Ocean Room Cover

Ocean Room – All the Flavours of the Sea

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

Ocean Room

Ocean Room bar
Bar area is at the “back” of the restaurant

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.

Ocean Room alcohol
…which has a decent selection of Japanese sakes and Western wines

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.

Ocean Room Namagaki - freshly shucked Sydney rock oyster, spicy sangrita cloud, tomato air
Namagaki – freshly shucked Sydney rock oyster, spicy sangrita cloud, tomato air

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
Ocean Room oysters
Can you see the oyster now?
Ocean Room Ochazuke modern - cold-drip dashi & premium gyokuro green tea, Koshihikari rice crust, flame seared latched, umeboshi sorbet, wasabi dust
Ochazuke modern – cold-drip dashi & premium gyokuro green tea, Koshihikari rice crust, flame seared latched, umeboshi sorbet, wasabi dust

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)
Ocean Room flame seared latched in green tea
A closer-upper
Ocean Room Maguro tartare - sea salt cured tuna, sesame scented, dark & white balsamic crystal, toasted nori & ocean pearl
Maguro tartare – sea salt cured tuna, sesame scented, dark & white balsamic crystal, toasted nori & ocean pearl

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.

Ocean Room maguro tuna & nori
Whooaaaa different angle
Ocean Room Ocean shinjo - house-made fish cake, tiger prawn & calamari bean curd parcel
Ocean shinjo – house-made fish cake, tiger prawn & calamari bean curd parcel

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.

Ocean Room fish cake & bean curd parcel
Guess the fish cake :P
Ocean Room calamari bean curd parcel
It looks good…but looks are deceiving in this case
Ocean Room Secret hotate -flame-seared Western Australian scallop, micro herb ravioli, yuzu ponzu, Ocean Room's XO sauce, shallot oil
Secret hotate -flame-seared Western Australian scallop, micro herb ravioli, yuzu ponzu, Ocean Room’s XO sauce, shallot oil

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.

Ocean Room scallops & ravioli
I should’ve taken a picture of the scallops…you never saw them :|
Ocean Room Raita's sashimi collection - chef's daily - Tuna, Salmon, Kingfish, Flathead
Raita’s sashimi collection – chef’s daily – Tuna, Salmon, Kingfish, Flathead

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.
Ocean Room sashimi
Another angle for y’all
Ocean Room sashimi
And another!
Ocean Room Dobin-mushi taraba king crab - taraba king crab & dashi consommé, young chrysanthemum leaf, char-grilled shimeji mushroom
Dobin-mushi taraba king crab – taraba king crab & dashi consommé, young chrysanthemum leaf, char-grilled shimeji mushroom

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 :D
  • 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.

Ocean Room Saikyo miso cod - signature grilled sweet miso cod fillet, ginger risotto, orange miso sauce
Saikyo miso cod – signature grilled sweet miso cod fillet, ginger risotto, orange miso sauce

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!

Ocean Room saikyo miso cod
A close up of that lovely cod
Ocean Room risotto
Aaaand a close-up of that risotto. Mmmm, creamy risotto…
Ocean Room Agedashi mapo artisan tofu - golden silken tofu, Japanese inspired mapo sauce, umami-rich flavour
Agedashi mapo artisan tofu – golden silken tofu, Japanese inspired mapo sauce, umami-rich flavour

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.

Ocean Room Two dimensional Jack's Creek wagyu 8+ marble score. Table smoked char-grilled fillet, slow braised wagyu meat pie
Two dimensional Jack’s Creek wagyu 8+ marble score. Table smoked char-grilled fillet, slow braised wagyu meat pie

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?

Ocean Room wagyu beef steak
Yep that’s the wagyu (Y)

Yes, it’s this. Still smoking even as it arrives onto the table.

Ocean Room wagyu beef pie
And that’s the wagyu meat pie (Y)
This would be a potato ball.

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!
Ocean Room Edo-Mae nigiri sushi - three authentic Tokyo style nigiri sushi, chef's daily recommendation - kingfish aburi, ocean trout, bluefin tuna
Edo-Mae nigiri sushi – three authentic Tokyo style nigiri sushi, chef’s daily recommendation – kingfish aburi, ocean trout, bluefin tuna

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.

Great stuff!

Ocean Room kingfish nigiri
Le kingfish
Ocean Room ocean trout nigiri
Le ocean trout – salmon’s brother
Ocean Room bluefin tuna nigiri
Le bluefin tuna

Well now, it’s time to serve dessert, don’t you think?

Ocean Room Nori & shoyu angel cake - vanilla & soy infused ice cream, soy caramel, spiced vanilla ice cream
Nori & shoyu angel cake – vanilla & soy infused ice cream, soy caramel, spiced vanilla ice cream

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.
Ocean Room dessert
Floss your teeth with sugar
Ocean Room dessert
The ice cream – in mochi form!
Ocean Room dessert
Hello massive nori cake

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 :D

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

Ocean Room on Urbanspoon

9 thoughts on “Ocean Room – All the Flavours of the Sea”

    1. Hey Orlando,

      There really isn’t such thing as a ‘favourite’. We all have moods for what kinds of foods we want to eat depending on various factors. The best indication I can give you already exists – it lies in my Caesar score. Price is relative and contextual, it matters not nearly as much as most people make it out to be.

  1. I went here recently for their Autumn 12 course tasting menue, but sadly at night which was spectacular for the view of the opera house, but not very good for my photos.

    The menu was a little different from yours, some of yours were presented spectacularly though.

    1. Hey Thang,

      I really like how Ocean Room changes their degustation with the seasons. More excuses to go back! Wonder what their winter one will be like…

      Indeed, taking photos at fine dining restaurants which are almost never well lit is always challenging. This time, even with a tripod I couldn’t get particularly good shots as people walking introduced vibrations, ahhh the pains…

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