Spur of the moment food trips are sometimes the best.

This spur of the moment trip happened to be one of the ultimate travel culinary highs that I’ve ever experienced, and I’m going to share it all with you in this blog post.

Chef Hiroyuki Sato
Chef Hiroyuki Sato – a master of sushi!

Here’s what happened.

I get a message from my friend David – The Hungry Tourist.

He’s one of the most genuine food and people lovers, as well as food connectors, that I know – and he’s at the top of his game when it comes to the best of the best, and the ultimate quality of everything he eats.

In the message, David said something along the lines of:

I’ve organized a food pop-up that’s going to include the BEST Kobe beef and sushi from Japan, flown down to Phuket at Sri Panwa hotel, can you make it?

A day later, my wife and I were on a flight from Bangkok to Phuket.

It was the food opportunity of a lifetime!

Sri Panwa Phuket
Sri Panwa – One of the most luxurious hotels in Phuket!

We arrived to Sri Panwa, located on a southern cape of Phuket, it’s known to be one of the most exclusive hotels in all of Phuket.

Since Sri Panwa is so hilly, you are transported from building to building by little mini trucks, like oversized tuktuks. It adds to the experience.

Sri Panwa Phuket
My wife and I got a garden villa

After checking in, we settled into our garden villa.

The room was clean and modern, being semi-minimalist, while having everything you could possibly need and more, all within the villa.

One of the best things about the villa:

The private swimming pool, and not just any swimming pool, but a saltwater swimming pool. I sat in the pool for hours at a time without my eyes ever hurting from any chlorine.

Sri Panwa Baba Nest
Baba Nest rooftop bar at Sri Panwa

So the way the food pop-up worked is that it took place for 2 nights, so the first night was sushi, and the second night, Kobe beef. My excitement was at a peak.

Before our sushi meal, which little did I know would be the best sushi meal I’ve ever had and give me a new perspective on sushi, I met up with David at Baba Nest at Sri Panwa.

Baba Nest is a world renowned rooftop bar, known for its views, which are nothing short of breathtaking.

Otoro – Fatty tuna, one of the single best bites I’ve ever had

Master Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Sato

Master Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Sato is one of the most renowned and up and coming sushi masters of Japan.

His restaurant in Tokyo, Sushi Tokami is a Michelin starred restaurant. In the Japan Times review of his restaurant, they mention that he demonstrates creativity and knowledge in choosing some of Japan’s finest fish.

Also, Chef Hiroyuki Sato is just such a friendly nice guy.

Chef Hiroyuki Sato
The signature beginning hand roll from Chef Hiroyuki Sato

We sat down for sushi, and before I even knew it, chef handed me a tossaki (some part of tuna from the neck) minced in a hand roll with seaweed.

The seaweed collapsed and was so crisp, the minced fish melted on my tongue like ice cream melts, and the rice was lightly soured to balance it.

uni roll
Uni – beautiful sea urchin

That was the beginning of 22 pieces of the best sushi I’ve ever had.

The attention to detail, the temperature of the fish and rice (which is of huge importance), and watching Chef Hiroyuki Sato make each piece of sushi, and personally hand it to you, is what made it so special.

We can’t cover all the courses here, or you’d be scrolling for days, but a few of my favorite pieces were all pieces of the tuna, from red meat (akami) to the fatty tuna belly (otoro), the baby snapper, sea urchin, and rosy seabass.

I did not want the sushi to end, ever.

Sri Panwa
Southern Thai crab curry for breakfast

I literally dreamt about sushi that entire night.

Woke up in the morning at Sri Panwa, had a swim, and then had breakfast at the hotel. That was good too, including southern Thai crab curry – I can handle that for breakfast everyday!

Spent most of the day lazying around, and swimming in the saltwater pool, and hiking around Sri Panwa.

Kobe beef A5
3 kilo chunk of Kobe Beef A5 ribeye

Wagyu Mafia

The crew that makes up Wagyu Mafia are originally wagyu / Kobe beef dealers (just to clear it up, Kobe beef is from the Tajima strain of wagyu cow – so Kobe beef is a type of wagyu cattle).

Due to the demand for the beef they were buying, and their knowledge of wagyu beef, they decided to open an exclusive restaurant in Tokyo. They know Japanese beef better than just about anyone.

Along with a variety of wagyu parts and pieces from cattle breeds directly from farmers they personally know, they brought an entire 3 kilo hunk of Kobe Beef A5 ribeye (best of the best quality).

It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever touched.

Ozaki beef nigiri sushi
Ozaki beef nigiri sushi

In Japanese fashion, we enjoyed an omakase meal course, where the chefs serve you the best of the day.

Although every wagyu beef bit of the entire meal stood-out to me, and was beef like I never had before, something I still can’t get over is the oyster blade Ozaki beef nigiri sushi.

I can still vividly remember how it turned to liquid in my mouth without me even chewing.

Kobe beef
There it is, Kobe beef of dreams!

Then came the Kobe beef ribeye (Kobe Beef A5 BMS11).

It was baked in a wood fire oven until the outside was dark and smoky but the inside was bloody and red.

Kobe beef A5
A taste of this beef could bring anyone to tears!

The beef was the purest, softest, and most flavorsome piece of meat I’ve ever tasted. It was immaculate and perfect, without the need of anything to enhance it.

Again, an omakase sushi meal by Master Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Sato and courses of wagyu Kobe beef by Wagyu Mafia, were two of the most gourmet, high quality, and precise meals I’ve ever had.

Both truly care about the ingredients they serve, and know how prepare them in a way that magnifies their natural tastes and textures.

And on top of the amazing food, both Chef Hiroyuki Sato and the crew from Wagyu Mafia, are all just extremely friendly and fun to hang out with.

watch the video

If you have a few minutes, press play to watch the video of this sushi and Kobe beef meal and Sri Panwa!

(If you can’t see the video, watch it on YouTube here)

Sri Panwa hotel
Sushi and Kobe beef pop-up at Sri Panwa!


I was invited for a spur of the moment trip by my friend David, who organized a Japanese sushi and Kobe beef pop-up at Sri Panwa Hotel in Phuket.

The first night sushi was served, straight from Japan by Master Sushi Chef Hiroyuki Sato. The quality and care of his sushi making was astounding.

The next evening, I had a Kobe beef meal from Wagyu Mafia. The Kobe beef A5 ribeye was enough to make anyone cry tears of joy.

It was a gourmet food opportunity of a lifetime, and it was a huge honor to be invited.

Thank you to Khun Wan and all the staff from Sri Panwa, David Califa, and the chefs for this amazing event.

DISCLOSURE: I was invited to attend this event. I did not pay for the food or my stay at Sri Panwa, but I was not paid to write this, and I chose to post this article (and video). All thoughts and opinions are my own.