This year I decided to take Dylan to Flying Fish for his birthday. I’d been a couple of times for corporate lunches but Dylan had never managed to get there himself. He bought me Peter Kuruvita’s My Sri Lanka DVD for my birthday and although Peter no longer works at Flying Fish, once Dylan watched the show he understood the concept behind the restaurant and why I think so highly of it. Little did he know I’d booked it in as a surprise birthday dinner.
Flying Fish first opened its doors back in 2003 with Peter Kuruvita at the helm. Designed by none other than Michael McCann, the restaurant spans two storeys of Pyrmont’s historic Jones Bay Wharf. The interior pays homage to the wharf’s industrial heritage with exposed beams and rustic colour palette. Stunning views of Sydney’s harbour, an open kitchen and an outdoor bar area (Little Fish) complete the restaurant.
Peter led the kitchen team for 8 years as Executive Chef, but in 2012 he handed the reigns over to his Head Chef, Stephen Seckold, who had been his right hand man for 4 years. Peter has since moved into a consultancy role with Stephen stepping into the Executive Chef role and Ian Royle taking up position as Head Chef.
The team know seafood and are renowned for their Asian inspired dishes thanks to Peter’s Sri Lankan background. It had been a while since my last dining experience at Flying Fish and we couldn’t wait to see what the team were up to.
Pappadam with smoked salmon mousse.
Shortly after we were seated an amuse bouche arrived. From the get go I loved the presentation; they looked like leaves on a wooden surface and I was intrigued as to how they would taste. Firstly, the pappadam itself was airy and light, then the smoothness of the salmon mousse hit only to be followed up by smokiness on the back palate.
Sashimi Traditional – Yellowfin Tuna, Ocean Trout, Snapper, Kingfish, Whiting, Trevally Nigiri ($47.00 entree size).
Having dined at Flying Fish before and knowing all about their sashimi offering I simply couldn’t go past it. And because Dylan loves his sashimi as much as me we decided to start with sashimi, then entrees and mains, and see if we had room left over for dessert.
Half a dozen varieties of sashimi feature on the ‘Sashimi Traditional’ entree size platter. Yellowfin Tuna and Ocean Trout stole the show, Snapper and Kingfish solid performers as always, the nigiri doing its job nicely and the slightly chewy Whiting my least favourite of the night. An impressive array of gorgeous fish and a great way to start any meal.
Sake served chilled or warm (90mL) – Amanoto Junmai Daiginjo, Akita, Japan ($30.00).
Dylan is a big fan of Junmai Daiginjo style sake so it was an easy decision to go with the sashimi. It had a lovely texture and was very well balanced. Dylan liked it so much he had to have another.
Seared Yellowfin tuna, pork belly, pink grapefruit, black pepper caramel ($33.00).
When Dylan and I eat out we can usually guess what each other is going to order. There are various proteins we are drawn to and order more often than not. This was not such an occasion, for some reason we both ordered differently than we normally would with me choosing the tuna (something Dylan normally can’t go past) and Dylan ordering spanner crab (something I often choose).
Where do I start with this entree? How about the tuna, the bright, glistening tuna. It was love at first sight. Yellowfin tuna is one of my favourite fish and it impresses all on its own. But the addition of the black pepper caramel was both unique and inspired. Sticky and sweet with an underlying pepper tone to it, I loved the caramel with the tuna. The wonders of the dish didn’t stop there though. As well as sweet and peppery the grapefruit poked its head in with a tart hit every now and then, suitably interrupting the rich caramel and pepper. That gorgeous piece of crackling was awesome in both texture and flavour and it was just the pork belly itself that didn’t do much for me, but that would be splitting hairs. Belly aside this was a cracker of an entree and it’s no surprise this is their signature dish – the only dish that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened. Impressive!
Spanner crab, palm hearts, finger lime, szechuan oil & crisp duck skin ($29.00).
Just as Dylan had been surprised with my decision I was shocked with his. To be honest I was convinced he was going for the tuna but it was the lure of szechuan oil and duck skin that won him over. Our waitress warned Dylan his entree was a cold dish which I think is a courteous thing to do. No doubt diners often think one thing and react poorly when their expectations are not met.
Flying Fish nail the presentation of all their dishes; the spanner crab served in a pretty little circle. As anticipated the spanner crab was delicate and light and my immediate thought was it would make a perfect summer dish. A great textural dish with the pop of the roe and finger lime (another little obsession of Dylan’s). Our main qualm with this entree was we wanted more from the pepper oil. The initial taste had me jumping with excitement but then it petered out and I was left wanting more. It was a shame it was a cold autumn evening as the crab didn’t win me over as the tuna did.
Cone Bay Barramundi, white curry sauce, curry leaf prawns, condiments ($43.00).
Wow, wow, wow. I’d recommend you book into Flying Fish right now and ensure this is on the menu. The best crispy skin barramundi I have ever had. Ever. Then I tried the curry sauce and more wow. The curry as a sauce didn’t overpower the dish and was thick enough not to swamp the fish. Sweetness of the date puree on top of the cigar balanced really well with the peppery curry. Gorgeous, pillowy rice with hints of cardamom rounded it off. Great flavours and textures and overall a well executed dish.
Charred Cape Grim beef fillet, smoked short rib, beetroot, turnip & red salt ($43.00).
You may take the boy out of the steakhouse but you can’t take the steak away from the boy! Truthfully he was hoping for scallops or some other seafood but just not fish. None of the seafood mains caught his attention but the beef fillet on the other hand was more than happy to sneak its way in.
Wonderfully cooked the fillet was a generous portion, super soft and juicy. Personally I wasn’t a fan of the short rib as I found the smokiness a little too intense though Dylan enjoyed the contrast between the two cuts. Earthy beetroot and pickled turnip matched well to the beef. A great beef dish from a restaurant renowned for seafood.
Compressed heirloom tomatoes, basil seeds, goat’s curd ($15.00).
A healthy side of tomatoes was a whole lot more than just tomatoes. Better than most sides I’ve come across of late, the variation in sour and sweet amongst the tomatoes was superb, the tart goat’s curd completed it. Similarities in flavour of the tomato dish we had not long before at Garagistes; something has got to be said for the amazingness that is tomato + basil + curd. A great little salad.
Coconut Soufflé with honeycomb and caramelised banana semifreddo ($19.00).
By the time dessert rolled around I knew this: that soufflé was going to be mine. For about a minute we had decided to share a soufflé. But then we spotted the apple dessert with caramel miso parfait and curiosity got the better of us, we ordered both.
Soufflés can be wow moments or they can go down like a lead balloon. Luckily for us this was a wow moment. Very nicely cooked, awesome toasted coconut, tangy lime sorbet, caramelised banana and creamy, sweet, rich honeycomb. I loved all the components on their own and combined. Sensational, that is all.
Cider braised apple, apple tapioca, sesame praline & caramel miso parfait ($18.00).
The final dish of the night was the gorgeous apple dessert. An arrangement of textures weaving flavours of apple, miso, sesame and caramel together. Hints of miso, black sesame, white sesame and toffee popped up amongst the braised apple, apple puree and apple tapioca. Gingerbread spiced crumbs were rather forgotten in the mix but that didn’t matter, all the other elements worked in harmony to create a nicely balanced dessert.
Tea and coffee served with petits fours ($7.00).
But wait, there’s more. After a platter of sashimi, entrees, mains and dessert we still had to have a coffee. It aids digestion, trust me. Dylan couldn’t stomach the petits fours but nothing would get in my way. A little ball of crunch, the truffle had a wonderful crisp shell and soft centre. While many of you know macarons are not my favourite sweet treat these little popcorn and salted caramel ones were just the right amount of salty and sweet to finish the night on.
And there you have it. I finally got Dylan to Flying Fish and he loved it. All the dishes were quite incredible and the restaurant itself is rather stunning. I don’t often think about heading over to Pyrmont for dinner but it’s something we should do more often. Gorgeous food and wonderful service in a picturesque setting.
Jones Bay Wharf
19-21 Pirrama Rd
Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 9518 6677
Flying Fish Website