Saturday, 4 January 2014

Ocean Room, Circular Quay

The other day we celebrated the Boy's birthday at Ocean Room, which has excellent views of the Opera House. In our case, we were seated around the time a massive cruise ship was meant to be departing. Our waiter apologetically explained that there had been a bit of a delay because one of its passengers had gone walkabout and was being retrieved. In any case, we didn't mind since the view of the boat was just as entertaining as the Opera House.

yay filter!

The birthday boy decreed that we go for the $120 12 course tasting menu ("YOLO", as he phrased it) and, since he's partial to them, cocktails. I rebelliously went for an orange mocktail called "Tokyo Rose", decorated with a single rose bud. A combination of soda, rose water, cherry syrup, red grapefruit juice and fresh lime juice, it was light, fizzy and full of citrus. It oddly made me think of tutti frutti and bubblegum - common slushy flavours when I was a kid.

Blueberry fizz ($19.00)
Tokyo Rose ($10.00)

After the ship left, tourists began to flock over


The 12 course degustation took us 3 hours to plough through, with the first third being churned out swiftly. As my stomach is wont to do, the drawn-out process caused it to feel full at around the 8th dish. I tenaciously battled on, but my tastebuds didn't appreciate the latter third of the menu due to the stomach's turgid state :(

1. Kaki (oyster): Two cold smoked oysters on top of flat metal spoons. The tomato water jelly (the white cloudy substance) indeed tasted of cold tomato juice, while the chilli pearl burst on my tongue. It was a refreshing change from the usual plain natural oysters we normally have, and got us talking about having another round of oysters some time in the next few weeks.


2. Ochazuke: The waiter poured gyukuro (one of the highest grades of green tea) and dashi (stock) into the wasabi-rimmed glass. This room-temperature mixture  contrasted starkly with the icy umeboshi (plum) sorbet, giving me a brain freeze when I naively shovelled the entire mixture into my mouth. There was crisp rice crust, similar in texture to those Asian rice cracker snacks/ rice puffs.  The flame-seared latchet (fish) was a little jarring - not a contender for favourite entree.


3. Maguro (yellow fin tuna): This was pretty fun to eat. We were advised to mix everything up on the plate and to have it with the tomato chips. I loved the green olive and buffalo mozzarella drops, which burst open with a light poke.


4. Canned Ocean Room (no preservatives!): We were a little stunned when the can was set before us. I was afraid we'd open it to find supermarket tuna or something similarly banal, but I was proven wrong. There was a large variety of seafood inside that little can, including sea urchin, crab, scallop, cuttlefish and salmon pearls. I'd snapped a photo of what was in the can, but it's mysteriously gone missing :S

Canned Ocean Room

5. Onsen (natural hot springs?): When this arrived, my first thought was "Ewwwww vegetables".  They tasted great with that anchovy and garlic oil "bath" in the centre, though. The tea light candle below the oil ensured the dip remained warm, while the black shichimi (seven spice flakes) provided a gritty kick. Interestingly, there was also a small fried riceball (yaki-onigiri).



Setting sun

 6. Kassen: Selection of fresh sashimi - Loved the variety and quality. The smoked-salmon-in-a-glass was a nice touch.


 7. Foie gras: The thought of offal makes me gag, and thankfully there wasn't much of the foie gras. It was even almost tasty when pan seared (a little bit of char does wonders) and eaten with the soup stock and giant cylinder of stewed daikon.

8. Miso cod: Zucchini flower, miso cod, orange miso and a bit of ginger risotto. Nice, but not memorable (in all fairness, I was also entering a food coma).

9. Butabara (pork belly): This came in a hot plastic bag, which the waiter snipped open. The yuzu chilli ponzu came in a test tube, which was left to us to pour into the bag. The pork belly wasn't as melt-in-your-mouth tender as I expected. Regardless, the hot melting tofu and simmered pork belly made for decent comfort food.

 10. Deconstructed 'Burrito': This was definitely a bit of a filler, with the tornado potato on a stick, sizable slab of wagyu flat iron steak, bits of tortilla, and carby chilli con carne. The steak came medium-rare, which is bloodier than I like, but it meant the beef was very easy to bite into. The tornado potato tasted like soft wedges, so it was hard for me to refrain from eating too much of it.

11. Edo-mae sushi:  3 types of nigiri sushi (sashimi draped on top of rice) which was explained by the waitress to be served without soy sauce because it was already seasoned. The Boy reckoned that it could have done with sauce, in fact, and I would have to agree. It was pretty dry, even eaten with the young ginger. A pity, because it would otherwise have been quite enjoyable.

Bonus round- Birthday cake on the house: Thanks Ocean Room!

12. Hotondo ichigo (almost/ a little strawberry): This was a pot of strawberry mascarpone, with strawberry chips and sweetened beetroot, accompanied by candy and minty lemon air on top of a strawberry. It was all nice except the beetroot. I guess it was meant to act the same way as rhubarb in desserts, but half the glass pot was beetroot, overpowering everything else.


Service: Couldn't ask for more. Attentive, friendly, unobtrusive.

Overall impression: Good food, views and atmosphere. We want to return for the a la carte dishes - of particular interest, I saw people grilling meat on top of a cubic BBQ contraption.

Ocean Room on Urbanspoon


  1. Ocean Room is one of my favourite japanese restaurants :) The Miso cod is my favourite, but I too, was reaching food coma by the time it was served!

    1. Oooo really? I'd better try that miso cod again when my stomach's not full to the brim :O

  2. This meal looked fantastic! I'm almost envious. Almost.


    1. Almost?! I've gotta try harder >.>

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