Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Taste of Shanghai - Ashfield

I first went to Taste of Shanghai during the first 2 weeks it was opened. I thought the food was ok, but still preferred Shanghai Nights. Since then, we haven't been back. But we have noticed that they get more and more packed every time we walk past, and seeing all the different reviews on the net, I thought we should go back for another visit.

We arrived early, around 11:30am and all the tables were already full. Luckily, we only had to wait about 15mins to get a table. Their menu is quite extensive and offer a lot more main meals than the other Shanghainese restaurants around Ashfield. But being lunch time, we wanted more dumplings and noodles than a whole fish etc.

Pan fried pork buns

My must have at any Shanghainese restaurant is their Pan fried pork buns. Soft and fluffy on top, crispy crunchy bottom and a juicy, soupy filling. The Taste of Shanghai version isn't bad. Its crispy and fluffy and juicy and soupy. BUT, I find the juice/soup a bit too rich for my liking. Most places have a lovely clear, sweet, golden pork broth in the buns. Their version is actually a deep brown cloudy broth, as if they've put too much soya sauce and other seasoning in it. I also found it much fattier than the other places. Apparently the owners also own the butcher shop across the road with the same Chinese name, so we suspect they might also be using different cuts of meat from other places.

Steamed pork buns

The steamed pork buns suffered the same fate as the pan fried version. Too fatty and just not delicate enough in flavour. They were however, made really well.

Dried scallop fried rice

I loved the fact that its served in a wooden bucket like thing. The fried rice was quite tasty with a small mound of fried dried scallops on top. However, I found the rice really REALLY oily. When we got to the bottom, there was a pool of oil. Easily 2-3 tablespoon full, swimming in the bottom. I actually felt really greased up and ill after eating all of it.

Overall, the food is nice, but I find the food too oily for my liking and will probably be sticking to my other favourites for noodles, rice and dumplings. With that said, I do like the look of all the main meals that were served around us and will probably be coming back to try those dishes out.

Taste of Shanghai
264 Liverpool Road
Ashfield, NSW, 2131
Ph: (02) 9798 2877

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hurricanes Grill & Bar - Darling Harbour

MMmMMmmm ribs.....I salivate every time I think of Hurricane's ribs. The first visit was to the Bondi restaurant after a long hot day at Sculpture by the Sea. Since opening one in Darling Harbour, that's the one I frequent the most.

I love introducing people to Hurricanes, especially when they won't believe me that they're not actually pork ribs. They're actually stegosaurus ribs! hehe

A friend and I had tickets to a musical, and not wanting to be in a food coma, we opted to get food to share instead of eating a full rack of ribs each.

Complimentary bread

Mussels cooked in a creamy garlic sauce with bread fingers for dipping

First up was a creamy garlic mussel, served with toasted bread. Whilst the mussels and the sauce is good, the bread was just too brittle to serve any purpose. It couldn't absorb the sauce and just ends up crumbling every where. We ate most of the dish without really touching the bread.

Onion rings

Onion rings were an absolute disappointment. Instead of big thick battered rings of onion, they were thin, shrivelled bits of fried stuff that looks like the dregs of the fryer. Definitely will not be ordering this again.

Pork Ribs

Oh yeahhhhhh baby!! Come to mama! Look at the size of these ribs! I barely had to cut these up to share as the meat was practically falling off the bone. Sweet, sticky and moist...its like I'm describing an adult film! hahaha Well, it did taste that naughty! They were definitely finger licking good! MmMMmmm ribs.....

Hurricane's Grill & Bar - Darling Harbour
Harbourside Shopping Centre
Shops 433-436
Level 2, Darling Harbour, Sydney
Ph: 02 9211 2210

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Monday, March 22, 2010


Ever since I watched Crayon Shin-Chan as a kid, I've always been fascinated about Natto. Not that I knew it was called Natto. I just remember the kid swirling his chopsticks around his bowl and suddenly everything is covered in a cob web thing! It was only a few years ago that I figured out what he was eating was Natto. Imagine my surprise when I found Natto being sold in a few Asian grocery stores!

I immediately grabbed a pack of 4 (They only come in packs of 4) and headed over to my friend's place. My friend had lived in Japan for many years, and I assumed that he could show me how to eat Natto and that he'll eat it with me. WRONG. My friend's expression was a combination of hysteria and horror. No way in hell was he going to eat Natto. He'll give me instructions, but he doesn't want to be near the stuff. Its like I rocked up with rotten eggs covered in blue cheese or something!

I guess I should've given my friend more notice, because he had no rice and no seaweed sheets! Dang! But I was still determined to try and decided to eat it on its own, with no accompaniments.

Since Natto is frozen, the first thing you must do is to let it defrost.

Once defrosted, you can peel off the layer of plastic sitting ontop. As you peel it off, you can see the strands of cob web like ick starting to form. Be careful pulling the plastic off or you'll get the sticky stuff all over you.

Then, using your chopsticks, you stir. As you keep stirring, you'll notice the strands of sticky cob web eventually turn into something that I can only describe as a cross between mucus and saliva. When it looks like the beans are suspended in this mucusy-saliva like thing, then you're done.

Natto usually comes with a few sachets of condiments. In my case, it was mustard and some soya sauce looking thing. Wanting to taste natto in its most purest form, I opted not to stir them in yet. And it tastes

It wasn't entirely disgusting like my friend described. I wouldn't call it delicious either. To me, it was a slightly slimey, coffee like bean substance. I added the condiments and tasted it again. It still wasn't disgusting, and I'm finding that the flavour is growing on me.

I wish I had a bowl of steaming hot rice to eat this with, because I actually think it'll taste quite nice! My friend, however, was waiting for the contents of my stomach to come back up because he thinks I was faking it. I wouldn't rush out to start stocking up on Natto, but atleast I know if I get served only this and a bowl of rice, I'm not going to starve!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Summer Hill Hotel

There are plenty of pubs around Sydney offering Cheap steaks, and Summer Hill Hotel is no different. They have renovated in the last year or two and now has an outdoor patio area. Since the renovation, I always see more and more people sitting in the outdoor area as my train speeds past. Feeling like steak one day, and being near Summer Hill gave me the perfect excuse to check out the place.

Walking in, there are 3 sections to the hotel. There's the bar and TV area, with plenty of stools for people to sit and watch the footy. Then there's a dining area with more comfortable tables and chairs that can accommodate a family. Lastly, there's the outdoor area. Being an extremely hot day, we opted to sit in the dining area that is partially air conditioned. Partially meaning the air conditioning is on, but the open kitchen is pumping hot smokey air into the dining area, cancelling out much of the cool air.

Steak with mushroom gravy

Steak with peppercorn gravy

There are a choice of gravies available for your $10 steak. I went with mushroom gravy and my friend chose the peppercorn gravy. Cutting into my steak, I found my medium rare steak was closer to medium well if not well done in parts of it. I've always preferred my steak undercooked than overcooked if they can't do it right. In this case, the steak was just way too cooked for my liking. I'm not sure if its the steak or the fact that its not medium rare, but I found the slab of meat tough and too charred for my liking.

I suspect they may have gotten me and my friend's order mixed up, or they really have no idea how to cook a steak. His medium well steak, turned out more like medium. I would've happily swapped with him, but we were both half way through our steaks by that point.

Wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli

Being unsatisfied with my meal, I was craving for something that really hit the spot. So we ordered a bit bowl of wedges to share. The wedges were searingly hot when we got it. But it was also really crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.

I would probably come back again and try other stuff on the menu, just not the steak.

Summer Hill Hotel
1 Lackey Street
Summer Hill NSW 2130
Ph: (02) 9798 3331

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PJ O'Brien's - The Irish Pub

When looking for a new lunch joint, I found the PJ O'Brien website. Being an Irish pub, I obviously asked my Irish friend what he thought of their food. His initial reaction was to scrunch up his face and say "Don't go there!". When I asked why, he replied that he doesn't have any good memories of the place. But that's due to the fact that goes there after pub crawling for 4-5 hours. I didn't say it to his face, but I bet he was so off his face he wouldn't know the difference between eating food and a coaster at that point! hahaha

So ignoring his warnings, I dragged a friend there for lunch. Walking in, it has a lovely rustic feel. Wooden tables and chairs, scuffed from too many people having rowdy drinks. There are a few booths available, and we chose a seat in the corner by the fireplace.

I ordered Shepherds pie, hoping for a nice satisfying meal. What came out not only will it satisfy me, it can satisfy 2 people!

Shepherds pie

The shepherds pie comes in a big bowl, freshly out of the oven. What I've learnt from my now many visits to PJs is to always, ALWAYS dig a big hole in the shepherds pie to let the steam out. On many occasions I would be too impatient and end up with a burnt mouth. The filling is simple, mainly mince and peas topped with a layer of creamy mashed potatoes. The pie is much lighter in taste then what I am used to, and certainly lighter compared to what I cook. With that said, this is NOT a light meal. Not if you eat the entire pie, salad and more potato chips all washed down with a beer (Or in my case, Bulmers). You then go into what I call the potato coma. Basically, you enter a vegetative state in front of your computer, struggling to stay awake for the rest of day and not get fired by your boss.

Happy Guinness

I was so impressed by the shepherds pie, I had to drag my Irish friends here, kicking and screaming to try it out. Now? Its the other way around. They'll be the one dragging me kicking and screaming into PJs. Not because I don't like their food, but because I eat everything they serve me, meaning I won't be able to do work for the rest of the day! I have to resist PJs if I have long boring meetings in the arvo.

Blarney Castle Tower Burger

Wagyu beef burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese burger with a side of chips and salad.

The meat is denser and smoother than some other places. But It was juicy and really tasty. I would certainly classify this as good pub grub. Oh, and yes, I am SUCKY at cutting a burger in half! hehe

Chicken Schnitzel

My friend had the Chicken Schnitzel and rated it as good, just needs more gravy. Because you can't never have too much gravy!

I've lost count of how many times I've been to PJ's. I'm slowly making my way through the menu. Other stuff I can highly recommend is the Beef and Guinness pie, Irish Pork Sausages and Mash (Really nice chunky porky sausages), pizzas and my workmate always, ALWAYS order the lamb shanks. I should probably take more photos, but every time I go, I would've consumed a few "drinks" before the food come out and basically forget. hehe

PJ O'Brien's
57 King Street, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9290 1811

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Verandah Bar

Years ago, when Friday night drinks were the norm, we would try to get into Verandah bar after work. If you haven't tried before, its almost impossible to get in. And once you do, you kind of lose orientation of where the bar is and end up pushing through the crowd endlessly trying to get a drink. I went to Verandah bar twice. Once I got in, but left after 20mins trying to get a drink. Second time I didn't even make it into the bar.

Its been quite a few years since I've been back, this time it was for lunch. Unlike the melee I witness a few years ago, lunchtime was actually a calm and peaceful experience. I actually know what the layout of the bar looks like without the 500 people crammed in there.

They have a few lunchtime specials during the week. $9 Rump on Mondays, $9 Schnitzel on Tuesdays and $10 Chicken Parmigiana on Wednesdays. The day I went was a Tuesday. Yay! Schnitzel!

The food and drinks are ordered at the bar. I was hanging around the bar waiting for the rest of the party to order. But less than 2mins after I had ordered, my buzzer went off. Talk about fast service! As I walked to the counter, I realised why they're so quick. Knowing most people will order schnitzel on Tuesdays, they had about 20 plates all laid out with the salad already on the plate. The schnitzel and chips are cooked in big batches rather per order. But with the amount of people ordering the special, you won't have to worry about cold stale food.

What impressed me most about the Verandah Bar schnitzel isn't the schnitzel itself. Don't get me wrong, it was crispy and juicy and certainly tasty. But its the bucket. The big silver bucket that sits right by the cutlery and condiments. What is so special about this bucket you ask? I'll tell you what is so special. The bucket contains litres and litres of the most gorgeous peppery gravy, which you can then ladle over your food. As much as you want. !@%#@$%

I'm definitely coming back, and next time, I'm going to order just a bowl of chips and then drown it in gravy. Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh baby!

Verandah Bar
55 - 65 Elizabeth Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9239 5888

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kimama - Eating World - Haymarket / Chinatown

Whilst Gumshara is famous for their Ramen with many people visiting just for a taste, just 2 stalls away sits another less famous Japanese stall called Kimama. Being a hot day, the friend I dragged along just did not want a hot soupy ramen. Instead, he opted to try the Katsudon from Kimama.


You know you're onto a winner when after the first bite, there's no time to comment on the food as you keep shovelling bite after bite into your mouth. Surprisingly, this little Japanese joint scored a 8 out of 10 from my friend when comparing to his favourite one in Japan. This is a big thing as most Japanese restaurants score a 5 or a 6 when compared to Japan standards.

My friend was so impressed, that we went back a week later so he can get another Katsudon fix whilst I get to try out the rest of the menu.

Second visit, just as consistently good!

Being another 30 degree day, I really didn't feel like a heavy or hot meal. I spotted a cold udon dish on the menu and immediately ordered that.

The noodles contain seaweed, some sort of mixed vegetable/bamboo shoot, diced daikon and a perfectly barely cooked egg all swimming in a cold vingeary broth.

Digging into the noodles I hit something hard in the bowl:

They weren't kidding when they said it was a cold noodle dish! Look at that ice!

Whilst the noodles were incredibly refreshing, I wasn't entirely satisfied after eating it. Mind you, this is not the fault of the dish. Firstly, I personally didn't like the whole bamboo veggie mix as it tasted a bit too much like Gai Larn for me. Gai Larn is probably one of the few Asian veggies that I dislike. Secondly, I was craving something REALLY REALLY vinegary. Whilst the sauce was nice, it didn't hit my craving.

However, with that said, the egg that came with the noodles is one of the best soft boiled/poached eggs I've ever had.It seemed like the egg was very softly boiled to the stage where the whites has just started to firm up before cracking the whole thing into the bowl. I saved the egg til last knowing it was going to be good. And boy was it good! The egg yolk just bursts in the mouth and is incredibly runny and creamy. I would come back just for the egg! Actually, they do sell just the egg.

Since I was ordering something cold, I figured I need something hot to balance the meal out.

I ordered a side of Karage Chicken with their Teriyaki Mayo. They actually have a few different flavours of Mayo, such as sweet chilli mayo. The chicken was crispy and incredibly juicy and went perfectly with the creamy mayo and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce.

The people in front of me had ordered Takoyaki, which looked absolutely delicious and handmade! (Not deep fried frozen stuff like some other placeS). Next time I'm there, I am definitely ordering the takoyaki. Maybe I should make a meal of takoyaki, karage chicken and eggs? hehe

Eating World Food Court
25-29 Dixon Street

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Ocean Room - A Special Celebration!

Two close friends of mine got married on the weekend. They decided to go for a smaller intimate wedding and opted to not have a big elaborate reception after the ceremony. Although we completely understand and support their decision, it doesn't mean we can't celebrate in a big way for them! So whilst there was no reception for us to attend, a few of us who did go to the ceremony decided we should book somewhere nice to celebrate their special day anyway.

After scoping around, we settled on Ocean Room. When booking, they mentioned that there will be a cruise ship docked on the night, obstructing the view of the Opera House. Because of that, they will be offering their 11 Course Tasting menu for $65, down from the usual $90. Score! AND there will be champagne on arrival! Double Score!

The ship that scored us our great deal

We arrive and are seated in the same seats we were in last time. Basically under the sloping part of their swinging bamboo decoration. This isn't too much of an issue until you've had a few and the whole ceiling appears to be moving (which it is...)

The moving ceiling...

Cute cupid at the bottom of the glass

There are 5 of us, 2 of which won't eat raw food and 1 is a vegetarian (I'll get back to this later). We placed our order for the 11 Course Tasting Menu and ordered some cocktails as well. The cocktail list actually has a small picture on the left-hand side showing the glass the cocktail will be served in. Champagne flute, tumbler etc. I chose my Hi-Tea-Ni purely based on the fact that it is served in a crystal tea pot on a bed of ice. In fact, I HATE Martini's unless its lychee flavoured or any other sweet fruity flavour.


However, I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth this Martini went down. I guess it does make a difference when using high quality alcohol and keeping it chilled on ice the whole night.

Nippon Fizz

For some reason tasted like soya sauce....maybe its the whiskey in it. But it gave me a Japanese soya sauce salad dressing after taste. Not something I'd order that's for sure.

Ocean Room Punch

Ocean Room Punch was fruity and tangy. Definitely easy to go down.

Our complimentary Champagne was a mimosa with fresh pomegranate seeds floating on top. How pretty is that!? I love the burst of the pomegranate seed when you bite on it.

1st Raw course: Oyster Duo
Left: Rock oyster with fresh chilli & lemon vinaigrette Right: Pacific oyster with shiso basil sorbet and konbu

The Rock oyster wasn't that special. I found the dressing a bit bland and watery. The Pacific however, was creamy and briny, and the sorbet on top was fantastic!

1st Cooked Course: Sour Plum Scallop
Seared scallop with arrowroot noodles and sour plum vinaigrette

My friends were ooing and ahhing over this course. I didn't get to try it, but they're saying its one of the best courses of the night.

1st Vegetarian Course: Spicy Garlic Edamame
Poached green soy beans tossed with salt, fresh chilli and garlic

I could smell the wafts of caramelised garlic from across the table. I would've loved to have tasted this, but didn't want to steal from the vegetarian when I've got 11 courses coming!

2nd Raw Course - Tuna Cornet
Marinated blue fin tuna tartare in wrapped nori cornet

How cute is the presentation?! hehehe The nori cone was sweet, salty, crunchy and definitely moreish. I would've loved a plate of just the cone to eat in front of the TV. The cone contrasted beautifully with the soft fatty tuna. Just wished I had a bigger cone!

2nd Cooked Course - Kushikatsau
Crispy panko pork tenderloin skewer with Japanese bbq sauce and mustard aioli

Crumbed and deep fried meat on a stick. Need I say more?

Tomato Somen
Chilled Japanese somen noodles in clear tomato (Bonito?) broth

This was a complimentary dish from the chef to our vegetarian (Although the menu lists bonito in the dish, but I hope they know to make it without!). The clear cold tomato consomme was really refreshing. Too bad summer is coming to an end, because I reckon this would've been perfect on a hot summers day.

3rd Course: Soft shell crab Taco
Spiced soft shell crab, pickled vegetables in a taco shell

Oh yeahhhh baby! Fried stuff encased in more fried stuff! hehe The soft shell crabs were slightly spiced leaving a nice heat on the tongue afterwards. My only complaint, which isn't really a complaint, is that they should've made the taco shells bigger so I didn't have these giant crab legs practically poking my eyes out as I'm trying to shove it into my gob.

4th Course: Anchovy and Sorbet
Marinated anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet

This was an interesting course. I would classify this more as a canapé then a course. And I would definitely mark this as Italian rather than Japanese. Crostini with anchovies, capers and a lovely smoked tomato sorbet on top. I actually thought it was a tomato pesto type sauce when I first saw it. I didn't realise it was a sorbet until the intense cold hit the roof of my mouth!

5th Course:Wasabi Prawns
Crispy king prawn with wasabi aioli petit wasabi croquette

The prawns are lightly battered and topped with a creamy wasabi aioli and tobiko. The wasabi croquette was probably a bit too petit because we didn't actually know what it was. Kinda just tasted like fried batter. The prawns however, were fantastic! They burst in your mouth with every bite! I tried cutting each mouthful smaller so I could savour the taste. Didn't really work. Next time I should just order a whole plate of these little suckers.

6th Course: Sake Jelly Bar Cod
Seared bar cod with sake & plum jelly, sheer konbu

I've never been a huge fan of cod, I find the flesh to firm. Even when raw, I found the fish very tough to cut through. However, the jelly and konbu was FANTASTIC! I actually sat there scraping the last of the jelly with my fork, wishing that I had a spoon! hehe

Cooked version

7th Raw Course: Tuna Creation
Tuna five ways, with five different condiment

Tasting Note

A little tasting note is given to eat person so they know what they're eating. In general, I found this dish a bit average. Yes the tuna was good quality (Although there was a few pieces I just could not cut up, ended up hacking it apart), but the flavours paired with each piece didn't really stand out. I didn't even realise I was eating truffle salt. The only thing I really did like was the soy salt. And that's because its like soya sauce.....but in powder form!

7th Cooked Course:Sous-Vide Ocean Trout Slow cooked ocean trout, served with spicy avocado salsa and Treviso salad

I had a taste of this and the spicy avocado salsa was to die for! Really made me crave spicy guacamole and chips! hehe

Vegetarian Course: Goma Tofu Steak Pan seared, house made soft sesame tofu with toasty butter soy sauce

Oh man.....if vegetarian food tasted as good as this, I'm pretty sure I can be a part time vegetarian. Oh, I'll never give up meat completely, but this is certainly a very, VERY good substitute! The tofu was incredibly silky soft, but was lightly coated in a glutinous flour so it didn't fall apart and to also give it more bit. Chewy and silk soft? Genius!

8th Course: Saikyo Miso Cod and Prawn Sizzle Sweet miso marinated cod fillet with ginger scented risotto and pan seared green king prawn with coriander citrus sauce

The outstanding part of the dish had to be the pan seared king prawn. It had a lovely sweet and charred flavour. The head was also crispy, so good in fact, that I couldn't help myself but suck the goodies out of the heads! Of course I did it in the most polite and ladylike manner. And my friends seeing the delight in my face, palmed their prawn heads off onto me! haha I'm not complaining!

My dish!

The Miso Cod however, was a bit dry and firm for my liking. Probably not the fault of the Chef, more that I don't really like Cod in general. The citrus sauce however, was wonderfully tangy. I ended up scraping at it with my knife and licking the knife. Like I said.....ladylike.

The moving ceiling

The Hi-Tea-Ni was really starting to hit around this point, and it made it worse that I decided to stare up at the moving ceiling. Made me slightly loopy.....

Warm Summer Vegetable Collection Assorted seasonal vegetable assiette served with chilli, garlic and soy coulis

Essentially a half grilled half tempura'd vegetable dish. Our vegetarian was getting mighty full by the time this came out, so we ended up eating half of his dish! haha Like I said to my friend, I love eating with vegetarians. We always get to eat their food, but they can never eat ours! hehe Mind you, I'm so glad I tried this as it had a surprisingly garlicky taste. It's almost like they added garlic to the tempura batter. I wish I had a whole plate of this when it was still hot and crispy!

9th Course: Sansho Pepper Beef Steak Grain fed rib eye steak with sansho peppercorn jus

OMG......this is a course in a degustation menu? The steak was almost a full sized steak. Certainly big enough to be a standard entree or a light main meal for someone. I would've preferred the steak to be more rare. Generally I like my steak Medium Rare or even Rare. I even said to the Waitress I don't mind if the steak is still moving when its served to me. But it looks like they had cooked all the steaks as medium. Medium being the most "raw" our non-raw eaters could take. And seeing that they took a steak and cut it in half to serve 2 people, looks like for convenience sake they just made them all medium. With that said, the steak was delicious! Incredibly intense beef flavour! The little ball on the side was a fried mashed potato thing. My one was quite nice, still creamy on the inside. But the ones my friends got was all puffed up and hollow in the middle.

10th Raw Course: Tuna, King Fish and Ocean Trout Nigiri Sushi

Good sushi, nothing else to be said really..... except..... could the Tuna be any thinner!?

10th Cooked Course: Soft Shell Crab sushi roll

The lovely spicy soft shell crab taco crab made another appearance in the form of a sushi roll! My friends were completely stuffed by this stage so I scored 2 pieces! Woohoo! Including the piece with the giant crab legs sticking out! hehe

11th Course: Assorted Dessert
Left to Right: Chocolate and Espresso Layers, Apple Cake, Cranberry Sorbet, Creme Brulee

One thing we found about Ocean Room is that their desserts are their weak points. Even when we were there for their sugar hits during the SIFF last year, we weren't impressed. (I actually couldn't even be bothered to blog about it). But we wanted to come back to try their food anyway, hoping for something better. But again, we were disappointed, especially with the same chocolate and espresso layer cake/mousse/butter thing that was served for the sugar hit. However, I must say that their creme brulee was quite good. But not good enough to save their dessert course.

Complimentary Cranberry sorbet and pear sorbet for the Vegetarian

Now, whilst the food was good, let me talk a bit about the Service. When we first talked about finding a restaurant to celebrate our friend's birthday, I made a list of restaurants we could try. Ocean Room was our first choice as we've been discussing about going back since the Sugar Hit night. The only problem was I had people who didn't want to eat raw, and one vegetarian. So I called up Ocean Room to ask if their tasting menu can cater for people who can't eat raw food and vegetarians. The answer was yes to both my questions. Excellent!

I confirmed with my friends that Ocean Room can cater to their needs and got final numbers before I made a booking. Again, I reiterated that we had a vegetarian in the party and that he was hoping to try the tasting menu. Again, "not a problem".

Come the day, I get a call from Ocean Room to confirm the booking. I confirm the time and numbers and again, reminded them that we had a vegetarian with us. "Yes, we have that in the computer already". When we finally rock up and place our orders for the tasting menu, the Waitress asks us who is the person with the "dietary requirements". When my friend mentioned that he's a vegetarian, this is the conversation:

Him: I'm a vegetarian, so nothing with meat please.
Her: Is fish ok?
Him: No, no fish. No fish, no meat.
Her: What about other seafood?
Him: No seafood. No fish, no meat, no beef, no chicken, no pork, no meat.
Her: Is it ok if we use chicken or fish broth in your dishes?

And this goes on for awhile. What part of Vegetarian didn't they understand??? Eventually she assured us that she'll tell the Chef and placed our orders for the Tasting menu. 5mins later, she comes back to tell us that the Chef wants to use fish broth in the cooking. And if he can't have fish or meat broth, then he'll need to order A La Carte and will be served at different times to the rest of us.

Whilst my friend wasn't too bothered about this, I was quite upset that all of this was happening despite me telling them again and again that we'll have a vegetarian in our party that wants a tasting menu. If it couldn't be done, I would've let my friend know from the beginning or picked another place. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is that everyone I talked to, assured me that his requests could be catered for.

However, with that said, I think they did realise that they screwed up and served him the complimentary courses to try and make up for it. I was happy that they tried to make it up, I just wish they were more honest up front!

The service was also on and off, depending on the person serving us. Whilst one of the Waitress was attentive and really knew the products, another Waitress was basically on another planet. When the first Oyster course came out, she dumped the bowl in front of me without telling me this was to be shared with another person. It made it extra confusing because the cooked course was served individually. I had to call her back to ask her if I was meant to share the food. Apparently other courses were also going to be shared, so we ended up shuffling our seats so that the people eating the cooked food sat together and the people eating the raw sat together.

Despite all that, I would still want to come back to Ocean Room. I thought the food was fantastic, even though they really need to work on their desserts. Their service is ok depending on who is serving you. And I am grateful they tried to make it up to my friend because I felt so bad the whole night!

Oh, as for the special, it wasn't actually available to everyone. When our "champagne on arrival" didn't arrive on arrival, and there was no mention of the $65 special when we placed our order, I enquired with the waitress. She asked if that's what was offered over the phone and I said yes. There was no drama after that and our champagne was served to us. Looks like the special was only available if you had made a reservation over the phone. If you had shown up without a reservation, saw the huge ship and still wanted to eat in, then you'll just have to pay full price.

Ocean Room
Bay 4 - Ground Level
Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West, The Rocks
Ph: (02) 9252 9585

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