I love going to a restaurant that’s easy to recommend – it means that pretty much all the food is just so awesome, there’s virtually no compunction in telling you to fork out large sums of money for a meal at said restaurant. Ocean Room is one such restaurant. An establishment I believe should be hatted.
Located at The Rocks directly facing the Opera House, it’s alfresco dining, to be sure. That is, presuming you get the right seat. Even if you don’t, you will be too distracted by the food anyway.
I’m probably biased once again since it’s a Japanese restaurant, but bias is just a form of subjective opinion when it comes to food. I’m sure that as long as you like seafood, you will take to Ocean Room.
Date Visited: 22/10/2012
Address: Circular Quay West The Rocks, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: Saikyo miso cod
There’s two entrances to the place – from the Circular Quay side, as well as from The Rocks. If you enter from the latter you’ll be greeted by the bar.
Looks mighty impressive, but we’re here for the food. It comes in the form of a 12-course degustation which siphons $120 from your wallet. As you’ll soon see it’s $120 well spent. Oh btw, through many discount sites, you can easily get 20-30% off. I did, and ended up only paying $84 pp. For a seafood-heavy deg, that’s almost…value.
Ever seen a more unique way of serving oysters? The presentation is impeccable, no need to describe it.
- The oysters were surprisingly umami-rich, as opposed to the usual ocean flavour
- Overall flavours were generally light and tangy, the spiciness coming in at something that you taste just that little bit, but is fleeting
- Texturally brilliant, I could not ask for better oysters
What an ingredient list. Fish, green tea, rice crusts, sorbet, wasabi. The look of the dish already suggests that it’s going to assault you with cacophony of flavours and textures.
- Overall flavour of the dish is that of sweet tea and a whole lot of tang
- The fish was incredibly strong in its flavour – probably stronger than anything else on the night. The umami was intense
- Koshihikari rice is a cross breed of two native Japanese rices and is generally chosen for seafood accompaniments. There wasn’t much flavour to this after tasting the fish – recommendation is naturally to eat it all together
- The wasabi dust was more mustard-salty like, than wasabi. I didn’t mind that as I don’t like wasabi much anyway (shock horror)
A diminutively impressive dish that hosts some of the best maguro I’ve ever had. The waitress recommends that you wrap the tuna up in the nori and eat it sushi-style, though in practice I found that a little bit difficult.
- I’m at a loss for words because this tuna is just so damn good. The seasoning is incredible, the umami powerful, the spice just right. I haven’t had tuna that has this flavour anywhere else (or even close)
- Texture is top-notch as well, and the nori is a great accompaniment
Ocean Room is on a roll.
I didn’t like this dish very much, it was more of a throwback to the kinda deep fried stuff you can get at most places.
- The main issue is that it’s quite greasy, which is expected of fish cakes and these pastry parcels
- Second, I actually couldn’t taste much flavour in there. It was extremely light compared to all the dishes that came before it
- Great texture though – you can never say no to that crunch mmm
Can’t please ‘em all.
Bringing in a little bit of Italy into the mix, this pretty-looking dish has some interesting tasting notes.
- Acutely spicy is the first term I’d use to describhe it. Surprisingly so, really – the taste is nowhere as mellow as it looks.
- The ravioli doesn’t really blend in with the rest of the dish, but it still tastes great, and it’s super, SUPER soft.
- Seriously, cannot overstate how soft it is.
- The scallops were impeccable, as expected of Ocean Room by now
Overall I quite liked it, despite the clashing flavours.
You were wondering when the sashimi course was going to come up. Here it is. Considering the quality of the dishes earlier, one should not be surprised that the sashimi is superlative.
- The tuna was so good it was almost like tuna belly, I don’t think I’ve ever said that about tuna sashimi before. I wonder what their belly would be like…assuming it’s ever on the menu.
- Salmon was nice and fatty as usual – a real stalward of any sashimi collection
- The kingfish had texture that was almost like salmon – unusual, but appreciated
- As for the flathead, it was…alright. Got dwarfed by its bretheren.
Oh man, this is super awkward. It’s one of those dishes that are served in a teapot and I don’t have any pictures of the stuff inside the pot.
You’re not missing out much in terms of looks though – it just looks like a simple stew; lightly-coloured, semi-transparent consomme with pieces of crab and vegetables.
The taste on the other hand…
- That crab…so soft and flavoursome. I’ve found a way to enjoy crab other than the usual crab noodles
- The consomme is incredibly umami – indeed, it’s pretty much the definition since it’s dashi
- Vegetables were a bit boring, but they added critical crunchy texture which is never unwelcome
Very hearty in a rather light way! Mainly due to the fact that most of the previous dishes are served cold or luke-warm at best. This is the first hot dish we get.
We have arrived at my favourite dish of the night. Boy, it was hard selecting this one over all of the excellent dishes, as well as the yummy ones to come.
- The sweetest, most tender fish I’ve tasted in recent years. If it was just a little softer, I would call it perfection – there is literally no other way I can improve this fish. There was a similar dish at Yoshii, but I think Ocean Room completely owns the miso cod recipe at the moment. It cannot be beat.
- Goodness, even the risotto is great – super creamy, full of flavour! The risotto and fish don’t need to be eaten together – they’re both wonderful standalone
- My slightest nitpick was that the risotto is a bit hard at the centre. Inconsistency? It can’t be…
I want more!
They even mention the umami in the name of the course. Indeed, agedashi tofu is always a pillar hallmark of umami food. Putting what is very much a Chinese invention (mapo) into the mix sets it apart from those agedashi starters you get at so many Japanese restaurants.
- Texturally a winner – real tender and soft, skin firm.
- That sauce is…interesting. I can /sort of/ see where they’re coming from, calling it mapo and all that, though yes, it’s got more of a ponzu taste to it that’s definitely more umami than Chinese mapo
My bar for agedashi tofu has been raised. Uh oh.
I’m going to put down several pictures before I start this, to give you some context. By the way, any ideas what’s under that smoking glass?
Yes, it’s this. Still smoking even as it arrives onto the table.
Well now, the first decidedly Western dish on the menu, and it’s quite a stunner. The “two dimensional” part refers to the wagyu beef that’s been cooked two ways – one in the form of a steak, and one as a pie. Then there’s this random potato ball…okay.
- I gotta say the pie is kind of like a classy party pie. I really can’t give it much more than that. The mince inside tastes great, though tbh I really enjoy party pies you get at Coles in the same way. It’s good pie, but surprisingly non-fine dining like. Still, enjoyment is what counts and I did enjoy.
- Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the wagyu steak nearly as much – too many problems with texture and a rather lacklustre flavour made it average in the scheme of things. Great presentation though, with the smoke and all that.
- The potato ball…well you know, deep fried potato!
Woot woot! Hello, my favourite Japanese food. I was wondering when you were going to get here
- The kingfish is perfection
- Ocean trout – very spicy (you can sort of see it in the fish – middle). There’s shichimi peppers in there, and it’s a really good combination
- That tuna is once again almost like belly. Omg what is this, looks like I have to go to Ocean Room to fully enjoy tuna from now on. Sake & Sokyo, you have competition!
- Overall the construction of the nigiri is solid stuff, no fiddly bits at all.
Well now, it’s time to serve dessert, don’t you think?
The photos kinda took a turn for the worse as I had already packed away my tripod and I got lazy…also the tray was so long I couldn’t get everything into one frame (in that above photo, I had already pushed the tray to the far side of the table). Meep.
- The ice cream is pretty good, sorbet-like in texture. I wasn’t sure if I could taste the soy or I was just being placebo’d, so it must’ve been very subtle
- The roll (prominently in the middle) was very normal, but with a great creamy texture. Kind of like those sponge cakes you get in the supermarket
- There’s some random floss with a small dab of soy caramel to the side. I’m not convinced by soy caramel (like the sugar hit at Ocean Room), but I think it’ll grow on me.
And that brings us to the end of this wonderful 12-course degustation.
Ocean Room is in my top ten Japanese, for sure. I can’t wait till I get the chance to go there again. Who’s up for it? 8D
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: almost everything, great service, location, even decent pricing when discounted
What could be improved: that fish cake dish and the red meat dish – they’re not of the standard that the rest of the dishes are
I give Ocean Room a grand total of nine Caesars out of ten – 9/10