Modern Japanese and stunning Sydney Harbour views
Noodlies, Sydney food blog samples a 12 course tasting menu.
Japanese cuisine is perfect for the tasting menu treatment, it’s elegant, clean with minimal use of oils or strong flavours. The Japanese are zen with food; ingredients kept separate to help you distinguish and enjoy each mouthful – think divided bento boxes. The simplicity and separation help diners awaken the senses: taste, smell, texture, sight – colours and how the dish is assembled have special significance; red which is a common colour in Japanese food, is said to stimulate an appetite.
An island nation, seafood features prominently as are seasonal ingredients. Today, noodlies, Sydney food blog is tasting Ocean Room’s Autumn 12 course tasting menu (listed in full further below). At $120, it’s amazing value, $10 per course for fine Japanese dining, classy ambiance and uninterrupted views of the Harbour and Opera House.
See the range of dishes in the noodlies featured video below.
Some of noodlies’ favourite courses from the menu are featured below:
Kaki (below): slippery, slinky freshly shucked oysters with tantalising zing from young Japanese ginger and yamazaki (Japanese whisky made from fruit and honey). It’s a perfect starter which gently wakes the palate and leaves you wanting more.
Ochazuke (below): an intriguing transformation of a humble dish sometimes made with left over rice and flavoured with dashi. Here the rice is replaced with rice crust which provides a crunchy, surprising texture absorbing the deep flavours provided by dashi and gyokuro stock; distinctive but also subtle gyokuro tea is uniquely brewed at 50-60 degrees using double tea portions to water. Extra intensity comes with each mouthful of latchet fish.
Shinjo (below): fried yuba (tofu skin) angel hair provides a crispy camouflage to an intense burst of savoury flavour of a miniature seafood croquette made with tiger prawn and calamari. Paradoxically delicate and rich.
Butabara (below): is probably the most ostentatious dish of the night. You wouldn’t know it by the photo below, but watch the noodlies video above to see how it’s presented as the dish arrives to the table and you’ll see what I mean. Again, the predominantly white on white shown in the photo below doesn’t do the dish justice. The melt-in-the-mouth tender pork belly offers a plain taste that works perfectly in the sweet and slightly acidic ponzu, the chilli is barely noticeable.
Raita Noda, Ocean Room’s executive chef came to Australia over two decades ago. Prior to the Ocean Room many will remember him him as the owner/chef at Rise Restaurant in Darlinghurst, where he first gained a chef’s hat in SMH’s Good Food Guide. He also spent time at highly rated Unkai restaurant in the ANA (now Shangri-la) as chef de partie.
At Ocean Room, Noda has created a modern Japanese tasting menu that’s faithful to principles of Japanese cuisine, simple elegance that awakens the senses; colour, texture, taste and one that respects the seasons; in addition to using seasonal produce, many courses in this Autumn menu is warm, acknowledging the cooler weather.
It’s astounding value, elegant and complex, the 12 courses aren’t taxing on the belly, just to the senses and memory – noodlies struggled, despite written notes, to recall in detail the subtly of each dish. Similar to those long drawn-out eight course Chinese wedding banquets, after the cognac, all but the first few dishes are a blur. Here we’re dealing with an intricate, delicate and exacting menu – I witnessed first hand the attention to detail and care Noda pours into each course. I feel a mild pang of shame that I’m unintentionally disrespecting his art. If I was Cher and could “turn back time”, I’d go a-la-carte to fully savour Noda’s brilliance.
RAITA NODA’S TASTING MENU
freshly shucked Sydney rock oyster, Guinness, myoga, Yamazaki
cold-drip dashi & premium gyokuro green tea, Koshihikari rice crust, flame seared latchet, umeboshi sorbet, wasabi dust
Yellow fin tuna, Sicilian green olive & buffalo mozzarella drops crystalised yuzu , soy pearls, tomato chips
house-made croquette, tiger prawn & calamari, yuba angel hair
autumn vegetable collection, yaki-onigiri, black shichimi, anchovy sauce house made anchovy & garlic bath
daily recommendation, seasonal sashimi selection
wagyu beef, grilled tofu, seasonal mixed vegetables dashi consomme, lime chilli soy
signature grilled sweet miso cod fillet, ginger risotto, orange miso
simmered pork belly, melting tofu, yuzu chilli ponzu
wagyu flat iron steak, Tasmanian pepper jus, quinoa crusted king prawn, Americaine cream, agedashi taro potato
three authentic Tokyo style nigiri sushi, chef’s daily recommendation
amaguri chestnut mont blanc
12 courses for $120 per head, $178 per head with matching wine.
Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks