21 Things You Didn’t Know About Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce’s 116-year-old history is filled with ingenuity, innovation and opulence.

By Sean Evans, Bryan Hood 09/02/2022

Henry Royce spent two decades creating all manner of mechanical and electrical inventions before deciding to focus his energy on the automobile in 1904. The English engineer was convinced he could build far finer cars than those being built on the other side of the Channel in France, and was able to persuade his fellow countryman (and aristocrat) Charles Rolls he could do so. Two years later, in 1906, the duo partnered to launch Rolls-Royce and the rest is automotive history.

The British marque’s storied history is as fascinating as it is lengthy, rife with incredible moments of ingenuity, innovation and pure opulence stretching from its beginnings to the present day. Below, 21 of the most interesting facts from the marque’s 116-year history.

The first Rolls-Royce had 10 horsepower

Royce’s first creation, which made its debut in 1904, had a 1.8-litre two-cylinder that delivered 10 horsepower (7.45kW). The aptly named Royce 10 featured a three-bearing crank and twin camshafts that actuated the side exhaust and overhead valves. To get everything hauling, that mill was mated to a three-speed manual transmission.

 

1904 Rolls-Royce 10HP

1904 Rolls-Royce 10HP Rolls-Royce

The model for The Spirit of Ecstasy was shrouded in scandal

Rolls-Royce’s now iconic hood ornament, The Spirit of Ecstasy, debuted in 1911. It was commissioned by car collector Baron John Edward Scott-Montagu, who based the figure’s likeness on his secretary-turned-mistress, believed to be Eleanor Thornton. Earlier iterations of the sculpture have her finger pressed against her lips, reportedly a wink at their decade-long affair. Thornton perished at sea in 1915, en route to India, when a German U-boat sunk the ship she was travelling on. The sculptor of the statuette, Charles Sykes, adopted and evolved the design for Rolls-Royce, and it’s been employed ever since.

BMW shelled out tens of millions for the rights to the ornament

When BMW bought Rolls-Royce from Volkswagen back in 2002, the rights to The Spirit of Ecstasy were held by Volkswagen. Subsequently, Volkswagen requested approx. $56 million to transfer ownership to BMW, which agreed to the terms and paid the sizable sum.

The illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy

The illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy Rolls-Royce

The EU banned the illuminated Spirit of Ecstasy

The Spirit of Ecstasy may be the most famous hood ornament in automotive history. Because of that, Rolls-Royce hasn’t changed it much since it was first introduced. That is, until 2016, when the marque started offering the option of an illuminated ornament. If that sounds sacrilegious to you, you’re not alone. The lit-up Spirit of Ecstasy has since been banned in the EU. Is it because the government body is made up of automotive purists? It might be, but the official reason is that the illuminated ornament creates too much light pollution.

Over 60 per cent of all Rolls-Royces are still on the road

Rolls-Royce has always focused on crafting durable, enduring vehicles. The commitment to superior build quality has translated into a startling fact: At least 65 per cent of all Rolls-Royce cars ever to emerge from the production line are still operational and on the roads today.

The Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge.

Taking the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge for a ride through the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by Basem Wasef.

Rolls-Royce once made a .50 calibre machine gun

And it was rather revolutionary for its time. During World War II, the head of the Rolls-Royce engineering team, Dr. Spirito Mario Viale, sought to improve the efficacy of the staple machine gun, the Browning M2. The Rolls-Royce .50 cal featured a locked breech, in lieu of the typical gas mechanism, and it fired at double the rate of the M2 and weighed more than 40 per cent less. However, it jammed often and generated too much muzzle flash, so it never supplanted the Browning as the choice gun. One example is still known to exist, housed in the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, England.

A Rolls-Royce engine helped begin the 300-mph (482km/h) club

Last year, Bugatti set the automotive world aflutter when its Chiron hypercar, piloted by Andy Wallace, hit 490.4km/h. However, Rolls-Royce got to that enchanting speed first. Its 1715kW, 36.7-litre supercharged Rolls-Royce V-12 engines were known for blistering performance and staggering speed back in the 1930s. Indeed, the speed record was set in 1933 by Sir Malcolm Campbell, hitting 428.3km/h in the Campbell-Railton Blue Bird, powered by a Rolls-Royce V-12. In 1935, Campbell took the rudimentary land rocket to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and recorded a run of 484.94km/h.

Campbell-Railton Blue birdGoodwood Festival of Speed 2013, Chichester, West Sussex, Britain - 14 Jul 2013

The record-breaking Blue Bird at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013. Photo: Shutterstock

The brand’s plane engines were so powerful the exhaust alone bolstered top speed

Rolls-Royce was equally proficient in manufacturing prolific aviation engines, including the 27-litre Spitfire Merlin V-12, created in 1933. This engine generated such powerful thrust from the exhaust that when engineers simply angled the exhaust outlet backward, the Spitfire gained 16km/h.

Rolls-Royce’s electric plane is the world’s fastest EV

Rolls-Royce’s automobile and aeroplane divisions were spun off from one other in the early 1970s and now have separate owners. The two companies still share the same name, though, along with the same hunger for excellence. Just look at the electric plane the non-carmaking Rolls-Royce announced a couple years back. The battery-powered aircraft recently hit a top speed of 622km/h in testing, making it not just the fastest electric plane but the fastest electric vehicle, period.

Rolls-Royce the Spirit of Innovation

Rolls-Royce the Spirit of Innovation John M Dibbs/Rolls-Royce

You could only get a Phantom IV if you were a royal

As Rolls-Royce gained a deserved reputation for elegance throughout the 1930s and 1940s, it became the only choice for the world’s elite. This notion further solidified in 1950 when the British royal family parted ways with Daimler to select Rolls-Royce as its preferred car manufacturer. Then-Princess Elizabeth was the first to receive a Phantom IV, which became a model only designed for the royals and other heads of state. A mere 18 Phantom IV models were produced, making it among the rarest of the Rolls-Royce’s ever.

You can send your chauffeur to a Rolls-Royce driving school

The coveted seats in any Rolls-Royce are in the back and, accordingly, many owners opt for drivers. But for the most comfortable experience, they may want to consider splurging on Rolls-Royce’s White Glove training program. The curriculum trains drivers on how to open and close doors without leaving fingerprints, how to brake without moving the passengers’ heads, and how to read and drive a road for optimal smoothness.

Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, 1950-56, only 18 pieces were built exclusively for royalty and heads of state, BMW Museum, Munich, Upper Bavaria, Bavaria, GermanyVARIOUS

The Rolls-Royce Phantom IV, created in the 1950s Photo: imageBROKER/Shutterstock

Only bulls are used for Rolls-Royce’s leather interiors

Since sumptuous leather abounds in any Roller, ensuring that each inch is blemish-free is a requisite. Rolls-Royce does this by only sourcing from bulls since cows can get unwelcome stretch marks during pregnancy. Furthermore, those bulls only come from Europe where the higher altitudes mean fewer mosquitos and other insects, minimising bite marks.

One man paints all of Rolls-Royce’s pinstripes by hand

One pair of hands has been painting the pinstripes on all Rolls-Royce cars for the past 17 years, and they belong to Mark Court. Court has been doing this intricate work since the company opened its Goodwood plant in 2003. (It’s his only job, and reportedly earns him a six-figure salary.) Given the lack of room for error—the pinstripe paint is a unique variety that affixes instantly to the car’s paint, so mistakes result in the whole car needing repainting—it’s well-deserved.

Rolls Royce

A Rolls-Royce pinstripe hand-painted by Mark Court. Photo: Courtesy of Rolls Royce

The logo on Rolls-Royce wheels always remains completely upright

It’s the details that separate Rolls-Royce from everyone else. Just look at the wheels on every single vehicle that’s rolled off the line at Goodwood. You won’t really notice until you see the car in motion, and then it sticks out: The logo on the centre cap doesn’t move. That’s because each official Rolls-Royce rim features a special gyroscopic mechanism that stops the centre cap from rotating, thus ensuring the iconic RR monogram remains upright no matter what.

We don’t know how much the most expensive Rolls-Royce costs—but it’s probably the Boat Tail

We may not know the official price tag, or even the identity of its owner, but the most expensive Rolls-Royce of all time is almost certainly the Boat Tail. Inspired in part by the car that used to hold that title, 2017’s Sweptail, the gorgeous Azur Blue cabriolet measures 19 feet front to back. The nautical-themed vehicle features a tapered rear that calls to mind some of the stateliest cars of the 1920s, like the Auburn 851 Speedster and Bentley Speed Six Boat-Tail. Just as impressive is the list of one-of-a-kind accessories, which include dashboard clocks made by Bovet (more on those below), a champagne cooler, a unique crockery set by Christofle of Paris and a matching parasol.

The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail that debuted on May 27, 2021.

Rolls-Royce Boat Tail Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited.

Its Bovet dashboard clocks can be worn as wristwatches

It’s hard to pick which of the Boat Tail’s accessories are most impressive, but if we had to name just one, we’d have to go with the swappable dashboard clocks made by Swiss watchmaker Bovet. The brand crafted distinct timepieces for both the anonymous owner and his better half. Even more ingenious, though, is that they double as wristwatches. Thanks to the unique feature, the owner and his wife will never have to worry about matching their outfits to their one-of-a-kind car.

It takes at least two months to build a Phantom

Introduced in 2003, the Phantom was the first Rolls-Royce offering under BMW, and the numbers behind the production are staggering. More than 200 aluminium pieces and 300 alloy parts must be hand-welded. Upholstery requires 75 square metres of material and about 17 days to complete. More than 44,000 colours are offered, and it takes at least two months to complete one single vehicle.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Tempus.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Tempus. Photo: Courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited.

The embroidered headliner in the Falcon Wraith has over 250,000 stitches

Rolls-Royce is willing to go to great lengths to give its customers exactly what they want. Take, for example, the headliner in the Falcon Wraith. The stunning ceiling covering is decorated with an embroidered image of a peregrine falcon, a bird that can fly as fast as the car it adorns— 320km/h. The detailed image took over a month to conceive, design and complete, and consists of over 250,000 stitches. That’s far from the only breathtaking headliner you’ll find in a Rolls, though. The official Starlight option, which is available on all of the marque’s vehicles, features 1,340 optical fibres, ensuring you’ll get a clear look at the night sky no matter the time of day it is.

The Ghost is packed with 100kgs of sound-deadening material

The Ghost has long been lauded for its near-silent cabin. Rolls-Royce wanted to take things even further—or quieter—with the second iteration of its exquisite saloon. To do this, engineers came up with a new “Formula of Serenity,” which involved equipping the car with a rigid aluminium space frame that conducts less noise. Then they packed the car’s roof, trunk and floor with 100kg of sound-absorbing materials. The result is a ride so quiet and smooth you just might forget you’re in the back seat of a car.

The Rolls-Royce Falcon Wraith

The Falcon Wraith’s headliner Rolls-Royce

The Wraith Kryptos is filled with secret codes

The limited-edition Wraith Kryptos Collection comes with its very own encrypted cipher. Hidden throughout the luxe coupé are a series of encoded messages—found everywhere from the base of the Spirit of Ecstasy to the rear seat piping—which can be used to solve the final puzzle. The marque took pains to keep the answer a secret, too. At the time of the car’s launch it was locked away in a safe at Rolls-Royce headquarters and known to just two people—the vehicle’s designer and company’s chief executive.

The (one-time) owner of the world’s largest Rolls-Royce collection may surprise you

Clocking in at 93 Rolls-Royces, the largest collection of Rollers in history belonged to Bhagwan Rajneesh. If that name sounds familiar, he was the leader of a “spiritual movement,” eponymously called Rajneesh. He and his followers overran a small Oregon town back in the 1970s, all of which (including the Rolls-Royces) was recently showcased by Netflix’s documentary Wild, Wild Country.

Rajneesh Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh waves to the crowd from the backseat of his Rolls-Royce limousine after plea bargaining in Portland, Ore., federal court on two federal immigration charges, . Rajneesh changed his plea to guilty, received a 10-year suspended prison sentence, was fined $400,000 and agreed to leave the countryU.S. DEPORTATION RAJNEESH, PORTLAND, USA

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in the back of a Rolls-Royce from his car collection. Photo: Don Ryan/AP/Shutterstock

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The Tod’s SS25 Men’s Collection in Milan Was a Showcase of “Artisanal Intelligence”

It was also the debut men’s collection by creative director Matteo Tamburini.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

Earlier this week, Tod’s presented its SS25 men’s collection at the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) for Milan Fashion Week, where all eyes were fixed on Matteo Tamburini and his debut menswear collection as Tod’s newest creative director.

Striking “a balance between tradition and modernity”, was the former Bottega Veneta designer’s intention, and indeed his showcase offerered a spotlight on the quality, materials, and detailing that are central to the Tod’s wardrobe.

“The collection is more about subtraction rather than addition, highlighting the very elevated, timeless and relaxed materials,” says Tamburini via a statement.

Tod’s

In line with Tod’s restrained design codes, the garments presented were characterised by timelessness, unmistakable Italian flair, yet a casualness appropriate for everyday wear. Only the best leathers were used in the collection—thanks to the Pashmy project, which Tod’s unveiled in January to champion high-end Italian materials—used in creating garments like the Tod’s Bomber, the Gio Jacket, the Shirt Jacket, the Di Bag sack, as well as footwear staples, like the Tod’s T-Riviera.

Of course, the iconic Gommino driving shoe wasn’t without an update, too: you’ll find a new sabot interpretation, as well as the Bubble Gommino introduced in a new boat model with the T-bar accessory.

“Craftsmanship” was at the forefront of messaging, with chairman and chief executive officer of the Tod’s Group, Diego Della Valle, reiterating the message of honouring artisanal arts in an increasingly digital-first world.”[It’s] important to uphold artisanal intelligence, keeping under control artificial intelligence as it is now developing rapidly and powerfully,” he said via a statement.

“Individuals and artisanal intelligence at the centre, with its traditions and values, will contribute to keep artificial intelligence in check. Our Italian craftsmanship and supply chain can be an example of the combination of tradition and the new speed of artificial intelligence.”

tods.com

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Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed Men Cut Through the Noise With Personal Style

From vintage gems to tasteful tailoring, attendees of Florence’s biannual tradeshow brought their best sartorial selves.

By Naomi Rougeau, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Whether or not you’re well versed in the ins and outs of Pitti Uomo, the biannual menswear tradeshow in Florence that brings together buyers, press—and, naturally, a vast ostentation of peacocks—the chances are that photos from the gathering are still making their way into your newsfeed. You might even smirk at the mention of it. To be sure, you’ll encounter plenty of “overdressing” strolling through the main venues but by and large, great personal style manages to cut through the noise.

Part of what makes the Pitti scene so exciting is that menswear moves relatively slowly. It’s less about seeing something earth shatteringly new but rather gradual shifts and discovering fresh ways to put things together. Menswear regulars such as Alessandro Squarzi, owner of a considerable vintage archive that influences his Milanese boutique Fortela, can be relied upon to provide inspiration on how to make tried and true staples and silhouettes feel modern.

Speaking of new old things, vintage fashions made their way into the chat in a big way this June, whether in terms of rare finds or sustainable efforts via upcycling, fabric development and natural dyes (Paris-based De Bonne Facture achieved an ideal medium brown using coffee, for instance). At the heart of the conversation was another bona fide vintage guru Maurizio Donadi who made a case for the timelessness and democratic nature of indigo with his centuries-spanning exhibit of antique garments from around the globe.

Below you’ll find a dozen of our favorite looks from Pitti Uomo 106, lensed by our eagle-eyed street-style photographer Lorenzo Sodi. We hope they inspire.

Lorenzo Sodi

A lesson in simplicity and the power of a classic palette—good quality vintage accents such as a turquoise embellished belt buckle add interest to timeless workwear. Ray-Ban’s universally-flattering Wayfarer sunglasses are the perfect finishing touch.

Lorenzo Sodi

Sans suit and shirt, the neckerchief (of which there were many at Pitti), adds a welcome dose of colour to a white tee and relaxed jacket and proves that sometimes one choice detail is all it takes. A well-loved, slightly-too-long belt and canvas Vans contribute to the casual harmony.

Lorenzo Sodi

Whatever the weather, you’ll find Douglas Cordeaux, from Fox Brothers, looking immaculate in shirt and tie… and a suit made of one of Fox’s many fabrics. British elegance, embodied.

Lorenzo Sodi

Relaxed elegance is the foundation of the Brunello Cuccinelli brand. Here, the maestro himself shows us how it’s done in a double-breasted linen ensemble featuring a few personal flourishes.

Lorenzo Sodi

Designer Alessandro Pirounis of Pirounis offers a masterclass on the rule of three with a contemporary twist, subbing the usual jacket with an overshirt of his own design.

Lorenzo Sodi

A renaissance man takes Florence. True to his roots, US Marine veteran, Savile Row-trained tailor and photographer Robert Spangle blazes a sartorial trail that’s all his own.

Lorenzo Sodi

Cream trousers are an essential element of elegant Italian summer style. Designer Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis channels one of the greats (Marcello Mastroianni) in a dark polo of his own design, collar spread wide across his jacket’s lapel for a welcome retro lean.

Lorenzo Sodi

Proof of the power of tonal dressing, that can create an impactful outfit just by sticking to the same colour family. A chic ensemble and in some ways an elevated version of the double-denim look, every element is working hard in service to the whole.

Lorenzo Sodi

UK-based stylist Tom Stubbs has long been a proponent of blousy pleats, lengthy db jackets, and statement-making neck scarves and here, in vintage Armani, he embodies the louche, oversize look that many designers are just now catching up on.

Lorenzo Sodi

A tailor splitting his time between Berlin and Cologne, Maximilian Mogg is known for his strong-shouldered, architectural suiting. Yet in Mogg’s hands, particularly with this non-traditional colour scheme, the effect is always modern and youthful.

Lorenzo Sodi

If Max Poglia’s relaxed Hawaiian shirt and suit combo is any indication, summer has truly arrived. But it’s an excellent example of how to wearing tailoring in more casual fashion. This cream db would look perfect with shirt and tie at a wedding in August and just as chic here with slippers and a laid-back shirt.

Lorenzo Sodi

Another example of how tailoring can be laid-back and breezy for summer, from a dude who looks no stranger to enjoying the best of the warmer months. Jaunty pocket square, sandals, untucked linen shirt…go forth and emulate.

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The 13 Best Watches From Pitti Uomo, From Rolex to Patek Philippe and Piaget

Each year in Florence, Italy, men walk the streets in the finest fashions, and they pair their watches perfectly.

By Allen Farmelo, Lorenzo Sodi 20/06/2024

Pitti Uomo is a major fashion gathering in Florence, Italy where brands bring their best to buyers and fashion editor alike. But, perhaps more interestingly, Pitti Uomo transforms the streets of Florence into an urban runway on which guys from around the world with more than a passing interest in style go about their business—even if in some cases that business seems just to be hanging around waiting to be photographed—in their best threads and, of course, some excellent watches.

We pondered the relationship between men’s fashion and watches in more detail earlier this year, and what’s fascinating about the intersection of fashion and watches is how to situate the timepiece within an ensemble. To give you a sense of how that plays out, this year we saw a tonal pairing of a tasty vintage Rolex GMT Master Pepsi (red and blue) with rose and mid-blue summer plaid, and we saw high-waisted military green Bermuda shorts paired intelligently with a beat up old Elgin field watch with a matching green strap. Both looks were killer, the watches working as perfect accents, and there are many more great pairings to consider below.

As is often the case at fashion shows (including Pitti Uomo in previous years), Rolex dominated. Horological snobs might look down on this choice because the Crown is so often the default choice for so many, be they collectors signalling their access to rare references or those just getting into this obsession. But a more nuanced read on this tendency is that Rollies are fabulously versatile watches that one can rock with each new outfit—which some men will swap throughout the day. Breakfast might call for a casual look, lunch something more daring, and dinner that perfect summer suit. What better than a Rolex for all occasions?

But it wasn’t just Rolex at Pitti Uomo this week. The urban catwalk brought out Paiget, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and Cartier, as well. But our favourite watch was a vintage Tudor Sub on a turquoise bracelet.

Below are the 13 best watches from Pitit Uomo 2024.

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The 10 Best Omakase in Sydney

Sydney’s best Japanese chef’s-table dining experiences.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 06/06/2024

In Japan, where food is a cultural art form, omakase stands for traditional Japanese foods made with seasonal ingredients. A good omakase meal, prepared with purity and mindfulness, can make an unforgettable imprint on the culinary memory. Yet in a land defined by seasonal traditions, omakase is a relatively new concept.

Omakase originated in Japan in the 1970s as affluent Japanese began to dine more regularly at first-rate sushi counters. Bowing to the expertise of the sushi master, omakase loosely translates to “I’ll leave it to you.” In a setting where money is no object, letting the chef decide was designed as a chic way to take the awkwardness out of ordering.

In Australia where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, omakase menus have experienced a recent rise in popularity. Today omakase is any series of small dishes served directly by the chef to the diner. Each part of the meal is presented on beautiful ceramics and lacquer wear, with a great —and somewhat— intimidating reverence for elegant details. It’s a chance to see a chef’s knife skills up close and get a feel for their cooking style.

Omakase menus are based on whatever is freshest at the market and can be influenced by the chef’s mood, expertise, and response to the guest. They can be slowly paced like a ceremony—hushed and reverential—but they can also be rowdy, humorous, and personal.
Here we give you 10 of the best to try in Sydney.

Yoshi’s Omakase at Nobu Crown Sydney

Crown Sydney, Level 2/1 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo. Open: 12–3 pm, 5:30–9:30 pm Phone: 02 8871 7188 Reservations: F&B-SYD-Nobu@crownresorts.com.au; $380 per head (including matched wine and sake). Crownsydney.com.au

Sushi Oe

16/450 Miller St, Cammeray; Tue – Sat. SMS only 0451 9709 84 E: jizakana16@gmail.com Phone: 0426 233 984 $230 per head. jizakana.com.au

Kisuke with Yusuke Morita

50 Llankelly Place, Potts Point; Tuesday – Saturday: 17:30 – 10.45 (closed Sunday/ Monday) $185-200 per head Kisukepottspoint.com

Haco 

102/21 Alberta St, Sydney. Lunch, Friday to Saturday 12 -2:00 pm Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday 5:45 pm – 8:1 5pm (closed Sunday & Mondays) P: 0408 866 285                                     E: haco@hacosydney.com.au; $150 – $210 Hacosydney.com.au

Kuon

Shop 04 2/58 Little Hay St, Sydney, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12:30 pm. Dinner  Tue-Sun 5:15 pm or 7:45 pm sittings.  Reservation via SMS at 0488 688 252; $220 per head @kuon.omakase

Sokyo 

The Darling, Level G, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont. Open dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:45 pm P: 1800 700 700 $300 per head Sokyo.com.au

Kuro

368 Kent St, Sydney; Open Tue – Wed – Thur: 6 pm Fri & Sat: 5:30 pm P: 02 9262 1580, reservations@kurosydney.com $220 per head. Kurosydney.com;

Choji Omakase

Level 2, 228 Victoria Ave, Chatswood —upstairs from Choji Yakiniku. Every Monday to Wednesday at 6.30 pm. One seating per day only. $295 per head. Chojiomakase.com.au

Gold Class Daruma

The Grace Hotel, Level 1/77 York St, Sydney; 12–2:30 pm, 5:30–9.00 pm Phone: (02) 9262 1190 M: 0424 553 611 booking@goldclassdaruma.com.au·$120 – $150 per head Goldclassdaruma.com.au

Besuto

Besuto Omakase, Sydney Place precinct, 3 Underwood Street, Circular Quay. Omakase is available to book for dinner – Tuesday to Saturday. 5:30 pm & 8pm sittings. From $250. Besuto.com.au

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is no soy and wasabi offered during my omakase meal?
Even though sushi and sashimi are being served, the chef is serving each piece of sushi so quickly and directly that the chef is applying the wasabi and soy to the sushi themselves. Watch as they brush the top of the fish with soy and dab a tiny amount of wasabi on the rice, under the fish. You should not need to add extra, and in fact, it can be insulting to the chef to add more. Bathing the bottom of the rice of your sushi in soy sauce is considered bad manners, as it is seen as detracting from the flavour of the fish.

Nobu, Sydney

Can an omakase experience accommodate my dietary needs?
Although there is often little variation once the chef has set the daily menu, some customisation is possible. Advise the restaurant when you book and remind them of allergies or aversions again as you sit down. They will let you know when you book if your allergy is possible for the chef. Japanese menus feature a lot of seafood and dashi so accommodating a no seafood request can be genuinely tricky.

What are the golden rules for chopstick etiquette?
Use your chopstick holder in between eating, rather than putting chopsticks on your plate. Don’t use your chopsticks to gesticulate or point; if offering food to someone to try, never pass food directly from your chopsticks to theirs. Rather place the food onto a small plate and let them pick it up.
Never touch communal or shared food with your chopsticks. The longer, slightly larger chopsticks are like sharing cutlery, never put these in your mouth.

Without a menu, how can I know what I am eating during omakase?
Omakase is often a no-menu situation, and you are expected to try new things. Attending an omakase experience with an open, trusting mind yields the best results.
There are Wagyu and tempura omakase that reflect the chef’s personal predilections and training, but in a standard luxury omakase, the format will include a lot of freshly caught seafood and will usually kick off with a delicate appetiser. This will be followed by a sashimi and sushi course, a savoury egg custard (chawanmushi) with meat and seafood, a cooked or blow-torched market fish, a soup course, and dessert.

Can I talk to the chef during omakase? What is the protocol?
Guests at an omakase experience are welcome to ask questions of the chef; in fact, interacting with the chef is part of the experience. It is considered polite to ask questions or inquire about the food so they can explain.

What is best to pair with omakase  in terms of drinks?
In general, wine and sake are a perfect match for omakase. Aged fish and vinegar have strong umami flavours so depending on which course you enjoy, different wine and sake will pair well. Dry chilled sake is a great choice. Amazing sakes are imported into Australia, so trust the restaurant to advise you and take you on a sake journey at the same time.  If you don’t like sake, drinking chardonnay, a crisp young riesling, or even a dry complex Riesling is also totally acceptable. All three styles help bring out the flavour of the fish. Champagne can also be good. Try a blanc de blancs— 100% chardonnay —for a great way to start the meal. As you progress, remember that sake is good for dishes with a strong taste, such as uni and eel.

Nobu, Sydney

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The Sonos Ace Headphones Are Music to the Ears

The audio giant has (finally) revealed its foray in the personal listening category.

By Josh Bozin 20/06/2024

In the ever competitive market for premium headphones, few brands have captured the hearts (and ears) of audiophiles, professionals and enthusiasts alike. Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony, and even Apple come to mind when debating great audio brands in 2024. Then there’s Sonos.

For over 20 years, the American audio manufacturer has been lauded for its high-end capabilities, particularly in a home setting; Sonos changed the game for the integration of home entertainment. But it had yet to venture into the realm of headphones.

Until now. Earlier this month, the company marked its long-awaited entry into the personal-listening category, with the launch of its highly anticipated Sonos Ace over-ear headphones.

“Fans have asked us for years to bring the Sonos experience to headphones,”says Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos, “and we knew our first foray into the category needed to champion the type of innovation and sound experience Sonos has become synonymous with.”

Sonos

On paper, the Sonos Ace is an enticing proposition: a premium over-ear headphone featuring lossless and spatial audio, intuitive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), and Aware Mode. Most appealing, however, might be its new immersive home theatre offering; the Sonos Ace can pair to compatible Sonos soundbars with just a tap of a button. The new TrueCinema technology, which arrives later this year, will precisely map your entertainment space and then render a complete surround sound system for an unparalleled listening experience.

Sonos

Retailing at $699, they aren’t exactly cheap, and there more affordable headphones that compete with Sonos in terms of audio output and high-fidelity sound. But where Sonos thrives is in the details. Available in  stealthy black and pure white, the Sonos Ace are sleek and stylish right out of the box. Sure, there is some resemblance to the Apple Air Max Pro—arguably its greatest rival in the over-ear headphone segment—but Sonos has also added its own design touches, and it’s clear the Ace was made to look and feel as good as it sounds.

Its distinctive, slim profile elegantly blends metal accents with a sleek matte finish, and thanks to the use of lightweight, premium materials like memory foam and vegan leather, you get an airy fit that isn’t overbearing, even after extensive use. The design of the Sonos Ace is also intuitive; tactile buttons make controlling the headset a cinch, and pairing with Apple or Android devices is also straightforward. The dedicated Sonos App is also helpful for customising (somewhat) your listening experience, from altering EQ to turning on certain capabilities, like Head Tracking.

Sonos

It does fall short on a couple of key fronts.  I was expecting more from the Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) for over-ear headphones of this price point; there’s no way the ANC as it stands will filter out the sounds of a plane engine, for example. I also found the Sonos Ace has an issue, albeit subtle, with the mid-bass, which can sound muddy and lack punch at times.

But these are small nits. The Sonos Ace only adds to the company’s impressive standing as an unimpeachable innovator in the audio industry.

For more information, visit Sonos.

 

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