InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Tokyo, Japan

Having landed at Narita Airport at the start of my 3rd Japan trip, I jumped on the next Keisei Skyliner for Nippori Station where I transferred to the Yamanote line arriving at Hamamatsucho Station just in time for the last shuttle bus to my hotel.

I wanted to stay in Tokyo rather than Narita as I wanted to hit the ground running the next day to get the logistics sorted. Most importantly I wanted to be near either Tokyo or Shinagawa station as I needed to exchange my JR Pass, reserve a seat for my transit to Kyoto and finally board the Shinkansen.

I’ve stayed at both of the InterContinental Hotels in Tokyo before but it made more sense for me to overnight at the InterContinental Tokyo Bay as it had the shuttle buses to both Hamamatsucho and Shinagawa stations, and I had more than enough IHG rewards points for a free night.

The only downside is the hotel is a little off the beaten track, and probably a 10 or 15 minute walk to restaurant area around Hamamatsucho Station. Which isn’t that much fun in a hot Tokyo summer.

I was upgraded to a suite of the same design as my last stay. The room was magnificent and a great place to relax after travelling for around 15 hours.

Check-in and check-out was efficient and staff ever pleasant.

Great hotel!

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Garden State Hotel, Melbourne, Australia

I don’t normally walk along Flinders Lane but have now been here two weeks in a row after Supernormal last week.

A couple of us decided to head out for a beer after work and a friend chose the Garden State Hotel on Flinders Lane.

Given the proximity to Collins Street the place was heaving when I arrived just before 6pm on a Thursday night.

The venue is a sprawling place over 4 levels with a couple of bars to grab drinks from.

We managed to nab a table down the back towards the Rose Garden under the trees, it was a very nice location and there was a standard choice of beers and a bar menu.

We decided to eat here but we should have known the meal wouldn’t be overly good when we ordered our steaks medium-rare only to be told we’d get them how the chef decided to cook them! Seriously, WTF? For $22 we got an overcooked minute steak that was quite underwhelming. The only saving grace were the Roasted Potatoes.

The way the place has been built, with bare concrete walls and glass roof made the place an echo chamber so it was impossible to have a conversation over the noise of everyone else and the blaring music.

So after we finished our food we decided that we’d move onto somewhere where you could actually talk to the person next to you.

By all means, go to the Garden State Hotel for drink, but I’d be skipping the food!

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The Elysian Whisky Bar, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia

Are you a Whisky fan? Do you like tasting gems that you’ll probably never see again. If you answered yes to both of these then you should jump on the number 11 tram and head down to Brunswick Street Fitzroy.

Elysian was started by a couple of folk who used to work at Whisky and Alement in the city and rather than stock the same whiskies that everyone else does, the Elysian team strive to stock the bar with unique and limited edition bottles.

While we perused the extensive menu we started with a decent local pale ale by Hawkers Beer.

But it wasn’t too long until we started our tour of whiskies of the world.

First stop was a Japanese blended malt – Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve. A splendid drop to start the evening with. See https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/ichiros-malt-mizunara-wood-reserve-whisky/.

We then moved Scotland for a 17 year old single malt from Gordon & MacPhail. The Ledaig 1999 Connoisseurs Choice was had subtle flavours followed by a very smoky aftertaste. See https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/tobermory/ledaig-1999-bottled-2015-connoisseurs-choice-gordon-and-macphail-whisky/.

We back tracked to India once I saw an Amrut on the list. We ordered an Amrut single cask 888 a very dark whisky with a very fruity smell and taste – almost reminded me of a sticky. I particularly liked this drop. See https://www.thewhiskycompany.com.au/product/amrut-cask-888-virgin-oak-matured-indian-single-cask-whisky/.

Lastly we headed over to the US for a Noah’s Mill small batch bourbon. It’s a blend of whiskeys from 4 to 20 years old. It was a contrast to what we’d been drinking and took me back to my uni days. A decent nip to finish of the evening. See https://www.masterofmalt.com/Whiskies/noahs-mill-whisky/.

There’s a small kitchen that serves a small number of dishes to accompany your drinks. We shared the cured meat selection which would have been the size of a entree.

If you love unique whiskies then you should make your way to Elysian.

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Supernormal, Melbourne, Australia

Supernormal, on Flinders Lane, has been buzzing everytime I’d walked past it.

A number of my former colleagues and I try to catch up for a meal occasionally to talk about the old times, and where our lives are going.

That means finding a place to eat that can cater for a) a gluten intolerant, b) a fish hater, and c) someone who doesn’t like chili. It’s an adventure just to find a place!

But Supernormal went out of their way to ensure we all had a great meal. Most restaurants, if you ordered a banquet and then reeled off a list of restrictions would fire back with a quick, terse no variations, but our waiter took note of everything we said, and as the courses were served throughout the evening ensured that there was a personal replacement dish to cater for every dietary quirk!

Dishes served in the banquet included:

  • Red emperor, white soy & pickled wakame
  • White cut chicken, tofu dressing, cashew, noodles & chilli
  • New England Lobster roll
  • Prawn & chicken dumplings, chilli & vinegar sauce
  • Slow cooked szechuan lamb, spring onion pancake, coriander paste
  • Peanut butter parfait, salted caramel & soft chocolate

We got in early, about 6pm and the place was already almost full, I guess people eating early before heading out to a show. They won’t seat you until a majority of your party is present. And throughout the evening there was a constant stream of people pass through. Later on, they had to start turning people away. Very popular.

For $65 a head we had a great banquet in which we were all able to share, and the service was top notch.

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Ah Yat Kitchen, Food Republic, Capitol Piazza, Singapore

Several months back I visited Ah Yat Kitchen the the Capitol Piazza in Singapore and swore I’d be returning.

And so I was walking into the Capitol Piazza for lunch on New Years Eve and down the escalator to Food Republic.

The food at Ah Yat Kitchen is Hong Kong dumpling, the selection is wide and varied, and the taste is pretty damn good.

Today I wanted to have a meal rather than a snack so ordered 3 dishes that were then freshly cooked for me, and about 10 minutes later the buzzer went off for me to collect my meal.

I’m a sucker for duck on any day of the week so when I saw the option for rice with roast pork and duck I knew what one of my dishes would be. I also love dumplings so ordered a serve of Shrimp Dumplings and a serve of Shanghai Pork Dumplings.

All of the dishes were sublime. It was a decent sized meal and I was definitely full afterwards.

After this amazing lunch I headed up for a beer at TAP.

Love this place!

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