There are quite a few premium restaurants housed within the Overseas Passengers Terminal which sits right on Sydney Harbour and tonight we are dining at Ocean Room which serves up elegant fusion Japanese cuisine. The restaurant is glamorously decorated with classy wooden touches and makes the most of the location with a stunning view of the Opera House visible through the clear glass windows at the back. We are lucky to have a window table and marvel at the view before perusing the menu.
A newish addition to The Rocks dining precinct is a shiny, upbeat French Mediterranean bistro restaurant with a glossy bar right next door to The Argyle. The fun decor pays homage to their delightfully fruity name Ananas (pineapple in French) which is reflected in the golden pineapples hanging from the ceiling and evokes images of the glitzy opulence of the French Riviera.
At the intersection of The Rocks and Circular Quay areas of George Street sits Grain Bar, a sleek new venue located at the Four Seasons Hotel. It is all polished wooden surfaces with touches of copper in the decor and a dimly lit interior which lends it a sophisticated vibe, making it a popular Friday night work drinks spot.
After our first visit to Pony at Neutral Bay, I was keen to try out Pony’s proper food instead of just dessert, and it sure did live up to the high standards that the desserts had set in my mind. We tried out Pony at The Rocks for lunch this time and found it to be quite delicious Modern Australian cuisine at a decent price point considering the location of the restaurant.
We started with a couple of oysters with Nahm Jim dressing and crisp eschallots. I love that they allow you to order the oysters individually rather than as a pre-set batch of a dozen or half because sometimes I don’t feel like eating that many oysters at once. The raw oysters were very fresh, although not very big. The Thai inspired sour and slightly chilli dressing complemented the freshness of the oysters well and the fried onions sprinkled on top added a nice crunch.
Oysters with Nahm Jim dressing ($3.90 each)
As another starter we also ordered their grilled chorizo which came with coriander as well as a tasty tomato and chilli jam to mix it with. The chorizo alone was bursting with savoury goodness but the sauce added a great layer of tang to it.
Grilled chorizo, $9.60
We also decided to try their seared sirloin which was very tender and soft, just slightly cooked but mostly still rare and drizzled with soy basil dressing which brought out the flavour of the beef.
Seared sirloin, $12.30
For our main dish, we shared a linguine with prawns and a rich tomato sauce. The prawns were succulent and fresh, as well as de-shelled (just the way us lazy people like it) and the sauce was appropriately chunky with some onions mixed in throughout. It wasn’t a huge serving considering the price, but it was still enough to share after all those starters we had already.
Linguine with prawns $32
The décor of Pony at The Rocks is a different type of sleek compared to the Neutral Bay restaurant which has more of a lounge vibe to it. The Rocks branch feels more like a proper restaurant with a modern wooden interior and an open kitchen that has a cute pony hair design bench in reference to its name and a long wooden table outside for those days where you’d rather soak up the sun or enjoy the balmy weather at night.
Pony Lounge and Dining
14-15 Kendall Lane
The Rocks NSW 2000
(02) 9252 7797
I never knew that a gorgeous Japanese fusion restaurant was tucked inside the building next to the Argyle at the Rocks, but this spacious restaurant with a contemporary timber interior is a hidden treasure that I am going to share with you all. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake and walk straight past it like I used to.
We’re led down the stairs upon entry to the main dining area and the multicultural staff all yell out “irasshaimase” (‘welcome’ in Japanese) in varying degrees of fluency. It’s a cute touch but apart from that traditional greeting, everything else about Sake screams out modern Japanese fusion, from the simple yet classy wooden furniture to the interesting choices on the menu. The waiter informs us that they don’t distinguish between entrees and mains and the chefs will determine which order best to serve the dishes to maximise the experience for us.
We start with a generous serving of Popcorn Shrimp, a fantastic twist on popcorn chicken which tastes amazing; soft, juicy bite-sized prawns are battered and fried with spicy mayo sauce and topped with chives. It’s incredibly moreish and I pretty much end up chowing down the whole bowl myself. I’d come back for this dish alone, definitely.
Popcorn shrimp, $29
Then came the Sashimi Tacos which are tiny crispy tacos encasing diced salmon and tuna (one of each) and accompanied by two small shot glasses of sake, with sugar encrusted rims. The fish is fresh but I wish there was more because one little bite is hardly enough. The sake goes down easiest when drunk as a shot but my friend sips it and enjoys the melting of the sugar on the rim too.
Sashimi tacos, $17
The Miso Cream Scallops are served next with soft mushrooms, asparagus and sweet baby corn. I’m a sucker for scallops and these are beautifully done, succulent and have absorbed the miso cream flavour well.
Miso cream scallops, $31
Last but not least is the Spider maki soft shell crab sushi roll. It’s decent, lightly crunchy where it should be and nicely rolled but nothing remarkable as the rest of the dishes of the night were much more memorable.
Spider maki sushi roll, $18
The servings are not particularly filling at Sake, especially for the price that you pay so I wouldn’t recommend this place for big eaters but rather for those who like to savour quality food in smaller portions and in an upmarket, yet unpretentious environment.
Saké Restaurant & Bar
12 Argyle Street
The Rocks NSW 2000
Phone: (02)9259 5656