So while we were looking for a degustation place for Michael's parents' Christmas present I managed to Google up some Groupon deals for The Rocks Teppanyaki. Obviously I'd never heard of the place before but most of the reviews online seemed positive and I have to admit that the menu posted for an 11-course meal sounded pretty delicious. Japanese and kaiseki? I was hooked. We decided not to get them for the parents but opted to get it for ourselves instead as my birthday dinner treat! :P
I don't think we've been to any fancy pants restaurants since we came back to Sydney so I was looking forward to it. That and the fact that it was Japanese restaurant, albeit fusion.
It's not too far from Circular Quay station and we didn't have too much trouble finding it. It wasn't open yet when we arrived (we had a 6pm reservation) so we just hung around outside and waited while Michael took a few shots.
I had requested a seat with a view but didn't realise that the restaurant is located in a house so there wasn't much of a view after all. They did however put us in a room with a window?
This room had two of the teppanyaki plates so the chef just alternates the cooking on either side.
We were given the drinks menu (they were all expensive so we didn't get any). Even water wasn't free! I was not impressed with that service. I hate it when restaurants don't give you free water :(
Since our menu was a set 11 course meal, we just waited for the staff to bring us the food/start cooking. They started by bringing us an entrée that I don't remember the name of. It was some kind of sashimi cut into cubes and served with some seaweed and sprouts and a spicy sauce. I didn't think much of it but Michael liked the spicyness. It was also teensy. That plate is essentially the size of a sauce dish. You know the ones you get in Chinese/Japanese restaurants for your soy sauce? That's the one.
This was the second course. The plate was placed on the ledge in front of us and the chef heated some olive oil on the teppan and then drizzled some of it onto each plate and served it to us. I enjoyed this because SCALLOP! I love scallop for the light, sweet flavour and the soft but firm texture. This particular scallop wasn't bad, not the most amazing scallop I've ever had but you know, I wouldn't say no to it. Just a bit sad that they were stingy and just cut one scallop into three thin slices.
So apparently this is the specialty of the restaurant. It was crab meat wrapped with seaweed with a thin slice of kingfish around it and drizzled with a mayonnaise sauce that the chef flambés with some wine and then blowtorches. Very showy cooking demo. I'm not sure if this is what teppanyaki in Japan is but when I was in Mauritius, the Japanese restaurant we used to go to also does the whole flashy cooking thing.
Taste-wise, I thought the crab meat goes well with the sauce. What doesn't go well with mayonnaise anyway?? But Michael thought it didn't taste crabby enough - maybe they didn't use super high quality crabmeat? The kingfish was a nice touch but the sauce overpowers it. I was hungry at the time so I think a slightly bigger portion would have been good.
I liked the salad! Mainly because I liked the dressing. I love Japanese style dressing because the flavours are so yummy! The prawn was nice and garlicky and the squid was soft and not too chewy.
The little cup on the side was cauliflower soup. I don't remember much of it now but apparently it was not overly rich but nothing amazing (according to Michael).
Michael is not the biggest fan of lobster because he doesn't think it has amazing taste. I can see what he means by it but I still enjoy it nonetheless. My serving of the lobster felt a tad overcooked because the chef served Michael first which means that my serving was left on the hotplate for longer. That thought was confirmed when I ate a bite of Michael's lobster.
Before we were served the wagyu, we were given a palate cleanser which I think was either yuzu or lemon sorbet.
The wagyu was nothing special to us (we've eaten our fair share of wagyu while we were in Japan) but the spinach and beansprouts combination was tasty. To be honest, the wagyu tasted like steak. Nothing like the melt-in-your-mouth experience you're supposed to get.
We also got garlic fried rice and miso soup that we didn't bother taking a picture of. Both of them were nothing special either.
Dessert! Basically everything was ready made and all the chef did was warm up the pancakes and flambés them with some Grand Marnier liquor. There was a tad too much liquor in my opinion because the heat didn't evaporate everything and you could still taste it. I didn't like it. Again, they were stingy with the orange slices. ONLY ONE FRIGGIN ORANGE SLICE???? Surely they could have given out a few more? Oranges aren't that expensive. Yeah, I was peeved.
Overall, it wasn't a bad experience but we definitely wouldn't pay full price for it. I'm glad we had a Groupon voucher.
Till the next meal or snack....