We designated Day 2 of our time in Sydney for wandering around, given that it is a Friday, and our friends in Sydney were all working and could only meet us that evening or the next day.
We began the day with a visit to the Sydney Fish Market in the late morning, so we could grab brunch at the market. When I think of fish markets, Tsukiji market in Tokyo comes to mind, so when we got to the Sydney Fish Market, I was somewhat disappointed that it seemed to only consist of 2 blocks of shops. I had expected something more sprawling, even if not quite on the same scale as Tsukiji.
The market being rather small-scale aside, it was seafood galore. Each of the shops selling seafood had a wide range of seafood on display.
All kinds of fresh seafood – oysters, shellfish, abalone!
After wandering around the different shops for a bit, we decided to eat at Peter’s, as that was recommended in a blog I had read, and the life-size statue of Peter (presumably) standing outside of the shop drew me in with how cute it looked.
Grilled mixed seafood platter, grilled lobster & fried calamari.
The seafood was fresh, but the cooking methods leave much to be desired. Most of the seafood items were over-cooked, which was a real shame. I would have been happier if I had bought the fresh seafood, and cooked it myself. Sadly, we were staying in a hotel in Sydney instead of a serviced apartment. If our lodging had a kitchen, I would have bought a ton of seafood and experimented with them in a heartbeat!
After the fish market, we decided to simply wander around (somewhat) aimlessly back towards the Pitt Street area for shopping, rather than catch a bus. It was wonderful walking in the sunshine, in no particular hurry.
Darling Harbour/Cocklebay Wharf area.
After our stroll, B and I split up, and I went shopping while he went to visit some business contacts in North Sydney, and most of my afternoon was whiled away in the shopping district around Pitt Street and it’s surrounding streets. While it was interesting to browse in the shops, there weren’t any particularly interesting brands I discovered. Guess Australian fashion’s not quite my cup of tea.
Before long, it was evening, and time for us to meet our friend C for drinks, followed by dinner. Dinner was at Rockpool, located in a stately old building. Sadly, it was dark by the time we got to the restaurant since it’s autumn/winter and night falls early , and I could not get any decent pictures of its exterior.
Rockpool restaurant entrance.
The interior of the restaurant was, believe it or not, even darker than it was outside. So, please forgive the upcoming ill-lit photos.
I kid you not. Check out how dark the restaurant was!
The dinner menu at Rockpool is a semi-degustation menu. It comes with 8 little starter items, the pre-dessert and petit fours which are pre-determined, and diners get to choose the number of mains and desserts they wish to have. The flexibility is great, as you can decide how many mains/desserts you wish to have, and choose what it is that you want.
The way the starters were served was fun and creative, making dinner a bit of a theatrical event. Thumbs up to the team for injecting fun into fine dining!
Starter no. 1 – Prawn tempura with daikon & soy. Crispy and light bite-sized morsel.
We were instructed not to eat the leaf on the plate that the prawn tempura was served on, and seconds later, the reason was revealed.
Starter no. 2 – Charcoal grilled prawn with shiso & nam prik.
The grilling was finished at the table, and the prawn served on the leaf mentioned earlier. The prawn was succulent and juicy, and though like the first dish, it is (obviously) a prawn dish, the texture and flavour of the 2 dishes couldn’t be more different.
Starter no. 3 – Chicken wing with egg batter & Komi butter.
The chicken wing was crispy, and the sauce added a fragrant creamy touch. Perfect indulgent combination when you are only eating a small tasting portion, but I imagine I would be quite buttered-out if I had to eat an entire portion of it.
Starter no. 4 – Mini bahn mi.
This was probably my favorite dish of the meal. The little bahn mi burger was sooooo cute, and light and fluffy. The chefs were also really accommodating. The original bahn mi comes with pork belly, but they replaced the pork belly with fish for me when informed of my dietary preferences. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the pork belly version of the bahn mi in the background.
Starter no. 5 – Mini chirashi zushi.
Once again, top marks for presentation, serving the mini deconstructed chirashi zushi on a shell. The sashimi was fresh, and the kimchi that accompanied it was surprisingly good. Although I usually avoid kimchi like the plague, I finished every bit of this dish. This dish gave the bahn mi a run for its money as my favorite dish of the meal.
Starter no. 6 – Spanner crab with scallop mousse on a piece of steamed bun.
This was somewhat of a miss. The entire dish was just a tad too soggy and mushy, and I couldn’t distinguish between the crab, the scallop mousse and the bun.
Starter no. 7 – Yellow-eyed mullet with clams and parsley butter.
The fish was cooked just right, but what stood out more was the sake-flavoured clam!
Starter no. 8 – Honey and spelt bread served with Rockpool butter and ricotta.
The combination of the bread subtly flavoured with honey and the butter was perfect. The Ricotta was a bit of a disappointment, and we gave up on it after trying just a little bit.
Mains – B’s pigeon zheng shui dan.
We were very amused by how Chinese this dish was. It was essentially braised pigeon, served with steamed egg custard made with pigeon broth. I had a little taste of the pigeon and am pleased to report that it was tender and flavourful.
Mains – Laurel smoked eight treasure quail in Szechuan broth that C and I both opted for.
So we thought we were amused by B’s pigeon dish, but that amusement paled in comparison with how we felt when we saw this dish. This dish reminded us so much of lotus leaf wrapped rice that you typically find in Chinese dim sum restaurants that we couldn’t stop laughing throughout our main. Problem was, with all that laughing, I don’t remember very much about this dish other than that it was quite delicious.
B also had a second main, the lamb, but it was simply impossible to get even a half-decent photo of it, so no photo of that dish (sorry, folks). B did mention that he would recommend the lamb to others visiting the restaurant.
When it came to time to take orders for desserts, B threw in the towel, leaving C and I to soldier on, and order a dessert each. But before we had dessert proper, we all had a pre-dessert to cleanse the palate.
Pre-dessert – Refreshing yogurt sorbet.
My dessert – Strawberries & cream ricotta parfait.
The green sorbet was the surprise factor in this dessert. It turned out to be parsley flavoured sorbet, and though I consumed quite a few spoonful trying to figure out what it is, once I did, the thought of eating a parsley-based dessert was too strange for me to finish the rest of the sorbet.
The meal at Rockpool was extremely fun, and I enjoyed it a lot more then I expected to. I had thought that I would be disappointed given how wonderful the meal the previous night was, but I wasn’t! The meals were completely different, with Rockpool being more modern fusion and Tetsuya being more modern Japanese. Granted, the Tetsuya meal was definitely better, but with it being twice the price of the meal at Rockpool, it’d better be better.
I would recommend Rockpool to anyone looking for a fine-dining experience that does not break the bank. If dinner’s not your kind of thing, Rockpool also does a very reasonably priced lunch.
Sydney Fish Market
Pyrmont Bridge Rd
Pyrmont NSW 2009
11 Bridge Street