JW Marriott South Beach Singapore Review

We decided to stay an extra night around 2 weeks prior to our departure so I was looking at the rates for NYE and it was incredibly expensive. It was around $220 for a night at the Sheraton Towers, more on that on another review. NYE for this JW marriot was retailing for the basic room for $650SGD!

Since I am a newly minted Platinum member thanks to SPG reciprocal benefits I was able to use around 14000 SPG points to transfer over to Marriott to book this. I’d say thats a steal. So RRP I probably stayed in a $700-$800SGD room by merely using points !

The uber ride was quick only 10 mins from Sheraton Towers and arrived in this new hotel which opened only in mid December.

The porters greeted us and opened our doors and was promptly helped into the reception area which was narrow and had a few lounge chairs to sit out whilst you wait. We waited 20 mins until we were served. Other people just lined up so the transition still needs working on. Theres no queue for platinum or gold members either. Amy took care of our check in. Alot of the staff are Korean for some reason and we found the language barrier to be an issue. I asked if there were any upgrades for platinum members. She said the hotel was full. I didn’t press the issue as we just wanted to check out the hotel as soon as possible. We were issued 2 keys but wasn’t told what I was entitled to – e.g. points, lounge access, late check out etc.

When they brought the luggage up, then we were told on a small piece of paper that we were able to access the lounge for afternoon tea – too late by the time i checked it out, evening canapes and breakfast which was located on level 2.

JW Marriott Entrance

The hotel itself is just under a MRT station and walkable to the riverside and makansutra where we had dinner that night.

JW Marriott South Beach

At the entrance there was this amazing screen with animated art. quite stunning.

So once we got into the room I think we were already upgraded to a premier king room. I heard from others on flyertalk that there was a smaller room they tried to get a rollaway bed in. This must be the room one less than a suite. The hallway is big and there were 2 chairs at the entrance which I felt was a bit odd – you couldn’t lounge around there. At most it was only to put your shoes on.

Hallway in our room

Bathroom was well designed – there was a separate shower, a bathtub and TOTO operated toilet which i found it hard to use. I did manage to wash my bum once!

Bathroom

The toilet lid opens itself but i don’t think it was a fully integrated one. Ones in Japan even flush the toilet for you.

TOTO toilet

They had a rainhead shower and the toiletries were not John Malone but some other brand starting with H.

Shower

There wasn’t much space to put your toiletries etc but the space was cleverly designed and modern.

Bathroom

The bed was adequately nice, blinds and curtains were electronically controlled. I liked how there was a power point right next to the bed to charge your phones etc.

Our King Bed

View was alright even though we were on the 12th floor, you could still see the riverside and we were able to enjoy the fireworks at night from our room. You couldn’t open up the blinds right up unfortunately but could only open or close them.

View from our room

The two odd seats at the entrance.

Hallway Entrance

They had a steamer, kettle, water and some coffee and tea. They did supply TWG which is famous in Singapore. They also had a dryer and straighter which IK loved.

Mini Bar Area

In the wardrobe there were 2 robes and this shoe shine service which i took advantage of. I called twice using the phone they had and didn’t pick it up until I called the second time. I also didn’t think they shined it !

Complimentary Shoe Shine Service

Here is the butler room so you could put your dry cleaning in here and your shoes etc. Similar to St Regis’s properties.

Butler room

We decided to check out the hotel facilities etc and went up to level 18 where the pool , gym and flow 18 bar is. There are some stunning views once you get up here. There’s a section here where you can just lounge around.

Sky Garden

The pool had amazing views of the skyscrapers and the surroundings. IT was getting packed by the time we got up here and alot of kids turned up 🙁

JW Marriott Pool
Level 18

They also had a pool table which was nice i thought. Definitely more for the younger crowd.

Pool Table

There was also a foozeball table.

Foozeball

And even a mirror top table tennis table!

Table Tennis

You could definitely lounge around the pool all afternoon and just enjoy the skyscrapers.

Views from the pool
Pool Area

We then went down to the lounge area to have a look and it was huge! Its on level 2 and you cross this bridge to enter it. The staff were attentive and proactively asked if you would like a drink etc.

Marriot Executive Lounge

There was even a bar tender there to make your drinks during the evening! There were free flowing whiskies and champagne and beer for your liking.

Bar Area in the lounge
Bridge to the Executive Lounge

On level 1 there was a tonic bar which looked chic. Unfortunately i didn’t have a drink here as there was flowing grog at the lounge during the evening!

Tonic Bar

The spread was pretty amazing for a lounge. They had atlantic salmon, cold cuts, salads, some hot foods on the other side as well.

Evening Canapes Spread

There were some breads and cheese in the middle

Bread and Cheese

The lounge was modern and had 2 rooms inside for more private groups and meeting rooms as well. A nice oak table in the middle as well.

JW executive lounge

this is the other pink glassed off room.

Pink room

You could definitely enjoy dinner here. I had a soup, some fried tempura and pastries and some cold cuts. However you are in singapore so there are plenty of other options outside and shouldn’t eat too much at the lounge!

My evening canapes

The lounge was massive. It could easily fit 100 people. I found it quite crowded that night. I guess it was NYE.

Another section of the lounge

I also went down for breakfast and it was even more spectacular. They had on demand eggs, prawn noodles, more pastries, cereal, juices, cold cuts which were the same as the evening canapes and tea.
Overall – Still some tweaking needed in regards to status recognition and checking in. The staff standing around were polite and greeted well. The room was nice but the shoe shine service was a flop. I also went to the gym and it had modern equipment and was excellent. I tried to make a booking to Akira Back – Korean American Celebrity chef restaurant but it was booked out obviously for NYE.

I would not hesitate to stay here again by using points. It was definitely a steal. However if you wanted to relax with a family i think Sheraton is nicer and quieter. This is a bit chic so perfect for younger couples.

Address

30 Beach Road  Singapore  189763  Singapore 

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/sinjw-jw-marriott-hotel-singapore-south-beach/

Rue D’Or St Regis Osaka Review

We were pretty tired and didn’t want to venture out too far for a meal. So we went shopping and sightseeing till late and came back to eat around 8pm at St Regis’s own restaurant. I called to book this during the day at the downstairs Rue D’Or french restaurant. Usually Japanese have good French/Italian fusion cuisines.

Menu was an IPAD! thats interesting. im not sure whether i like this idea or not. I always think a piece of paper/menu is always better and special.

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Ipad Menu

 

St Regis guests have a special menu which is slightly cheaper and better. This is today’s menu. I had to prompt them for this menu however.

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St Regis Rue D’Or Menu

I opted for the 3 course wine pairing for I think 3000 yen which was cheap.

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Glass of Champagne
Amuse Bouche to start. 
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Amuse Bouche
Next up was Lobster, Cavier and gratin served in a shell. I think you get all the good stuff in one hit. Check this out. It was pretty good. 
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Lobster, Cavier and gratin served in a shell.

Gotta have some bread in a French restaurant.

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French Bread
My next glass of white wine. 
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White Wine

Next up was a sweet garlic galette with a salad of asparagus and plum tomato.

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sweet garlic galette with a salad of asparagus and plum tomato

A bit of a soup next which was an chilli avocado soup with tortilla chips

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chilli avocado soup with tortilla chips

interesting interior.

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St Regis Rue D’Or interior
Next was a John Dory Fillet with aubergine caviar and olive tapenade. We were pretty full at this point. But there was more to come. 
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John Dory Fillet with aubergine caviar and olive tapenade.

Final dish was duck breast with lavender, fennel and peach puree. It was wonderfully presented. The chef was French and you can see the French cooking and presentation.

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Duck breast with lavender, fennel and peach puree
Finally, dessert! I think this was a reaspberry creme brulee. It was made to perfection. 
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Raspberry Creme Brulee
The St Regis Bar was quite popular according to reviews and it looked awesome. It was hard not to come in as you had to past here to get back to your hotel room. As platinum guests, there was a special where you buy one whisky get one free. 
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St Regis Bar

Before dinner, we saw a couple and the girl had some flowers as well. Anyway they eventually moved into the bar. Probably has dating her or was about to propose? Who knows. Quite funny seeing Japanese couples date. The interior had some Japanese painting (obviously of Osaka seeing the castle there) But there was also a touch of New York.

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Inside St Regis Bar
Drinks were not cheap but as SPG members, drinks were discounted. The bartender was a female as well! Pretty unusual but cool. I had a negroni and it didn’t disappoint. 
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Negroni
IK had a mojito which was pretty well executed. 
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Mojito

You cannot come to Japan without having one of their famous whiskys. Note some of the prices!

 

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Whisky Menu

I had no choice but to order one! I’m sorry I even forgot what I had!

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Japanese Whisky on rocks

Bottom Line – Japanese can also do good Western Food. This place was quite worth it for the quality and being a St Regis guest, the special was a no brainer. I thought service was a bit lackluster maybe because we came late so everything seemed rush. They had waiters who had fairly good english so we were quite impressed

Tip – have the set menu if you’re staying at the hotel. You get a better price/menu.

Rating – 16/20

Address : Japan, 〒541-0053 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Honmachi, 3−6−12

Kani Doraku Dotombori Honten

It is a bit touristy, but we wanted to try this famous crab restaurant. You can’t book in the main store but the website does tell you how long it will take to wait if you put your name down. We were extremely lucky, we walked in and had a table! It was around 2-3pm mind you at this stage so maybe it wasn’t as busy. Located in Dotombori where you get all the eateries endless shopping district.

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Dotombori

Here it is – the famous crab.

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Kani Doraku

There were heaps on the menu so we ended up ordering 2 sets.

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Kani Doraku Menu

You get a good view of Dotombori.

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View from Dotombori

Started off with some crab legs with a sourish sauce. The crab wasn’t the best as it was a little stuck in the shell. However it was more for the experience.

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Crab legs

Then we had a raw sashimi version.

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Raw Sashimi crab legs

Crab Chawanmushi was next up.

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Crab Chawanmushi

Next was a crab rice. You have to wait for like 15 mins until it was ready.

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Crab Rice

A Baked crab dish.

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Baked Crab dish

This was a grilled crab leg with lemon.

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Grilled crab leg with lemon

How about a tempura version ?

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Tempura crab leg

You cannot go without crab sushi. Delicious.

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Crab Sushi

Crab Miso Soup.

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Crab Miso Soup

Here is the crab rice earlier. We were pretty friggin full as we ordered too much at this point, but crab rice is one of my favourite dishes in Japan. Amazing yum.

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Crab rice

The only dish without crab – dessert! Vanilla ice cream with green tea.

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Vanille icecream with green tea

Overall, not the best crab restaurant I thought, it was tasty and showed an array of different ways to cook crab. It was still pretty nice, although a bit touristy.

Rating : 14/20

Tip : go outside and buy the crab shell – you get all the innards and goodies which is grilled. You don’t have to line up for that either!

〒542-0071 1-6-18, Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

06-6211-8975

Osaka St Regis Review

I was looking at which SPG property to stay in Osaka. We took a normal train from Kyoto to Osaka which took merely around 20-25 mins. We stood most of it as it was packed. I was researching and found that St Regis Osaka was probably the cheapest St Regis property out there. RRP around ~300-400 AUD per night. Considering you can free breakfast with my platinum status, i thought it was worth the shot. We travelled to Hommachi Station and walked to St Regis. It’s a bit hard to find with luggage i thought. You can go through some buildings to get there once you know your directions.

We were greeted downstairs by the bellmen and they check your details before you head up to reception. We were upgraded to a Grand Deluxe Room. I think it’d be pretty hard to get upgraded to a suite despite platinum status here. Most reviews I read were allocated this room. I have to say its pretty big for Japanese standards. With all Japanese hotels, the bellmen (actually bell ladies!) carried up the luggage to your room. I felt bad because our luggage were so heavy.

We were also told that our butler will come up to explain the room and offer a welcome drink. More on that later.

King size bed, a funky jacket hanger and a long sofa along the room.

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Grand Deluxe Room

You get incredible views of the Osaka skyline but make sure to shut your blinds to sleep !

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Osaka Skyline

There is a study desk with alot of good stationary ; a rubber, highlighter, sticky note pads, paper etc.

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Study Desk

Close of of some stationary they give you. I love collecting hotel pens. This was one of my favourites.

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Stationary

There was an inbuilt mirror in the desk as well, which you can put some jewellery etc in there as well.

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The wardrobe was big enough to fit our luggage, there was a safe and St Regis robe.

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Wardrobe

Toilet was separate which is great for privacy.

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Toilet

The bathroom was huge. They had great amenities and a amazing shower/bathtub.

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Bathroom

They had an interesting shower head. instead of the rain forest shower head, they had a wall one. I guess its great for those who don’t want to get their hair wet! There was also a TV as well which was great.

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St Regis Bathroom

The marble tiled bathroom makes it posh and elegant.

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St Regis Bathroom

You have this secret door where you can pick up garments and newspaper – they call it the butler box or something. Don’t worry, its not big enough for someone to sneak in.

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Butler Box

The minibar was pretty good. I loved this space. They had nespresso coffee, minibar and 3000 yen worth you can drink from if you choose that as your welcome amenity.

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St Regis Minibar

They had a range of small liquor you can choose from. I obviously went for the Japanese whisky Taketsuru.

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Whisky in the minibar

The TV was hidden well as well. Although its not as central as you want it to be.

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TV

There’s even a butler menu which tells you all the services you can have. That includes choosing your own pillow, and free pressing of 2 garments per stay. There was a welcome note however it wasn’t personalised which was a bit of a shame. I’ve never stayed here before as well so it was a pretty generic card.

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Butler Menu

Here is the pillow menu! I didn’t choose any particular pillow, the pillow there was comfortable enough.

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Pillow Menu

Just lounging around at St Regis!

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Heres the menu for drinks. Obviously pricey.

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Drinks Menu

Our butler was lovely – his english quite poor but you can get by. He offered us a drink and a sweet to welcome us. He also helped us with finding places to eat and they print out all the details in colour etc. We told him we wanted to try the Kani Dyoraku which is the famous crab restaurant. He found other alternatives as well. We decided to go there anyway later that day.

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Welcome Drink

Heading down the lift. St Regis branding all over. love the vibe.

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Overall, we had a wonderful stay at St Regis. Its close to many attractions and easy to get to. It is pricey but probably the cheapest St Regis in the world.

I’ll review the bar and breakfast in my next post.

Address: 3-6-12 Honmachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, 541-0053, Japan

Kushiyaki Manten Kyoto Review

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.

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Menu

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.

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Kushiyaki Manten

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.

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Counter Seats

Menu was quite extensive. We ended up getting a set and some other things as well.

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Menu

This was part of the set with some asparagus, eggplant and some other goodies. I’ll just let the picture speak for themselves.

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Kushiyaki set

Some giblets, prawns, scallops and other stuff as well.

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more kushiyaki

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.

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Dumpling with Quail Egg

This ochazuke was really good. This has eel in it and IK just gobbled it up. quite refreshing on a rainy day like this.

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Eel Ochazuke

Ochazuke is pretty much tea and rice with a few pickles. love it.

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Some more kushiyaki from the set.

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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

Rating 13/20

Address

179-1 Zaimokucho Nakagyo-ku Kyoto Kyoto

 

Roan Kikunoi Kyoto 木屋町店

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.

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Roan Kikunoi Kiyamachi

We were greeted by a lady and were led to our counter seats. We were shown the menu with english and also in Japanese.

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English Menu

Japanese menu here.

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Japanese Menu

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.

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Fresh uni Tofu, light soy sauce gel with Wasabi and Wakame Seaweed.

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.

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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

All the chefs were working hard.

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Chefs at work

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.

 

 

 

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Tai (red sea bream), Hamo (pike conger), curled cucumber, wasabi, ume sauce.

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.

 

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Next was a soup dish. Tougan, shrimp dumpling, kidney bean, kinome herb sauce, ginger.

Next was using the same fish before, Hamo, cucumber, wakame salad. It must be cucumber season as alot of dishes had cucumber in it.

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Hamo, cucumber, wakame salad

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.

 

 

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Grilled miso-marinated flatfish with yuzu

Also came with some Rice with Hamo, Japanese pickles and another soup Gobou soup. The chef here was getting the rice out.

 

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Chef 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.

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Lastly we had a Yatsuhashi icrecream, warabi mochi which is quite famous in kyoto. IK loved mochi.

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Yatsuhashi icrecream, warabi mochi

Once we were done, we were given some toothpicks which looked like they were hand cut.

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Toothpicks

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!
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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.

Rating 18/20

118 Saitocho Kiyamachidori 40-jo Sagaru
Shimogyu-ku, Kyoto 600-8012
Kyoto Prefecture
Japan
+81 75 361 5580
http://kikunoi.jp/english/store/roan/

 

Kinoe Yakiniku Kyoto

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.

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Kinoe Frontage

They had huge barrels of Hakushu whiskys as well. hmmmm

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Hakushu Distillery

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.

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Kinoe Menu

Ordered a tap beer to start.

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Tap Beer

Came with 3 sauces as well. The waiters are pretty good, they tell you which course is for which sauce.

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Sauces

An appetizer course with some beef and fat.

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Beef Appetiser

We specially ordered a serve of yukke as it seemed famous on the menu.

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Yukke

Then we were served with some salad with japanese dressing.

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Salad 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.

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First 2 pieces of omi beef

We were a bit worried as we are usually used to huge portions. Here comes another 2 pieces.

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More beef

Don’t forget some veggies as well. Corn and Zucchini.

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Corn & 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.

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Beef with garlic chips

This one is marinated which was also very nice.

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Marinated beef

Another dish of marinated beef.

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more marinated beef

Had some lettuce to wrap the beef up as well.

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Lettuce

Also some asparagus, tomato and beans with some mayo and miso sauce.

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Vegies.

Had to order a Hakushu High Ball which was delicious

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Hakushu High Ball

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.

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Beef that 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.

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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.

Rating 14.5/20

Yakiniku Dining Kinoe URL: http://s.openrice.com/UbKSEG3x48500

Add.: 34-1, Tojiji-cho, Oshikoji-dori Yanaginobanba Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Kyoto Imperial Palace Tel.: 075-211-2991

 

Westin Miyako Hotel Kyoto

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.

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Luggage room

The living room of our suite with our welcome drink and snacks.

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Junior Suite living room

I actually sore this sake at the convenient store and it was pretty cheap. Maybe 500 starpoints next time!

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Welcome drink and snacks

As with all SPG beds I find them quite consistent and comfortable. It was a large king sized bed.

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The Bed

There were 2 TVs in the suite – I thought the TV was a bit small but hardly watched any TV anyway.

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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.

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Separate bathroom

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.

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Bathtub and shower

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.

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Westin Lounge Kyoto

The views you get were quite nice looking over the mountains and the town.

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Kyoto view from the hotel

My favourite beer in Japan. Yebisu Malts.

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Yebisu Malts

Came with some canapes which they bring it out to you.

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Lounge Canapes

Upstairs also had a small collection of books which you can read. Mostly in Japanese.

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Collection of Books

Another view of the upstairs lounge.

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Lounge Upstairs

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.

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Japanese Breakfast sign

Located at the Shisan restaurant which was pretty big as well. I doubt it will ever have full capacity here.

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Shian Restaurant

There were these couch seats that we opted for.

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Couch seats

The decor was nice in here.

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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.

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Japanese breakfast

Tofu and fish. Japanese cook fish so damn well.
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Tofu, leek in a broth. Have it with the below sauce as well.

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Japanese Pickles are a must with ume, daikon and some other pickles. Goes well with rice. Also had some small white bait

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I don’t know what this is, but it was some sticky dish with fish cake or something in it? It was nice nevertheless.

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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.

Map of The Westin Miyako Kyoto

Rating 14.5/20

ANA Business Class Sydney to Tokyo Haneda

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.

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Staggered Business Class ANA

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.

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My seat

Typical plane remote, USB and AC socket and lights.

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Another view of the ANA business class seat. DSC_1286 (Large)

I didn’t think the Loccatine set was that good. Looked cheap bu came with the bare essentials as pictured below.

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Typical flat seats and the controls, also includes lumbar support which is great!

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Seat Controls

The screen was really good i thought. It was right in front of you and was i reckon 20 inches

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TV Screen

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.

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I started off with a champagne which was Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie Brut from France

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Drinks Menu

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.
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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.

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Food Menu

This was the champagne served in this sort of glass.

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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.

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Japanese Meal

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.

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Western food option

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.

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Watching EURO 2016 Live

IK ordered some ice-cream after her disappointing meal.

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Ice-cream

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.

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Ippudo Ramen

In the toilet, there were also some spare toothbrushes, masks, face&body sheet (wipes i’d imagine) which was nice.

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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.

 

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Tea& Fruit

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!

Air New Zealand Lounge Review

Trip Reviews

  1. Air New Zealand Lounge Sydney
  2. ANA Business Class Sydney to Tokyo Haneda
  3. Roan Kikunoi Kyoto Review
  4. St Regis Osaka
  5. JAL First Class Lounge Review & Cathay Business & First Class Lounge Review
  6. 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.

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Entrance

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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.

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Inside NZ lounge

Good buffet spread compared to AMEX lounge. There was also a long bar where you can order tap beer and basic spirits.

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Also has a kids play area which is nice when you got noisy children.

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kids play area

Includes hot, cold dishes, salads, fruits, desserts etc.
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We sat in these chairs which had an ottoman and you could recline.

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NZ seating

You also get good Tarmac views of our plane. Love the blue.

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our ANA Plane

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.

Next up – Our Flight review!