The finest Japanese I’ve ever had. Well, probably the finest food I’ve ever had, full stop. In the increasingly busy last semester of my degree, I nabbed the invite to try the tasting menu at Ocean Room, knowing it would be one of my last major social outings for a couple months. Boy, I don’t regret it. If you haven’t heard of Ocean Room, they’re a gorgeous modern Japanese restaurant located at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks. Overlooking the beautiful Quay, giant windows allow diners to peer across the water to the Sydney Opera house. The night-time view is as breathtaking as the food.
Degustations are the best way for restaurants such as Ocean Room to showcase the fresh ingredients and skill of the chef. Throughout the night as we dined on twelve courses (I think it took us around three hours), I noticed several characteristics of the haute cuisine. I thought I would share these with you while you enjoy the photos…
1. Fresh. For me, Japanese cuisine always conjures the concept of ‘fresh’ — fresh seafood is key. Ocean Room prides itself on fresh seafood. The staff select the best, daily, at the Fish Markets. This means that what is on the menu may vary depending on what the highest quality catch of the day is. I have never had sashimi that tasted as delicate as that which we ate.
2. Warm. For temperature, I would describe everything we ate as ‘warm,’ or in some cases, room temperature. Each element came ready-to-eat. At room to warm temperature, I believe all of the flavours were allowed to be their most robust or most delicate, depending on the aim of the dish. I love cooking, and I think I will give more consideration to the temperatures of my dishes.
3. Umami. I noticed a great majority of the dishes contained dashi in some form, and the binding flavour of the twelve courses was umami. Sometimes referred to as the ‘fifth taste,’ umami is like a balanced mix of the others. It’s a ‘meaty’ or ‘brothy’ flavour, and was unmistakeable in Ocean Room’s tasting menu. I felt this was a remarkable and subtle way to draw twelve unique courses together.
4. Drama. And of course, a degustation should have some drama. Someone said, “you dine with your eyes first,” and this is indeed true. Ocean Room’s courses were delivered by their knowledgable, friendly and accommodating staff and were presented in all sorts of ways: the Onsen autumn vegetable collection arrived as a candlelit fondue set. Butabara simmered pork belly and melting tofu came wrapped up like a gift in the food-safe plastic it was cooked in. Ochazuke cold drip dashi and premium green tea arrived in a round fishbowl-esque vessel and the server poured dashi over the koshihikari rice crisps.
The autumn tasting menu ($120pp / $178pp with matching wines) is available now at Ocean Room. They also offer an a la carte menu, and “2 for 1” cocktails each night from 6-7pm.
Enjoy the photos.
Everybody Loves Ramen dined as a guest of Wasamedia & Ocean Room, Sydney. I thank my friend, George, for the opportunity to dine, and Executive Chef Raita Noda for plating a fabulous experience.
Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West, The Rocks Sydney NSW 2000
+61 2 9252 9585
LUNCH: Tue – Fri: 12:00 to 14:00
DINNER: Mon -Sat: 18:00 to 22:00