Robb Interview: Mate Rimac, CEO Bugatti Rimac

The Croatian entrepreneur and Rimac founder is driving the historic French marque – and wider auto industry – into the future.

By Ben Oliver 22/12/2021

Mate Rimac sat at a table, facing a camera. To his right was Oliver Blume, the CEO of Porsche, and to his left its finance chief, Lutz Meschke. They were about to host a video conference to announce the deal to merge Bugatti, for which Porsche has responsibility within the vast Volkswagen Group, with Rimac’s eponymous start-up hypercar maker. A small number of journalists from the business media joined Robb Report on the call, among them the Financial Times and Bloomberg. Blume and Meschke were dressed in sober business attire, as you’d expect of German C-suite executives making a major announcement to the world’s press, and they sat stiff and upright. But as the 33-year-old Rimac relaxed into his chair, his sneakers emerged from beneath the table, followed by a pair of bare legs. The wunderkind of the hypercar world was about to be handed control of one of its most fabled marques, and he’d chosen to wear shorts for the occasion.

Rimac doubtless meant no disrespect, but his casual dress served as useful visual shorthand for a transfer of power extraordinary even by the turbulent standards of the supercar industry. Stewardship of arguably the world’s most prestigious marque, founded 112 years ago by one of the great automotive auteurs and maker of some of the most beautiful, powerful cars ever to grace the road, was passing from Europe’s largest manufacturing company to a start-up that began in a tiny nation 12 years ago by someone then barely out of his teens. Later that evening there would be a glossy event livestreamed from the spectacular 14th-century Lovrijenac fortress perched high over beautiful, ancient Dubrovnik and the opal waters of Croatia’s Adriatic coast. Rimac (his name is pronounced MAH-tay REE-mats) leapt on stage to acknowledge the significance of what was happening and the responsibility he was assuming. He was now wearing a well-cut suit but still kept the sneakers.

Sports Cars on Track

From left: A Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo, a Rimac Nevera and a Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport, a fitting troika. Rimac Automobili

Despite his youth, Rimac is already acknowledged by his peers as one of the preeminent modern supercar makers, a successor to Ettore Bugatti alongside Horacio Pagani, Christian von Koenigsegg and Gordon Murray. The club of engineers who have created the cars and companies that carry their names from scratch is exclusive, and Rimac had only officially joined it when the Bugatti deal was announced in early July. The Rimac Nevera, his first proper production electric hypercar, was tested by Robb Report and a handful of other media in June, and customer deliveries are just starting.

But Rimac is already an established player. While developing his own hypercar, he has built a multibillion-dollar business supplying his high-performance electric-propulsion technology to at least 15 major carmakers, including Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Rimac’s fellow auteur Christian von Koenigsegg. Porsche and Hyundai are not only customers but also investors with significant equity stakes, and Pininfarina likes the Nevera so much that it’s using the car as the basis of its new 1400kW Battista. His business has grown so fast that Rimac simply hasn’t had time to get his own hypercar on sale until now.

The optics of the Bugatti-Rimac merger may seem odd at first, but the logic is indisputable. A new generation of electric Bugattis needs a transcendent level of performance, but Volkswagen has lost the will to fund it. Big car companies can spend like the US military. Analysts estimate that VW has invested at least approx. $3.2 billion in Bugatti since it took control in 1998 and lost around $6.86 million on every Veyron sold. It spent about $575 million creating the Chiron from the bones of the Veyron, and sources close to the deal say VW expected to spend the same again electrifying this 16-year-old platform.

Rimac is said to have offered to develop an all-new Chiron successor for around $330 million. Rather than write a check for that sum, VW proposed a merger. No cash is believed to have changed hands. The new Bugatti-Rimac will be 55 per cent owned by the Rimac Group and 45 per cent by Porsche, on behalf of Volkswagen. For now, the two brands will continue to be designed and built separately: Bugattis in Molsheim, France, and Rimacs from 2023 at its new campus headquarters near Zagreb.

Rimac Automobili Campus

The Rimac campus, set to be completed in 2023 outside the Croatian capital of Zagreb, will be the company’s global headquarters. Rimac Automobili

Rimac is putting only his hypercar-making business into the new joint venture. His fast-growing operation supplying high-performance EV power trains and other equipment to the global carmakers is a separate business: Rimac Technology, solely owned by Rimac Group. Only 150 Neveras will be made, and Bugatti currently builds fewer than 100 cars each year. Even when the combined Bugatti-Rimac is at full production, the venture will account for only 15 to 20 per cent of Rimac Group turnover. Rimac Technology will make up the rest, and it’s about to grow rapidly. It has contracts in place to supply major premium carmakers with components and complete power trains for the high-performance variants of their pure-electric models. With volumes of up to 100,000 each year, it’s a huge leap in scale for Rimac. Your next car might not be a Nevera, but there’s a chance it will have Rimac tech on board.

Rimac remains the largest shareholder in the Rimac Group, with a 37 per cent stake. The latest funding round is believed to value the group in the mid-single-digit billions, giving him a nominal net worth of around $2.7 billion. In addition to Porsche AG’s 45 per cent stake in Bugatti-Rimac, Porsche’s venture-capital arm owns 24 per cent of Rimac Group, giving Porsche indirect majority ownership of Bugatti-Rimac. But Porsche is clear that there is no combination of voting rights, no de facto or de jure control, and that having Rimac as CEO of all three companies is one of the reasons it wanted the deal. “As a shareholder we want a real entrepreneur as CEO,” Blume says. “It is our clear strategy to pass operational control to Mate.”

Rimac Nevera Assembly Line

The new Rimac Nevera assembly line in Croatia, where Rimac Group is based. Rimac Automobili

Perhaps most strikingly, the deal means that despite that storied history, a 10-figure investment by VW over 23 years of ownership and hundreds of Veyrons and Chirons delivered, Bugatti is valued at less than Rimac’s Nevera-making operation alone, which is only just beginning to deliver customer cars. The reason is simple: Bugatti is almost worthless without the ultrahigh-performance electric power train it will need in the EV age.

Volkswagen doesn’t want to make the investment required to develop one. Rimac has one already. Without it, VW was seriously considering putting the Bugatti brand into cold storage.

Even by the hyper-compressed standards of the young entrepreneurs remaking the modern world, this has been a wild few months for Mate Rimac. First the launch of the Nevera in June, then the Bugatti announcement in early July and, later that same month, marriage to his childhood sweetheart. Then a tour of the US, starting in Los Angeles and Pebble Beach in August, to meet not only customers for his approx. $3.29 million Nevera but also Bugatti’s established clientele, who might be a little wary of both the brand’s transition to electric propulsion and its youthful new boss. Next he headed back to Zagreb to complete the transfer of power from Bugatti’s current CEO, the urbane Stephan Winkelmann, who also heads Lamborghini. Then he’ll continue the process of creating a successor for the Chiron.

“This year, just as you say, it’s like everything is coming together. It’s just f—— insane for me,” he tells me from New York. I’ve spoken with him several times over the past, mad few months: first spending a relaxed couple of days with him on the bleak but beautiful Croatian island of Pag, where he launched the Nevera, and later on that conference call. He looks tired now, after his fierce travel schedule. But he is typically generous with his time, disarmingly honest, asking questions as well as answering them, and generally personable, approachable, funny and human: atypical, perhaps, for a tech entrepreneur.

Every cent of that $2.7 billion net worth is self-made. Rimac was born in Bosnia to an ethnically Croatian family of migrant construction workers, a tradition of exodus accelerated by the vicious conflict that raged as Yugoslavia disintegrated. Rimac moved to Germany at age 2 and then to an independent Croatia in his early teens, where he was teased for his hick Bosnian accent. But his talent for electronic engineering was spotted and encouraged by a teacher, and by age 18 he had registered a couple of patents and won a national prize for an early example of wearable tech: a “glove” that recognized hand gestures and could be used instead of a mouse. It’s still on display in a cabinet at Rimac’s HQ.

Rimac liked cars as much as gadgets and bought a battered BMW 3 Series, as it was the cheapest way to get a rear-wheel-drive car that he could race and drift. His best friend, Goran, inadvertently gave a multibillion-dollar business its start when he blew the BMW’s engine, prompting its 20-year-old owner to combine his two passions and replace the gas engine with an electric motor. It worked okay but not well enough for Rimac, who pulled it out again and tinkered with it, beginning a constant process of obsessive iterative improvement over 13 years, which he admits drives him and his staff crazy but has now resulted in his owning the best high-performance EV propulsion tech in the world. And most of Bugatti.

I ask him to define what makes Rimac stand apart—what has brought so many established carmakers to Croatia in search of a way to make a fast EV quickly?

“Look at the Nevera,” he says. “Almost everything in it was developed internally. This is what makes us different. There is no other car company that has developed so many things in a car by themselves. And the second thing is execution. There are many other start-ups working on their cars. Many of them have existed longer than us, and all of them have more funding than us. But we are the first after Tesla who finished the car and started production. Execution is everything.

“And we do it for a fraction of the cost of others. It’s not because Croatian salaries are lower. It’s because we do things very differently from the other carmakers. And lastly, of course, it’s performance. There’s nobody even close to us.”

Rimac Nevera Monocoque

The Rimac Nevera monocoque, the biggest and stiffest single piece of carbon fibre in the automotive industry. Rimac Automobili

This is demonstrably true. In August a Nevera was independently tested at the Famoso dragstrip in California. The Bugatti Chiron Sport held the previous world production-car acceleration record, covering the quarter-mile in 9.4 seconds. The 1427kW Nevera ate up Famoso’s sticky tarmac in just 8.582 seconds at a terminal velocity of 268km/h. That 0.8 second difference is a lifetime in these matters: Now combustion engines will never catch up. The Tesla Model S Plaid faced off against the Nevera in three races a few days later and, though it also beat the Chiron’s time, as promised, with a top time of 9.272 seconds, it was a long way behind the Nevera.

The Nevera’s stellar price automatically puts it in the beyond-premium segment of the car market, and while it’s surprisingly comfortable and practical for something with such terrifying performance, it was never intended to be a luxury good. Bugatti is different, though, and this young, egalitarian, unpretentious electronic engineer is now in control of one of the world’s great luxury brands. The glamour of running a marque like Bugatti and delivering a luxury customer experience doesn’t seem to drive him; the question of whether he has plans to reinvent super-premium motoring as comprehensively as he has reinvented electric performance cars remains.

“For me, it’s more about cars and ecology,” he says. “For the Nevera, luxury was not really a concern: It’s more about tech and performance. Luxury is much more important to Bugatti. That’s why I think the two brands can coexist. Over the last 20 years, no other car had Bugatti’s performance. That’s what made them special. Then came craftsmanship, quality and details, but number one was performance. But now performance is increasingly commoditized. You have a five-seat sedan like the Model S being faster-accelerating than pretty much anything else on the road. So what puts you at the top of the pyramid in the future? Is it really just performance?

“Of course we’ll still do hypercars for Bugatti. We are working on a Chiron successor. But looking at Bugattis of the past, there haven’t been only sports cars. When performance alone is no longer the top selling point, what puts you at the pinnacle? Is it still a two-seat, rear-engine hypercar? Or might there be something else? There’s an opportunity for Bugatti in the future to have very interesting cars that are completely different to other models on the market, while Rimac remains a maker of very high-performance sports cars. But we haven’t figured that out ourselves yet.”

The details haven’t been officially confirmed, but there will be two all-new Bugattis engineered by Rimac before 2030. The first will be a 1491kW, two-seat hybrid hypercar, due around 2025. The Chiron’s 8.0-litre W-16 engine shorn of its four turbos will make half of that power and a Rimac electric-drive system the rest. Next comes a pure EV by 2030. From his hints, we may reasonably expect a four-door grand coupe to differentiate it from future Rimacs and to continue where Bugatti’s fabulous but ill-fated Royale of the 1930s left off.

Rimac will be involved in every aspect of their design. While his fellow Croat Adriano Mudri heads the company’s design department and Rimac’s specific expertise is in electric power trains, he obsesses over every aspect of his car’s design in the broadest sense.

 

 

Rimac Nevera Chassis

The hypercar’s 4-motor drivetrain and 120 kwh battery pack. Rimac Automobili

“With a car, everything is important,” he says. “I define every little detail. The company is still very dependent on me for that, but I don’t think that’s good. I think that’s a personal failure.”

It’s clearly the cars, their design and engineering, and the environment that enthuse him. And given the tiny volumes in which his own cars will be made, his attention may begin to turn to some unexpected new projects where the ecological benefit is greater.

“I love hypercars. I love doing this stuff,” he says. “But in reality, it has a low impact on society. Electrification is an important step, but on its own it’s not going to save the world. I believe there are much bigger levers. In automotive terms, the big impact comes from new mobility, and we want to be a significant part of it. It doesn’t mean that we will stop doing what we are doing now, but for the last few years we’ve been working on a robot taxi service and the whole ecosystem around it. I don’t want to say too much about it. I’d rather do it and then show it. But you’ll see it early next year.”

His fellow supercar auteurs may be glad to see Rimac’s intellect and energy distracted by more pedestrian projects, though at this level there’s little conventional rivalry: Many of their customers can simply buy every model that interests them, and the marques are as likely to collaborate as compete. “It has been amazing to follow and support Mate’s rise,” says Christian von Koenigsegg, whose Regera uses Rimac’s batteries. “He has stayed true to his calling since a young age. For sure it was a big bet for us to trust such a young company and founder as a supplier. Neither Mate nor myself are traditional engineers, as we don’t have academic engineering backgrounds, but are more self-taught. I even think this might be a prerequisite for what we do as we are less limited in our thinking, and by working together we showed the big boys there is a new era coming.

“Bugatti always prided itself on being a part of a large group,” he continues. “We at Koenigsegg have always taken pride in standing on our own two feet. Now Bugatti has been taken over by a similar company with a similar philosophy to us, so now the extreme-sports car producers are more stand-alone than before. That’s a big shift. It’s interesting how the world changes.”

The world might be moving Rimac’s way, but there’s still risk. Those big contracts and the Bugatti deal make funding easy now, but he has to scale up fast, delivering power trains in far higher volumes than before and to perfect, German premium-marque quality levels from job one. By his own admission, he also has to make the business less dependent on him and maintain the energy and agility of a start-up while acquiring the scope of a proper, grown-up business. As even Elon Musk can attest, that’s not easy.

From New York, Rimac tells me that he has been looking at the stock tickers in Times Square and thinking again about an IPO. He doesn’t want to do it until he is shipping Neveras, fulfilling those new bigger contracts, has built his $240 million campus headquarters near Zagreb for the 2,500 employees he will have by 2023 and has revenues in the approx. $822 million range, which will happen rather earlier.

He wonders if he made a mistake in not going public sooner. “This is my first job, you know?” he says. “I don’t know how many things I’m doing good, or how many things I’m doing very badly. I guess there must be both.” Given Rimac’s current valuation of around $8.23 billion, and potentially much more if the robotaxi bet comes in, his investors and the major carmakers seem to think he’s doing okay. Maybe he’ll wear shorts when he finally rings the Nasdaq opening bell.

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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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