It was time to go back again this week to one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney: Ocean Room. Again my choice was Raita’s Tasting Menu. But it was the first time for my dinner guest, who looked at the number of courses and gasped – 12 courses (after our pre-dinner cocktail that is). As I was not a novice I reassured her. Don’t worry; the courses are small and the food is light. What I didn’t explain at that point though, was the incredible balance and harmony the chef creates in each of his dishes and across the tasting menu. I let her find that out for herself. The new autumn menu is no exception. In fact, I think Chef Raita Noda’s food just keeps getting better and better.
freshly shucked Sydney rock oyster, Guinness, myoga, Yamazaki silk
I’m not one for mucking around with an oyster, but if you’re going to, this treatment is light and still lets the oyster shine.
cold-drip dashi & premium gyokura green tea, Koshihikari rice crust, flamed seared latchet, umeboshi sorbet, wasabi dust
Yellow fin tuna, Sicilian green olive & buffalo mozzarella drops crystallised yuzu, soy pearls, tomato chips
house made corquette, tiger prawn & calamari, yuba angel hair
Autumn vegetable collection, yaki-onigir, black shichimi, house made anchovy & garlic bath
daily recommendations, seasonal sashimi selection
wagyu beef, grilled tofu, seasonal mixed vegetables, dashi consommé, lime chilli soy
signature grilled sweet miso cod fillet, ginger risotto, orange miso
simmered pork belly, melting tofu, yuzu chilli ponzu
wagyu flat iron stea, Tasmanian pepper jus, quinoa crusted king prawn, Americain cream agedashi taro potato
three authentic Tokyo style nigiri sushi, chef’s daily recommendations
amaguri chestnut mont blanc
green tea angel cake, spiced icea cream, chestnut puree, cognac persimmon
Each dish was superb but there was an early stand out on this menu that sits so highly in my estimation it would be difficult (here or elsewhere) to beat. The incredible clarity of the Ochazuke broth highlighted the changes of texture that played inside it. Yet with such delicate flavours, harmony was still retained. This dish deserves a standing ovation and for no other reason than this, you need to get to Ocean Room now to try this while it is on the autumn menu.
We also applauded the Maguro which was a little like the style of a tartare, as the patron mixes the condiments in with the raw tuna. It’s a really delightful dish. We both adored the fresh Onsen where the lightness of the vegetables were a perfect tool for the house made anchovy and garlic bath. To make the bath, Raita buys the anchovies fresh and dry cures them for a number of months before pounding with garlic in olive oil. Broths excel here and the dashi consommé was another high point. The beef sat proudly in paper thin slices and we briefly dipped in the broth before letting it melt in our mouths. You might have had the Miso Cod previously as it is a signature. It’s always enjoyed. Those flavours work so well together. The night went on and we ate all of the 12 courses with joy. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the persimmon in the dessert; there are two varieties of persimmon and my preference is for the squishy sweet soft one – Raita’s persimmon was poached but very firm. He had a very full restaurant and a busy night, so unfortunately I didn’t get to ask him about this. Did love the dessert other than that and it was my only question mark of the night.
Ocean Room is also where I learnt to drink sake, where I fell in love with the nuance of the wine. But when I first started drinking cocktails here they were just classics. I’m excited now, because with the change to the autumn food menu, the cocktail list has also been updated to reflect the Japanese heritage of the restaurant. New offerings Barley & Violet and Nippon Mojito are shochu (spirits) based. For shochu lovers: brown sugar Ki, barley, sweet potato and rice are all also available. And for autumn winter, the comforting warmth of cinnamon Blood Orange & Plum Sour is my cocktail recommendation. A clever drink that utilises the Japanese love of scotch whisky and marries it with plum wine. There is a dedicated bar area at one end of the restaurant to sit and sip without ordering a meal. Though I’d also recommend eating; the food (as you have seen) is superb.
And if you are having the tasting menu or an a la carte dessert why not also try a cocktail to finish your night. I’m not usually one for a sweet cocktail, but the Ocean Room Mai Tai is a great dessert match with its hint of house made dulce de leche.
Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal Circular Quay West, The Rocks, Sydney NSW Australia
+61 2 9252 9585