I'm going to let you in on a little secret... There's a relatively new concept that has been floating around Sydney that gives you amazing discounts off the total bill at various restaurants. I'm not talking about those group-buying deals where a billion restrictions often apply. What I'm referring to are sites such as Noble Village, Full Society, and now, Restaurant.com.au where you book online with them to receive a discreet discount off the total bill at the selected restaurant.
You may or may not know that I've previously used Noble Village (which no longer exists) to get a whopping 25% discount at Fei Jai ;)
So of course when I was invited to check out Restaurant.com.au, I did not hesitate! Brought to you by the team behind the Entertainment Books, Restaurant.com.au offers a flat 30% discount off the total bill without any restriction placed on menu choice. And the discount is applicable to drinks too!
The maths is simple. This meal at Ocean Room would have cost $287.50 but with the Restaurant.com.au booking fee of $8, the bill would have come down to just $201.25!
I think it's so exciting that this makes fine dining so much more accessible! Plus if you're planning on fine dining anyway, claiming the discount is pretty much a no-brainer!
Situated at the Overseas Passengers Terminal near Circular Quay/The Rocks, Ocean Room offers stunning views of the harbour and is always a restaurant ready to impress. I timed this perfectly with the release of head chef Raita's new tasting menu so we were in for quite the treat!
The 12 course tasting menu is $120 per person and is a celebration of modern Japanese cuisine, showcasing Australia's finest produce and ingredients.
Zen starts with a Wasabi Collins ($18), a crisp and refreshing concoction of Plymouth gin, tamari, house made wasabi syrup, Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice and soda. I have the Tokyo Rose ($11) mocktail of red grapefruit juice, watermelon, fresh lime juice, rose water, soda and rose bud.
First course is the Namagaki: freshly shucked Sydney rock oyster with spicy sangrita cloud and tomato air. The tomato air is spectacular and so much fun. Texture-wise, it looks like foam, but it disappears the instant it enters my mouth, leaving a luscious tomato flavour lingering behind.The sangrita reminds me of a Bloody Mary and is savoury, sweet and spicy all at the same time - it's a divine match with the plump and juicy oyster!
Next course is the Ochazuke Modern: cold-drip dashi & premium gyokura green tea with Koshihikari rice crust, flame seared latchet, umeboshi sorbet and wasabi dust. It's not as bold as the first course but it is just as delicious! There's a beautiful complexity in all the layers of flavours.
The Maguro Tartare is my most favourite course so far! Served DIY style, there's sea salt cured tuna that is sesame scented, toasted nori and ocean pearls, and dark and white balsamic crystals on the side for dipping.
Each bite-sized sushi roll is indulgently savoured.
Give me a giant plate of this any day!
The first of the hot courses, the Ocean Shinjo is a housemade fish cake of tiger prawn and calamari, wrapped in bean curd and deep-fried. It's well seasoned and utterly moreish.
The Secret Hotate is an interesting take on the classic Chinese xiao long bao (steamed soup dumpling). A steamed Western Australian scallop is encased within an almost translucent dumpling skin and is served with Ocean Room's XO sauce, red sake vinegar and soy. It's very delicate in taste and is absolute comfort food!
Next, Raita's sashimi collection, a seasonal platter of the best sashimi! The presentation is immaculate and the pairing of flavours on each just heightens the experience.
The seared ocean trout sits on top of a thin slice of lemon and is served with a small cucumber fan. It's a classic but truly a delight.
The shiso cured bar cod is even more amazing, not just because the rim features a gorgeous purple (my favourite colour) tint from the shiso. The tiny pea of yuzu pepper brings each morsel to life.
Ocean Room's sashimi collection really is the ultimate sashimi indulgence!
The next course is a bit quirky and so warming. The Dobin-Mushi Taraba King Crab features taraba king crab and dashi consomme in a tea pot with young chrysanthemum leaves, char-grilled shimeji mushrooms and sweet potato noodles.
With a generous squeeze of lime, we remove the lid and devour the contents. We then pour the broth out via the teapot spout. What a clever idea?
The crab is succulent and sweet, the mushrooms and noodles offer a bit of bite and the broth is simply divine! Plus you know how much I love chysanthemum leaves?!
Next is the chef's signature dish, the Saikyo Miso Cod - a grilled sweet miso cod fillet with ginger risotto and orange miso sauce. I fell in love the cod and miso combination the first time I had it and this is as good. The ginger risotto is very mild whereas the orange miso sauce offers vibrant earthy notes, both complementing the sweetness of the miso glazed cod brilliantly.
The only course I'm not sure of, is the Agedashi Mapo Artisan Tofu. As a lover of both mapo tofu and agedashi tofu, this combination is somewhat a confusing blend of the two. The sauce isn't quite spicy enough and lacks the punch of Sichuan flavours - plus it's surprisingly luke warm. The tofu on its own, however, is flawless.
The Two-Dimensional Jack's Creek Wagyu 8+ Marble Score is served two ways at the table.
The smoked char-grilled fillet is tender and particularly aromatic when eaten with the smoked salt. It doesn't need the chimichurri sauce it is served with. The potato croquette and fresh watercress sprigs make great accompaniments!
Meanwhile, the slow braised wagyu meat pie is rich and flavoursome. Some tomato sauce would have worked a treat though! LOL
Since watching Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, I've been searching for really good Tokyo style sushi in Sydney. This Edo-Mae Nigiri Sushi course does not disappoint!
Instructed not to further dip the sushi into any soy sauce and wasabi, each piece features its own distinctive texture and seasoning. It's a delicious masterpiece!
Last but not least, dessert!
The Nori (seaweed) and Shoyu (soy sauce) Angel Cake sounds like a strange combination but for those who like the mix of savoury in sweet, this cake is amazing! Lightly aromatic, the cake is served with a scoop of spiced vanilla icecream, a miniature teapot of soy caramel and some banana thing beneath a wig of Persian fairy floss.
I forgot to mention earlier, that the Restaurant.com.au system mainly offers weeknight bookings only, so we enjoyed this on a Friday night. But I can't think of a better way to top off a big week than to indulge in a degustation, can you?
For more information on how Restaurant.com.au works or to secure your own discounts, go to www.restaurant.com.au.
Ground Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney, NSW
Phone: (02)9252 9585
JENIUS dined as guests of Wasamedia and Restaurant.com.au