Japanese wagyu, Four Seasons BKK and a Greek feast on the waterfront

A Japanese wagyu chef, an American single malt distiller and a Bangkok Four Seasons director walk into a bar…

It sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? 

Well, it’s when only the bar itself isn’t true, you realise what a strange, fascinating week we’ve had. 

With Christina meeting wagyu chef extraordinaire Hisato Hamada, me lunching with Director of Comms and Public Relations Daniel Schacter of the newly opened Four Seasons Bangkok and the both of us catching up with Head Distiller, Blender and Partner at Westward Whiskey in Portland OR, Miles Munroe, it’s felt like the needle’s finally starting to return to centre.

And this is only the half of it.

We hope you enjoy this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

Hisato Hamada - Wagyumafia at the Star Sydney with Christina Butcher

This morning, Christina is at the Star in Pyrmont with renowned wagyu masterchef Hisato Hamada. Hisato is here to over-see the build of his latest wagyu restaurant Mashi no Mashi, meaning ‘eat more and more’ Japanese. 

Incredibly, humble, Hisato tells Christina about how he never really had any interest in cooking or in wagyu for that matter. His background is in the film industry, but discovered his love of food around a decade ago.

All of his restaurants—including Wagyumafia in Tokyo—champion family-owned wagyu beef farms that produce some of the finest meat in the world. All of the wagyu Hisato will serve at Mashi no Mashi Sydney will be coming from a single producer in Japan.

Wagyu gyoza from Hisato Hamada Wagyumafia

After her interview, which you’ll be able to read here soon, Christina’s served some of Hisato’s gyoza. These are wagyu gyoza and Christina confidently reported back they’re easily the best beef gyoza she’s ever tasted. 

Looking forward to when Mashi no Mashi opens in Pyrmont in the next month or so.

Hemant Samtani of Lodge Bar, Balmain

This evening, just after her hair appointment with Stevie English, Christina and I are out for a couple of drinks in Balmain. We always like to take her new hair out, and tonight, we’re at The Lodge Bar—a great little cocktail bar run by energy ball and mixologist Hemant Samtani.

The drinks come thick and fast, and the atmosphere tonight is fun and lively—exactly as it should be in a cool spot like this.

Jalapino poppers and slow cooked brisket burger at Cantina BalmainJim at Cantina Bar Balmain

After a few more cocktails than we were planning, we head to our dinner plans at Cantina Bar just up the street.

We’re all full of gin from The Lodge, so we don’t go mad on the food; just a brisket burger and jalapeño poppers… and a margarita of course!

The photo of me was Christina’s idea by the way.

Puffy bread and jamon at Totti's Sydney

Today I’m flying solo while Christina takes care of some Hair Romance business elsewhere. I’m at lunch with the excellent Jane Corbett-Jones at Totti’s in the city. Their signature puffy bread is still impressive, and the prosciutto crudo they serve here is excellent.

We’re here with a medley of fascinating folk from the travel media industry thanks to Director of Comms and PR at the newly opened Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok at Chao Phraya River Daniel Schacter. 

This new Four Seasons has just taken out top spot in Thailand for Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2022 with its BKK Social bar. BKK Social is also #10 in all of Asia as well as winning Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award 2022.

Ice cream sandwiches at Totti's Sydney

As lunch winds down (it’s been about three and a half hours of solid eating!) dessert of ice cream sandwiches comes out. We also get to inspect our goodie bags that Dan has gifted us with. Inside is a premix cocktail from BKK Social Club and even better, the opportunity to stay at Four Seasons Bangkok next time we’re in Bangkok.

Christina and I are looking at a trip back to Europe in August, so now there’s a reason for a stop-over in one of our favourite capital cities on the way!

Christina at Priceline event

This morning, Christina is out at the first Priceline event to run since 2019. Every six months, Priceline runs a kind of mini conference for media and those in the hair and cosmetics industry, where prominent figures speak about where Priceline—and the industry as a whole—is moving.

There are also 50 brands here to showcase their new products and even better, Christina is able to reconnect with friends and colleagues she hasn’t seen for over three years thanks to the pandemic.

You can see more about what Christina got up to here on her Hair Romance Instagram feed.

Cabana Bar Sydney

Today, we’re back in town for a lunch with some friends and fellow digital travel writers—in particular Paula Morgan from Sydney Expert and Marianne Rogerson from Mum on the Move—at Cabana Bar in Martin Place.

It’s a pretty cool spot for lunch, two floor above the street and overlooking the MLC Centre.

food at Cabana Bar, Sydney - barramundi tacos, cheeseburger, wedges, prawn roll and chicken laab chow bao

Food and drinks here at Cabana are pretty reasonable and well-made. My cheeseburger is surprisingly good—though I do end up with a bit of food envy seeing some other tables with their orders of schnitzel. 

Christina’s barramundi tacos are huge and delicious (though she’s wisely ordered a side of potato wedges with sour cream and chilli sauce that take us back to the early 2000s.

Sky Bar at Shell House Sydney

After lunch but before we all go our separate ways, a few of us decide to check out a bar we’ve all been talking about over lunch—not that we weren’t happy at Cabana Bar!

But Sky Bar at Shell House on Margaret Street near Wynyard is in another league.

The decor here is so beautiful—a mix of lounge, art deco and modern tropical—and as the name suggests, the views are just as good.

Cocktails at Sky Bar in Shell House Sydney

Pretty much 360º vistas all around the city bring in so much light to this somewhat undiscovered rooftop bar. This is an Instagrammer’s playground, yet thankfully it’s still clearly off many of their radars. To the point where drinks prices here are quite sensible and really well-made.

A new favourite for us I think—plus there’s a large smoking area that I might be visiting with a cigar at some point soon.

Doss House speakeasy in the Rocks

Our next stop this evening is to the Doss House in the Rocks. We’ve tried to come here before but ended getting side-tracked by a martini bar along the way.

This is exactly what an underground speakeasy in the Rocks should be: vintage styling, bare timber floors, exposed sandstone walls, low ceilings and tiny doorways. It’s like stepping through a time portal here. It’s excellent.

Westward masterclass in the Doss House, Sydney

But we’re here for more than just the decor: our old pal Miles Munroe is back in town.

Miles is the head distiller, head blender and partner of Westward Whiskey, a single malt distillers in Portland Oregon. We met Miles years ago, where we did a rare interview with him. It’s great to see Miles again and learn more about this unique single malt.

Westward Whiskey special release Belgian Ardennes from Portland Oregon

Because Westward Distillery and many of its staff—including Miles and its founder Thomas Mooney—comes from brewing, the whiskey is made using brewer’s yeast instead of regular distilling yeast. The difference this makes is extraordinary.

There’s probably no better example of this than in Westward’s limited release Belgian Ardennes Single Malt, which is made with Belgian beer yeast. Completely changes its flavour profile.

Ploos restaurant, the Rocks

Our final stop for the night is right on the waterfront between two of Sydney’s—if not the whole country’s—most recognisable icons: the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

We’re having dinner here at Ploós—Greek fine-dining in one of the most incredible locations in Sydney right on Campbells Cove in amongst the row of iconic heritage listed sandstone warehouses looking out over million-dollar views.

Ploos restaurant food - halloumi, slow cooked lamb cigars, octopus, potatoes and duck

Grilled halloumi, slow-cooked lamb cigars, octopus with taramasalata, roast potatoes and twice-cooked duck

Ploós means ‘a voyage’ in Greek. And this restaurant, its menus and its chef Peter Conistis, who pioneered Grecian cuisine in Australia, certainly takes you on a journey to the South Aegean. 

The seafood here is, of course, delicious. The octopus and taramasalata are delicate and perfectly crafted as you’d expect from a menu inspired by the islands of Santorini and Crete. But the roast potatoes and twice-cooked duck with its poached quince and dittany are real highlights too. 

Ploos - sardines with Christina and Jim

And as for the sardines with labne and salmon roe, it’s a dish that takes us straight back to Greece—and even has me hiding behind my cutlery!

If you’re looking for a very special venue for a romantic meal, a celebration dinner or family gathering, Ploós is an incredible option.

This is one of those parts of the city that’s for some reason often overlooked even though it’s got such amazing views, is so close to everything and is home to one of the best places to dine in the city. 

Christina spraying Champagne

We hope you enjoyed this Weekly Edition.

Cheers – Jim & Christina xx

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