When you walk into Ocean Room, you’re immediate struck by the effect of hundreds of bamboo hung from the ceiling; it’s quite wondrous actually, especially (I’m told) when a breeze comes through.
It also has a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, including some pretty tasty cocktails. I had the recommended Fig and Apricot Sour, which consisted of Chivas Regal 12, apricot brandy, house made ﬁg jam, and lemon juice – topped off with a dried apricot. I’m a bit of a light-weight and with not much in my stomach, it very nearly went to my head! But I’m sure for “normal” people, this delicious, almost thickly sweet and tart drink would go down very smoothly.
It’s a pity that I only got to try one drink, but Ocean Room has a 2-for-1 cocktail hour every evening from 6pm, so I get to try more drinks!
At first glance, Executive Chef Raita Noda’s new tasting menu seemed pretty staggering with the amount of courses (12! How will they all fit in my belly?!) and rather interesting, as there were some unusual component combinations amongst some more familiar ones. So without further ado, let’s see just unusual these courses got.
Our first course, “Kaki”, is freshly shucked Sydney rock oyster with Guinness, myoga and Yamazaki silk.
The oysters were creamy, salty and I think there was a teensy-weensy hint of spice. I still haven’t converted to being an oyster fan like F has, where one of my gripes about it is that sometimes it can taste too briny (yes, I know how lame that sounds). It was great that these oysters weren’t too briny, but I don’t think I’m sold on oysters just yet.
The “Ochazuke” was such an unusual dish – the “broth” was cold-drip dashi and premium gyokuro green tea with Koshihikari rice crust, ﬂame seared latchet, umeboshi sorbet and finished off with a bit of wasabi dust around the rim.
It was also a very unusual and complex tasting dish, but quite refreshingly light despite the umeboshi’s punchy flavour.
Though because the dish is a conical shape, a tiny dilemma developed: how do you finish off that last bit of broth? Or do you just leave it? (Ever classy, I discreetly picked it up and drank from the dish – probably that was a no-no, but it was so delicious I didn’t want to waste any of it!)
“Maguro” presentation was quite striking with its upright, crisp tomato chips, diced yellow ﬁn tuna, crystalised yuzu and Sicilian green olive and buﬀalo mozzarella drops. Then neatly in front, we had pickled root, avocado, soy “caviar” (or “pearls”) and French shallot.
We were told that the tomato chips could be used for mixing – kind of like a cracker with cheese, I guess, though I was a bit dubious because the chips were incredibly wafer thin and it probably would snap under the load of tuna I’d pack on. In the end, I used it to help push food onto my cutlery.
This dish was such an explosion of flavour – the tomato crisps, green olive and buffalo mozzarella drops were intense versions of their original selves – yet still maintained a wonderful balance of being too much and just enough for that pow factor.
I’m beginning to see a trend at Ocean Room – each dish is so creatively presented and so unusually too! I loved it whole-heartedly.
“Shinjo” continues this trend with a glorious mess of yuba angel hair, where underneath all that awesome crispiness were the fantastic house-made croquette and tiger prawn & calamari.
Despite that most of the components in this dish was fried, it was actually quite light and not at all oily.
There were literally gasps of delight when “Onsen” arrived at the table. Ocean Room is quite dimly lit, so the tea candle within the patterned column was rather magical.
It was also functional, as it heated the house-made anchovy & garlic bath – though word of warning, it can get quite hot! I learnt that the hard way, burning my tongue in an unguarded (*cough*unthinking*cough*) moment.
We have an autumn vegetable collection to dip into the anchovy and garlic bath with an adorable yaki-onigiri addition and spicy black shichimi for those whom want a bit of a kick.
The vegetables were cooked to crunchy perfection and the bath is a powerhouse of flavour.
The sashimi is naturally a seasonal selection and is the chef’s daily recommendation.
We had (I think, please correct me if I’m wrong) Yakari flathead, ōtoro, black kingfish and Tasmanian ocean trout.
And they were just… Wow. Each sashimi piece were so wonderfully fresh, delicate and beautifully prepared.
I adore shabushabu, so I was pretty excited to see this on the menu. In Chef Raita’s version, we were treated to wagyu beef, grilled tofu, a seasonal mix of vegetables, dashi consomme, and a side of lime chilli soy.
The wagyu was amazing and practically melt-in-your-mouth tender, but the soup was just superb – perfectly seasoned and had a wonderful depth. I secretly wished for some noodles and found some glass noodles coiled at the bottom – so ninja!
Oh my goodness, Ocean Room’s signature dish of grilled sweet miso cod ﬁllet with ginger risotto and orange miso was nothing short of spectacular.
The cod was simply perfection; divinely seasoned and so flaky. I kind of wished there was more, but in hindsight, it was just right – any more and it would too rich.
I was surprised, seeing my intense dislike of ginger, that I quite liked the ginger-infused risotto. Perhaps it was because the ginger was very restrained and not overpowering. Together with the cod… bliss!
I’m always amused by food presented in bags, especially at higher end restaurants. Not sure why, but maybe because it’s a bit weird to me.
My amusement took a backseat when our wait staff started to snip the tops off the bag to reveal a “steam bath” of simmered pork belly, melting tofu and yuzu chilli ponzu. Dang.
The pork just shone in this dish. Not only was it mind-blowingly tender and flooded my taste buds with salty, fatty goodness, it was really well-balanced with the rest of the components. By itself, it would have been a bit too decadent; the steamed vegetables cut through its richness.
The yuzu chilli ponzu was housed in a test tube and I was told that it had quite a bit of a kick (I was chicken and added just a drop).
Although the wagyu ﬂat iron steak with Tasmanian pepper jus, quinoa crusted king prawn with Americaine cream and agedashi taro potato of “Sansui” were presented quite separately, they were quite harmonious when eaten together.
I would have to say that I really enjoyed the wagyu the most. It was succulent and perfectly seasoned (goes without saying really), though I wouldn’t mind more of that pepper jus! The king prawn was scrumptiously crunchy, but I felt it and the taro potato were outdone by the wagyu.
Our penultimate course was the “Edo-Mae Sushi”: three authentic Tokyo-style nigiri sushi, which comes at the Chef’s daily recommendation.
We had tuna, something I didn’t quite catch, and ocean trout.
It was a little odd to get sushi in terms of dish progression, but I didn’t mind too much – the sushi were simplicity at its best.
I normally welcome dessert with open arms and a second stomach, but I must admit that I was a bit wary of “Amaguri” due to an awful experience with a mont blanc.
I really glad that it wasn’t at all like when I had it last and quite enjoyed this version of mont blanc. Maybe because it was also served with green tea angel cake, spiced ice cream, chestnut puree and cognac persimmon (surprisingly, I quite liked this too even though I can’t appreciate cognac).
True to Japanese cuisine, dessert wasn’t an achingly sugary affair, but had just enough sweetness to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Chef Raita’s new 12-course tasting menu is $120, which is pretty good value for so many great dishes. The food itself is actually quite light, so you wouldn’t be too uncomfortably food afterwards.
Ocean Room has a gorgeous view of the Sydney Opera House. However, being located in the Overseas Passenger Terminal, the view does get blocked whenever a cruise ship comes in to dock. But don’t worry, they will call you if your meal plans happen to fall on such a day and ask if you’d like to re-book.
es&t dined as a guest of Wasamedia.
Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9252 9585