We stayed at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel for the duration of my half business half pleasure work play trip in Cairns, and for the week we had various foods from the hotel restaurant and catering, starting every day with a delicious breakfast at the buffet!
I absolutely loved the breakfast buffet, and so when we extended our stay, we got breakfast with our room extension as well. Most breakfast items you could think of are available here, including even Chinese congee and Japanese miso soup.
There is an egg station in the middle where a staff helps cook eggs to your liking. I didn’t try that because there’s often a queue, and I was quite happy with their buffet egg options — fried available on all days and scrambled in different texture on different days.
We had the hotel catering for the conference, and the food quality was exceptional. There were different foods on the three days for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, with hot foods, cold foods, finger foods, desserts, fruits, and some vegetarian and gluten free options available.
The only annoying thing was how efficient they were at clearing everything as soon as another session of talks started. What were we the exhibitors meant to eat and drink when we actually had free time? But seriously, best conference food ever.
We had a light, buffet style reception dinner on the first night by the pooldeck. There were salads, 5 or 6 hot dishes such as rump steak (perfect pink), sausages and potatoes, and desserts (panna cotta, chocolate mousse cake, lemon curd tart and mini pavlova) that even appealed to someone without a sweet tooth like me. No pictures because it was quite dark at the event, and I didn’t want to risk dropping my phone into the pool.
The conference dinner in the Grand Ballroom on the Saturday night was $135 per person, and most conference delegates, sponsors and guests attended the event. The food quality was decent, but the quantity simply couldn’t possibly satisfy me. There was also live band entertainment that also wasn’t my thing (wrong era, wrong genre, volume too high). I guess this dinner was more about the social than the meal itself.
Overall, I’m very happy with the food at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel. It’s definitely a choice if you want to impress and for the most part had made work more pleasant for me.
QF924, Qantas Sydney-to-Cairns domestic 3-hour short-haul flight. I decided to play safe and continued to sign up for the fruit platter. I got my special meal before the others, as usual.
Not so much a platter but an apple and a banana in a box (and a soy milk that I never bother). I guess at least I got to eat before all the turbulence.
The normal flight breakfast was a choice between a tortilla and a cereal. Richard picked the scrambled egg and bacon tortilla.
Small but looked nice and handmade according to the box, but also quite chewy and stuck to Richard’s teeth.
They served a snack almost immediately after the first trays were cleared. I wondered why they bothered instead of doing both breakfast and snack in one go.
Our snack, the chocolate biscuits, looked like… Well.
Richard: Did you want to say “neatly wrapped poop”?
Everything I didn’t eat looked more exciting (neatly wrapped poop is exciting), but I didn’t regret sticking to my two-ingredient special meal. Let’s see what they have for me on my return flight.
In true foodie spirit, I took a picture of almost every course I ate at the hotel we stayed at for the ski trip, and split the food section into this entry of its own! As mentioned in the post for Hotel Oak Forest (ホテル オークフォレスト) itself, the meals included in our ski package were daily Western breakfast, and Western plus Japanese style dinner.
There’s one individual hot breakfast dish every morning on top of a buffet section with common Western foods such as salad, cereal, bread, coffee, milk and juice.
The Western breakfast buffet:
Turned out I didn’t even need to fruit up, because there’s one available at the buffet every morning. It was oranges on most days, and pineapples (beautifully presented in pineapple peel boats) and grapefruits on others. I was very happy with their breakfast options, but I may be biased because I’m a caffeine addict and this time I didn’t have to supply my own coffee every morning.
The Western breakfast hot dishes:
The hot dish was a combination of sausages/ham/bacon and scrambled eggs/omelette.
We had dinner at the place on all but the last night (where we went out to town to have yakiniku). I thought the dinner servings were small at first, but got used to it eventually and riced up as appropriate.
Unlike breakfast where the individual dishes were served as soon as you’re seated, the next course of the five-course dinners wasn’t served until everyone at the same table has finished their previous. White rice, green tea and water were available as self-service. Other rooms who opted for the Japanese dinners have their kaiseki meal arranged on their table before their arrival.
For our five-course dinners, there’s always the sashimi salad as the first course, a soup, a seafood entree, a main meat dish with a broccoli floret, mashed potatoes and three pieces of carrot, and last a dessert. On several nights Richard ordered a beer with his dinner, which was added to the room bill as extra charges that we paid at checkout.
First taste of the food at Hotel Oak Forest. We had a salad with three very thin slices of salmon sashimi, a mushroom broth, a small piece of mackerel with a small piece of daikon radish, pork with a white mushroom sauce, and a dessert that tasted like light cheese with whipped cream on top.
I didn’t mind the mackerel too much even though both Richard and I thought there were far better ways to prepare fish than cooking it through the way they did. The pudding was quite tasty once you knew what to expect from the second mouthful on.
Second night, we had an octopus sashimi salad, pasta soup, fried crab claws, chicken, and some sort of processed/preserved apple slices.
The fried crab claws turned out to be the best seafood entree of all nights.
Third night, it’s a very fishy sashimi salad, an almost creamy soup, white fish fillet in tomato sauce, an unnaturally tender beef (I think) steak, and a small slice of apple cake.
Richard said the super fishy sashimi salad reminded him of fishing baits and didn’t touch that course. I wasn’t a huge fan either, but adopted his plate anyway because food was scarce.
Fourth night, it was back to the salmon salad for the first course again, which had us worried that there were only three dinner sets on rotation and we’d exhausted their options. Following the salad this night, though, was an again almost creamy corn soup, mackerel in miso sauce, chicken, and a jelly.
Fifth and last dinner at the hotel for us, it was calamari sashimi salad, pasta soup, white fish fillet, beef, and back to the processed/preserved apple slices.
I still haven’t figured out what they did to the beef and apples.
Breakfast was awesome; dinner less so but decent. The strangest thing overall with the meals offered was the meat. You could never quite tell on first bite that “Oh yeah, that’s beef/pork/chicken.” It’s almost always like a mystery meat of sorts. Food presentation was excellent, but sadly one can’t ski on visual excellence; I could really use bigger portions for dinner. I guess at least you could have as much rice as you wanted.
Hotel Address: Japan 〒399-9301 Nagano-ken, Kitaazumi-gun, Hakuba-mura, Hokujō, 3549
The room was new and clean, and a lot bigger and nicer than my expectations; the air-conditioning was certainly appreciated! The resort was quiet most of the time as well, with the exception of that screeching noise from next door when they used the shower.
The highlight for me was the breakfast buffet (of course!). Well, our package didn’t come with it, but we added it at check-in for $19 per person ($17 if booked ahead through the websites?). It was nice to pig out before heading out for the day.
It is nice to pig out whatever and whenever. It’s good to live in the first world.
Overall, it’s a very comfortable stay. We didn’t use any of the other facilities like the sauna room, swimming pool (possibly closed when we visited), tennis court or game room. Maybe next time?
Even more dining out this month! Not going to bother with writing separate entries because I didn’t have any pictures or too much to say about these places.
1 March 2014: Our movie started early so we didn’t have time to grab dinner until after it. We went to Thai Passion nearby. There was a lot of food on the menu that we wanted to try, but we decided to share the Jungle Curry and the BBQ Chicken with a serving of white rice. The chicken was okay, but the curry was very watery and despite the chilli symbol next to the menu item, it wasn’t spicy and didn’t even seem to have much spices in it. We both agreed that it’s not the best Thai we’ve ever had, but at least I really enjoyed my company.
7 March 2014: Richard recommends the breakfast at Vintage Point at Gymea, so even though I’m not normally a breakfast eater, I thought I would try it. We both ordered the Halloumi Stack with Poached Eggs that came with delicious vegetables on toasted sourdough bread. It was beautifully presented and very delicious.
[revisit] 23 March 2014: We revisited Vintage Point for breakfast without any protest from me because I really liked it last time. This time I ordered the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and he got the Breakfast Platter with scrambled eggs. My dish was delightful like last time. Richard couldn’t finish his plate, but not to worry, Vickie to the rescue! Something looked different, though. Did they rename the restaurant?
22 March 2014: Another movie night for us, this time we decided to try the Vietnamese restaurant, Rice Paper. Richard has previously been here and really liked their fish cakes, which they seemed to have taken off the menu so I didn’t get to try it. We ordered the Summer Rolls, Spicy Beef, and Chicken Lemongrass with Chilli Jam Paste to share. The food came out quickly and it was all right, but it was a very light dinner for me.
30 March 2014: Met a whole bunch of Richard’s friends for brunch at Imperial Peking, Blakehurst. Our table was pretty much the only one with non-Asians over there so that’s always a good sign. The food was your typical yum cha items served in bamboo steamer baskets, and it was tasty enough. We were able to both order from the menu as well as grab food off dim sum carts and trays. I think it came out to about $25 each for the 7 of us, which was very reasonable as well.