Last year, Flying Fish was announced Restaurant of the year (Darling Harbour area) at The Concierge industry awards. Other winners also include Catalina, Aria and Rockpool Bar & Grill. Having dined at the latters and been very impressed with their food, I became determined to visit Flying Fish.
After many delays, I was finally able to pay it a proper visit. Not to my surprise, it is one of the best seafood-centric restaurants in Sydney, as expected of a restaurant that prides itself in its skills with seafood and innovative flavour combinations.
My favourite part of every meal: Complementary bread
First up, we got appetisers (or ‘snacks’ as they call them) while we waited for the first course to arrive. Crackers were served with mayonnaise and a slight dust of wasabi powder. The second snack was grilled baby corn. Lastly, soft boiled quail eggs with mayo and corn silk.
Spencer Gulf prawn, nashi, Jerusalem artichoke, coconut & soured milk
There were some rather interestingly contrasting textures in the first course. I like how the prawn was served as a tartare. It kept the prawn very tender where it essentially melted in your mouth. The dish also had some crunch coming from the coconut and thin artichoke crisps.
The nashi added a mild and elegant sweetness to the dish while the soured milk and parsley oil provided the right amount of creaminess. This dish was very close to perfection, taste-wise and look-wise. It definitely set a high bar for the subsequent courses.
Seared tuna, grapefruit, black pepper caramel, crisp pork
The tuna was very well-cooked and still retained a firm texture and not-overly-fatty flavour. The pork belly, on the other hand, had a soft, almost melt-in-your-mouth texture (almost, some chewing was still required). The grapefruit added a zesty and slightly bitter taste, which I think goes well with the tuna.
Black pepper caramel is an interesting choice of sauce to serve with seared tuna. It still gives me conflicting thoughts though. The crushed black pepper spiced up the thick caramel with a tangy taste. However, this tanginess reminded me of a Chinese sweet and sour marinate, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but this combination just didn’t work for me.
Moreton Bay bugs, brown butter emulsion, brussel sprouts, aged balsamic
By the time we sampled the third course I came to a concrete conclusion that Flying Fish does seafood exceptionally well. The bugs were cooked to perfection, tender and juicy (Oh boy I hope you haven’t gotten bored of me saying this again and again. But what more can I say? Their execution of seafood is just… *slow clap*). The brown butter emulsion was buttery but not overly creamy. On top of that, the aged balsamic vinegar elevated the dish to another level. It added the right amount of acidity that cut through the creaminess of the emulsion. Meanwhile, the dried brussel spouts gave a crispy texture. Another love!
Seared scallops, confit baby octopus, polenta, squid ink potato
The scallop was perfectly caramelised on both sides with the inside remaining tender. The baby octopus was a tiny bit rubbery, but not too severe. The potato was light and airy. Overall although it is a nice dish, there’s nothing we have not seen before.
King George whiting, dashi potato, clams, finger lime, tonburi
The skin side of the whiting was very crispy while the other side was perfectly moist and tender. The battered clams gave a different texture to the dish (even though it is not quite visible in the photo). The potato cooked in Dashi stock added a nice Japanese touch. A friend of mine commented that this dish had a very ocean-y feel to it, all thanks to the tonburi (or ‘land caviar’, as it is often referred to). I think she’s absolutely right and the East-West combination worked this time.
Lamb eye of loin, charred leek, romesco, olive, anchovy
Our last savoury course before desserts and also the only non-seafood course in the entire tasting menu. Unfortunately, it was one of the weaker dishes and definitely not on par with previous ones in terms of taste and presentation. The lamb was cooked nicely but lacked seasoning. The dish overall was very plain and didn’t appeal to me visually, either.
The complementary salad was a real saviour for the above lamb dish. The dressing was delish; it made the whole dish come together.
Onetik Petit Basquitou, pear, chestnut puree, linseed crisp
This is arguably the most confusing and questionable dish in the menu (Is it a dessert? But why is it savoury as well? Or is it a pre-dessert?). The taste of Basquito cheese (made in France) was very strong, and as I was not accustomed to eating very strong cheese, made me feel a bit overwhelmed.
Stout cake, fermented fig jam, blackberries, barley ice cream
A combination of sponge cake and beer, this dish sure had some potential. And it did not disappoint. The cake was not overly sweet, which is always a deal breaker for me when it comes to desserts. The dark beer gave a pleasant but standout roasted flavour. The addition of blackberries were nice (who doesn’t love some good berries?). Nonetheless, the real hero of this dessert was the barley ice cream. It was silky smooth, not one tiny piece of ice was detected. All the elements were tied in nicely and I approve of this dessert.
Caramelised coconut panna cotta, mango sorbet, lime
Just when I thought the previous dessert was good, this one was even better. The richness of the coconut and the burnt sugar flavour from the caramel created one hell of an indulgent combo. Unlike regular sorbet, which tends to be more icy in texture, the mango chilli sorbet was very silky and smooth, comparable to the barley ice cream of the previous dessert. Its tartness helped cut through the sweetness of the panna cotta.
Meanwhile, the chilli gave the dish a mild spicy kick, very interesting. I never quite get the idea of using foam in desserts (or food in general); they are more of a gimmick to me. However, the aerated lemonade did add a zesty flavour which, when combined with the sorbet, provided a pleasant sourness to an otherwise very sweet dessert. What a nice way to conclude a 4-hour long tasting session.
Petits fours (Marshmallow and chocolate truffle)
Look up! There are shooting stars
Located on Jones Bay Wharf, Flying Fish restaurant has a stunning view of Sydney Harbour. The dining room will enchant you with its beautiful interior and equally beautiful food. It’s a perfect destination for a date night, a special occasion, or perhaps a treat for yourself if you have been very good this month *wink*.
Flying Fish Restaurant & Bar
21 Pirrama Rd
Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Contributed by Hannah, who dined as a guest on behalf of 2 Hungry Guys