huge seat. There are only 6 seats in first class in a 1 – 1 – 1 configuration. The best seats are usually on the Left hand side of the plane as theres only 2 seats with one walkway. So we had those 2 seats until the flight attendant wanted us to move to this side so we could see each other. And BS you can’t even see each other as you can see each site is quite private. Even if you stick your head out, and if your partner / friend doesn’t stick their heads out you cannot see each other. Next time, I’ll know better!

The flight attendants were also able to sit on the otherside to have their meals. Nice to be working in first class!

The First Class seat

Oh I forgot we had cheese too..

Cheese Assortment

Came with some bread, crackers & quince.

Cheese assortment
Cheese assortment

The lighting changed before landing and I had another opportunity to take another photo of this wonderful product.

Cathay 777 First Class

Bottom Line

Overall, I highly recommend the Cathay First Class product. The service is second to none, and it can be so comfortable once fully reclined. We didn’t ask to have the turn over service to get the beds made but what the hell, more than enough for a 5 hour flight. The service was amazing and almost a bit over the top really but having 3 staff to 2 was just too much really. The JAL Sakura lounge was worth the visit and we had a wonderful experience. I don’t know when we will travel on first again, but to travel at such a massive discount is worth it IMO. Play hard, work hard right?

Cathay First Class Rating 

16/20 . Sorry my mains was a let down but the rest was just perfect!

Next up – HK and Taiwan! Also Michelin star restaurant in HK – Caprice!

Tonkatsu and Zakuro Shabu Shabu

We have been staying at Tokyo Park Hotel which is around a 10 min walk from Shimbashi station (JR line). Every day when we walk to the station, we saw this shop underneath the Shimbashi station complex. They sell onigiris and rice soup. It’s designed for a quick eat going to and fro work. There is a vending machine and you choose your meal and they ask whether you want a big rice or small rice. We just wanted to share this rice with some salmon and seaweed. It’s a nice breakfast.

Rice Soup with Salmon and Seaweed

It was a shopping day today, so we went to Shinjuku and checked out some of the department stores. IK wanted to eat Tonkatsu, so we ventured up Takashimaya department store to Katsukura. We ordered a Rosu Cut Tonkatsu set. Rosu is the more fattier cut, whilst HI RE is the leaner cut. Obviously tastes better when its fat. There’s a few appetisers included in the set. Some veges to start.


IK wanted the tofu.

Tofu Appetiser

all these Tonkatsu restaurants usually comes with a Tonkatsu sauce and sesame that you grind first and dip in. Also is a ponzu sauce for the sliced cabbage. (I can eat a kilo of this I reckon)


You can see the fat lining one side of the pork. It was divine. Crunchy on the outside, the fat rendering gives that juice and makes the pork much more moist.

Rosu Tonkatsu

It was a rainy day so there wasn’t much excitement. We were meeting up with my host family which I was quite excited about. They took us to have Shabu Shabu in Nihonbashi station called Zakuro. It was quite hidden, you had to walk down some stairs to get to this place. I knew it was going to be an expensive place as the staff come and greet you and take your belongings to store. It’s a place where lots of businessmen take their clients and do some PRing.

Started off with some sesame Tofu.

Sesame Tofu

Some more fish testicles…. Shirako with lemon. Love this stuff. Just love fish balls.

Shirako (Fish Milt)

Now I have totally forgotten what I ate here. It was a savoury jelly. I couldn’t remember what was in it though…

Jelly appetiser.

Check out these big pots where you shabu shabu in them. Host family told us its called shabu shabu because it mimics the sound when you move the meat around the hot pot.

Shabu Shabu Pot

Lady pouring some more hot water in.

Lady pouring more hot water in.

Just love the shabu pot.

Shabu Shabu pot

Comes with a few sauces when you have the wagyu meat. The sesame or the ponzu sauce. Both were nice.

Sauces that come with it

Look at the warble of the meat. Snow in meat.


And more just for you.

More marbling

I really don’t know how this gadget works but it is just fascinating. The water has to be boiling hot.

Looks like a little chimney

Had some noodles as well to finish off. this was cooked in the shabu shabu pot after we finished our meat.

Egg noodles

Some pickles with the noodles.


Dessert to finish off. Red bean with mochi.

Red bean with mochi

Group shot!Oh yes, we had aprons as well!


I’ve been to better shabu shabu places, but it was nice to have a meal and catch up with your loved ones. My host brother hasn’t changed too much, still really couldn’t understand his english at times!

Next up we’re going back to Hongkers! JAL first class lounge review and Cathay 777 First Class review.

Asakusa’s Sensoji & Kitasenju’s Ajihisa izakaya

Next stop was Asakusa’s Sensoji. On the way we saw this cool mural on the wall. So artistic.


Sensoji is Tokyo’s oldest temple and most historical. It is the ground for the famous festival – Sanja Matsuri. Probably one of Tokyo’s most iconic tourist spot.

Entrance to Sensoji

Famous for its gate in the front – called kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) In the middle of it hangs a giant red chochin (lantern) which is 4m tall and 3.4m in circumference.


Heres another shot of it from the front.


And another one.


Heres the famous street (Nakamise Dori) with many shops leading to the Sensoji.

Nakamise Street

We had some Red bean sweets on the way to the shrine.

Red Bean sweet shop

Even had a knife shop. Looks pretty sharrrppp…

Knife Shop

You can get many souvenirs and many other things to eat along the way.

Nakamise Street

Once you get to the end you see Hozomon (Treasure house gate) which has two statues and 2 giant sandals.


Theres another lantern here, not as big though. It states the name of a town Kobunacho.

Kobunacho lantern

You can also try your luck with omikuji (Lucky charm paper), pretty much tells you your future lol. Basically you shake this tin with sticks which are numbered. Then you go the corresponding box and get your lucky paper. It was all good things on our paper so you get to keep it. If its unlucky, then you tie it up on a piece of string!


Asakusa main hall

Main Hall

Then you have these massive barrells of sake (probably empty) right next to the shrine.

Barrels of Sake

Here is one massive sandal!

Massive Sandal

So Mr Dora then took us to have “hoppy”. So next to the shrine there was this street where there are  lots of eateries.

Next to Sensoji Streets

Just in case there are some horses that go through this area!

Sign saying get off your horse!

You can buy very random things on this street. IK bought a squirrel brush for her make up.

Streets of Asakusa

here we are. Izakaya Tonpei!

Izakaya Tonpei

He wanted me to try this… Hoppy. Pretty much a non-alcoholic beer, and we added some shochu in it.


Then had some small eats Nikujaga or something like that.


IK wanted to have okonomiyaki. So we took a train to Kitasenju where Mr Dora lives. We went up to have Monjayaki and Okonomiyaki.

How the okonomiyaki comes in.

So you cook it yourself in Japan. Firstly, learn from the pro. You mix it, add a bit of sauces like soy sauce etc.

Mixing the mix first
Keep mixing…

Then pour it on the hot sizzling plate. This one is a monjayaki which is more watery and has lots of salmon roes in it. Apparently this is what kids eat as snacks in Japan.

Cooking up Monjayaki

You use these little cute utensils to eat it as well!

Monjayaki utensil

Now for IK’s turn to mix the Okonomiyaki.

Mixing okonomiyaki

Then you layer it on the hot sizzling plate in a circular shape.

Slapping it on the sizzling plate

Then flip it after a couple of mins. Then sprinkle some nori on top.


Sprinkle some nori

Then some bonito flakes that wriggles. Then some Mayo on top and wahala Okonomiyaki DIY. Mr Dora shook his head when he saw the couple next door cooking it. Telling us its the WRONG way to do it. Tip for you – go with a local. well someone who loves to eat as well!

Bonito sprinkling
Mayo on top

We were pretty full by the time we actually had the real meal lol.We went to this very local but delicious izakaya – Ajihisa.

Izakaya Ajihisa

Some Japanese pickles to start and some starters.

Japanese Pickles










Theres another fish market second biggest apparently near here and this is where that sashimi comes from. Big CHUNKY pieces yet so FRESH.

Sashimi Moriawase

Next some clams, they were pretty big.


Fried oysters next. So damn good.

Fried Oysters

Next, some fried chicken with lemon.

Fried Chicken

Then a massive tempura platter

Tempura platter

Fish testicles anyone? They were creamy and with some ponzu sauce, it was quite nice actually.

Fish testicles

Then we had some Gingko nuts which was on top of some hot salt. Funny taste indeed, a little bitter, but texture was not hard, but more like chestnut texture.

Gingko nut

I was seriously about to puke soon, I have certainly gained some weight during this trip and this monster nabe comes. My god, its got salmon, prawns, shittake mushrooms, clams, tofu, cabbage, enoki mushrooms, oysters as well.

Seafood Nabe

Oysters were so good. Can’t beat a nice nabe in Japan. Ultimate dish.

Nabe with oysters

Mr Dora was the last to finish eating. Can’t blame him, we had so much food!

Mr Dora

Bottom line 

To really experience the local cuisine, nothing beats a local bringing you to places. I think Ajihisa was probably my favourite out of this trip. Being able to dine amongst locals without having a english menu and eat what they eat was amazing. Love to have some restaurant like that in Melbourne one day.

Izakaya Tonpei

This place reminds me of the local street food shops in Taiwan/ Hong Kong.

2 Chome-3-17 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032, Japan

Go here for … : hoppy!

Rating : Only had a few dishes and hoppy so no rating for this place.

Ajihisa Izakaya

19-7 Senjuasahichō, Adachi-ku, Tōkyō-to 120-0026, Japan

Dish of the day : I think all of the dishes deserve some credit but the sashimi was just so fresh and chunky.

Disappointing thing : They don’t have desserts…

Rating 15/20

Next up : Zakuro Shabu Shabu and JAL first class lounge and Cathay Pacific First class experience

Tsukiji & Ueno

Bit of a foodie day today.The run down is as follows

  • Tsukiji for sushi/kaisendon
  • Ueno for Anmitsu (Mihashi)
  • Asakusa for Hoppi/Izakaya
  • Okonomiyaki  in Kitasenju
  • Local Japanese eatery in Kitasenju

We left mid morning for Tsukiji which is walkable from our hotel. This is the view from the Tokyo Park Hotel. The hotel’s lobby is located on level 20 or so, not on the ground floor, but the views you get from the reception area is just amazing. You can over see the roppongi area.

View from Tokyo Park Hotel

Took us about 20 mins to walk to Tsukiji. We got out a bit later than we wanted to and even on a weekday, the market was packed. I’ve been to the market before and if you want to see the tuna auction which is so famous for, you gotta be there bright and early 5 am or something. A good experience and then you can have your favourite sushi afterwards. Theres quite a lot of shops to choose from, but the queues were just wayyy too long. So we chose the sushi place with the shortest queue.

Tsukiji market packed in the morning

Here was one which was packed and the queue started into the street. There were quite a few Chinese tourists, and people in the restaurant can even speak some chinese now! Talk about following the flow.

Kaisendon Restaurant

Instead we went next door to Bentomi sushi.

Sushi Bentomi

You can peer through the windows to see what they’re eating, but there were very limited seats probably 10-12 max and all on the counter.

It’s open, salivating but we can’t get in yet!

Peering through, you see the chef at work. There were 2 sushi chefs and an employee working in this small sushi restaurant.

Sushi chef at work

The menu consisted of some sets and kaisendons.

Bentomi Menu

You can also order a la carte if you can read Japanese. They had a “Today’s special” which i was able to read and IK had that.

Bentomi Menu on the board

I naturally went for the kaisendon. This was so friggin good. The uni, the crab, the popping roe and salmon and tuna. hmmmm.


This is IK’s gentei which included 10 pieces of sushi.

Today’s Special

And a front view. She gobbled it all up in no time.

Today’s special

She also wanted to try the chu-toro (Tuna belly) which is very nice as well.


And also a Anago (sea eel) which was delicious.


We were pretty content with this meal and after a short work, we went to Akihabara! Akihabara is known for its anime/electronics/manga books, and cosplay (girls dressed up in anime costumes ) I just wanted to be one for 5 secs…


We were walking towards ueno and were already salivating. Gindako is known for its Takoyaki and have a few franchises around. They had to have some anime posters since its Akiba after all.


Recognise this? Ippudo famous ramen. They have it in Hong Kong so didn’t bother trying this out.


Finally we got to Mihashi (known for its Japanese sweets)

MIhashi front of shop

Recommended by our friend.


Anmitsu is well known here.


We had a few to share. This was kuri-zenzai. A chestnut and red bean soup/dessert. This had a hot mochi inside, and a side of salty konbu to neutralise the sweetness. Very interesting indeed!

Kuri Zenzai

Had 1 type of anmitsu (fruit cream) with soft serve. Quite nice.

Fruit cream anmitsu

and a macha icecream anmitsu which was amazing as well.

Macha icecream anmitsu

This shop is the main shop and has very famous Japanese desserts. Highly recommend this place if you’re around Ueno.


4-9-7 Ueno, Taito-ku
Tel: 03-3831-0384

Bentomi Sushi

Tsukiji Market Central Wholesale Building no. 8
Tokyo Metropolis, Chuo Ward
Tsukiji District, 5 Chome 2-1-8-4

Next up – Asakusa and Kita Senju for a local but awesome dinner.


Tokyo Sky Tree and Bistro Bizen

We wanted to check out the new Tokyo Sky Tree Tower which was quite close to Asakusa. We took the train and got off at Oshiage station and walked the Tokyo sky tree.

How to get there…

to climb this beast.

Tokyo Sky Tree
Floor guide…















Our friend who has been working in Sapporo until recently has never been, so we went together. The queue was crazy, it was like a maze of humans and one of our other friends told us he waited 3 hours last time! My god… Luckily we waited maybe 30 mins. So theres 2 observation decks. The first one goes up to 350m (Tembo Sky deck) and then you pay to go further up to 450m (Tembo Galleria). Galleria was smaller, also had 360 degree views but was less crowded.





But look at the night views you can get once you’re up there… You just wonder how friggin big Tokyo is.

View from Tokyo Sky Tree

The views are just spectacular.

Another view

Just thinking this can never happen in Australia…

Another shot from the observation deck

There are quite a few interactive screens as well to learn more about Tokyo.

Interactive screens

We managed to get a shot of santa up there as well.

Santa shot
Shot going up the elevator
Night View
Another board showing the landmarks

The views up Tokyo Sky tree are amazing. There were a lot of people so be warned. After checking out sky tree, the boys took us to a French / Japanese restaurant called Bistro Bizen. Bizen is the Japanese pottery. So every dish etc is made out of porcelin or Bizen as they call it.

Bistro Bizen

We were a bit early by 30 mins or so and they wouldn’t let us in… So typical of Japanese, you have to come back at the RIGHT time. Anyway we felt like a beer and snack so we went to the Izakaya next door to have some skewers and izakaya food.

Bistro Bizen Entrance
Izakaya Menu

Fancy some offal? pretty damn good izakaya. One thing I didn’t like is that people can still smoke in restaurants etc.

Offal Dish

We went back after 30 mins or so and were welcomed by some friendly Japanese staff. It’s only a very small restaurant, maybe 10-12 tables at most. So we sat down and were given the menu. Apparently there were a few items on the menu you MUST have. You choose i think 3 dishes you want to have and thats pretty much it. Our friend on the left is pretty enthusiastic about food so he was explaining each dish.

Pondering what to have…

Ever had French food with chopsticks? Well you do at Bistro Bizen… Everything is Bizen, even the little vase is made from bizen.

Pretty flowers in bizen
Chopsticks… I think the chopsticks holder is bizen

The cutlery are so perfectly arranged. On the right is the menu. There were a few specials

Cutlery at Bistro Bizen
Bistro Bizen Menu

The flower arrangement was pretty impressive. A few Chandeliers and a cosy restaurant.

Flower arrangement in Bistro Bizen
Mini Flower Arrangement

We were offered some champagne to start. We ordered a bottle and IK ordered pear juice.

Pear Juice

You’d think these were white chocolate balls. WRONG – butter to start of course. Bread was warm and crispy.

Bizen butter

First up was our entrees. IK had some sashimi with radishes and salmon roe. I had some lobster i think with fresh fruit!

Sashimi – French style
Lobster with fresh fruit

Don’t forget the cork.


The mains or in between mains and entrees were amazing too. How about froe grois with rice ? Or fancy some abalone? These were french inspired but had this Japanese influence in these dishes. I think they marry quite well. The froe grois was rich and creamy and the creaminess is nullified by the rice.

Froe Grois with rice

Next was some soup

DSC_3212 DSC_3213

The mains didn’t disappoint as well. Lobster and beef. Again Japanese inspired dressings but beautifully cooked.


Had to have some dessert as well. We had a mix of a few cakes, truffles, and a little surprise from the restaurant. Even had our faces on it!

Dessert Platter
Nice touch from Bistro Bizen

Overall, Bistro Bizen was truely a different perspective of French cuisine. The mains and entrees were excellent and the service typical of Japanese. IK was quite suprised about the crowd in the restuarant. We were the only younger ones, and were wearing just normal casual clothes. The table next to us had 2 couples and IK was suprised how upright the Japanese women sat. They laughed covering their mouths and she felt they were a bit fake. Our friends said, once they get home they don’t act like that. I guess its quite important in Japanese culture they impress and do what the norm does. But i guess having that culture, they seem to perfect everything and this restaurant is no different.

Bistro Bizen 


4-3 Kandasurugadai, Chiyoda 101-0062, Tokyo Prefecture

Rating 16/20

Dish of the day – Froe Grois with rice

Next up : Tsukiji Market kaisen don again!