On most of the business trips, I tend to ‘window-shop’ and ‘sight-see’ from a moving vehicle between the office and the hotel. The routine and simplicity do not bother me. It is still going to work except in a different currency.
When I am done soaking up the quiet, I like to venture into the crowds and listen to the conversations of the local. It is my little way to taste the life of what it can be. Of what it might have been, perhaps. Then when I get lost in the massive underground train system or be rejected by cab drivers who do not like reading maps, I will just pretend to be a contestant in the amazing race.
It was my first time in Hotel Nikko Kansai. Minutes after you clear the Kansai immigration, you will arrive at this simple facility that stays true to the status as an airport hotel. Frankly, after hearing the dreadful stories from the co-workers, I was not exactly looking forward to the stay. Good thing, they were wrong.
The convenient location is ideal for transit travellers or those who need to stay close to the airport. You can reach the JR and local train stations in 5 minutes on foot, and the trains will bring you to Osaka downtown in 40 minutes. Oh from the guests I saw in the lobby, it is also a hit with tourists who wish to visit the Rinku Premium Factory Outlet. The free shuttle (with a gorgeous seaview on-route) helps!
Back to the accommodation.
Room is modestly appointed with a good sized bed for one. View is calm. Internet connection is a breeze. BBC World is the only English channel. Bathroom is stocked and underwhelming-ly decorated with a single stalk of plastic lily. Space is tight but overall rather comfortable. If I must have one complaint, the key card is printed with the name of the hotel and room number. Not much for security.
Then the colleagues warned me about the (lack of) food. If only they know how addicted I am to Japanese cuisine. The airport has plenty of choices and the restaurant in the hotel, Hanazato, serves up decent dishes too.
Sigh, I’ve got to stop talking about food.
Being a bore, I tend to dine in the same restaurants when I am overseas. In Shanghai, it will be Kazumi at Renaissance Yangtze.
It may not have the best of best sliced seafood or fine dining delicacies, the entire team always make it a point to make my visit most enjoyable. The staff is friendly but not intrusive. The thick sashimi is served cool and the cooked food is always hot. The head chef will replace what I don’t eat with my favourites. When I am alone, they will provide fresh reading material. Don’t be mistaken – I am not a big spender. A plate of sashimi and a piece of grilled cod do not really cover the night’s paycheck. When the folks are proud of what they do, they do it well.
Lucy, I can eat at least another portion of the below set!
One of the staff thought I should try one of the signature rolls. It was alright. Big portion but I am not a fan of fried shrimp (anymore). Too bad I don’t have a picture of the beautiful cod.
Looking forward to the next Japanese meal.
Yesterday, it was a dark dark day. My X1 lost consciousness right in my palm. After a painful resuscitation (over a delicious sashimi dinner), I crazily installed an update and it flat-lined again. I cannot understand my lack of sense or explain the sudden loss of simple intellect. Then spent the next two hours reloading and customising the plugins and settings. Achievement. Just when I’d switched off the lights to go to bed, I heard the dreadful beep for the third time. It had hard-resetted itself. Pain.
I woke up this morning to an actual dark foggy day. As soon as I began blaming the drizzle for the low visibility of the World Expo site from the Lupu bridge, we were stopped by guards along the quiet road. The grand locale is not available for commoners yet. I had been fooled by the hotel information booklet. Quite silly, now that I think about it. So the cab headed back to the hotel. He was kind to crawl on the bridge for me to peek and check out the pavillions. Through the damp window pane, they look lonely.
In the departure lounge surrounded by folks in warm lined coats with a horizonless view of the runway, one will never guess this is April in Shanghai.
Ready to board.
I admit that I only signed up for restaurantweek.sg because we have ran out of dining ideas. Organised by DiningCity, a select list of restaurants offer set meals at a discount. Good way to sample the menu and the chef’s taste, I say.
The idea is to visit an outlet that fits our general dining preference i.e. non-pretensious, sensible food, and reasonable prices. That way, if we do like the place, it will be a regular haunt. This round, we went for CM-PB.
Described as a trendy wining and dining at Dempsey where in the kitchen East meets West, it is a restaurant, a cafe, and also a bar with live bands. It is just too confusing for me. Almost like the owner is not sure what (else) will work in Dempsey, so why not include everything! With sino-lanterns hanging over the bar, jeans/shorts-clad staff serving delicately placed food, and a genre of music that I cannot recognize, it hurts to dine indoors. The outdoor seating area is very appealing, in that respect.
Back to the food. The menu was fixed for the event. Oh apparently photography1 was not allowed.
First up – Prawn and Butternut Soup. My initial reaction was – is that bubbles?! I might have squealed a little too loud but seriously, bubbles in a creamy soup? More like a broth, the thin soup was overwhelmed by the taste of prawns. You don’t taste anything other than that of prawn shells and salt. Bread was good. Well.
Being named after the restaurant, I had high hopes for the Contemporary Melting-Pot and Bar Salad. Again, the dressing was way too salty. Fresh seafood and crunchy leaves, granted. The Bonito flakes was an oddity for me. If the chef is trying to infuse some Japanese sense into the salad, he does not have to. Looks pretty though.
Normally, I like my cod steamed. The tiny portion of battered cod did not taste too bad! Finally something that was not salty. The cod maintained the distinctive taste and the crispy chips was well-seasoned. The salad dressing was too salty (erm yes) and wet. Wasabi mayonnaise was a very nice touch. It added a surprisingly and refreshing taste to the plate of fried food.
The Wagyu beef burger was the better entrée on the menu. Of course, I don’t know anything about beef but this was moist and surprisingly less gamey than expected. Foie gras was well seasoned and very tender. Thankfully, they did caramelise those onions, unlike those served to Paul. Thoroughly savoured.
Ahh the close of the meal was a standard cheesecake with strawberry compote. Nothing exceptional. I did appreciate that it was not too sweet. The pastry chef, I noticed, was indecisive. The plating was different for different tables. Just a side observation.
In all. Spending slightly more than S$100 for two persons was not at all disappointing. Though I would have preferred for a more conservative use of salt2, the overall dining experience was nice. The service was swift3 and always with a smile. I will return for a simple meal and relax over a pot of tea. Yes it is a bar but the frozen margarita served that night was a sham(e).
Those who care would already know about the pros and cons of the Micro Four-Thirds (or affectionately known as M4/3) system. In case you would like to read more, check out this article. Frankly, I only skimmed through the lengthy commentary. I don’t make a good article/book reviewer. If at all, the pictures made me laugh.
The creator of the pictures has since sold/gave away the M4/3. Tsk.