So where are the best restaurants for eating the ocean's gifts? Whether you want to get around a whole mud crab at Mr Wong or try fish offal at Saint Peter, these are the best seafood restaurants in Sydney.
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Sydney's best seafood restaurants
What to order: Mud crab
How much? Market price
How is it served: Typhoon shelter crab, a style famously made at the Under Bridge Spicy Crab restaurant in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district, gets a Sydney edition in this beautiful second storey dining room above a pub in Enmore. They deep fry the crab with garlic, chilli and black bean and then add the fried pulp from housemade soy milk for crunch.
What to order: Kingfish
How much? $23
How is it served: Chef Shaun Presland has a very impressive résumé, including a stint at the world famous Nobu, which is what inspired one of the signature dishes at Saké in the Rocks. The Hiramasa kingfish is served sashimi style, dressed in one of the most show-stopping condiment combinations in the city: first the blushing fish pieces are anointed with a bright and sparky lime and jalapeño kosho (a classic Japanese paste of citrus, chilli and salt), before the flavours are layered with a coriander ponzu (citrus spiked soy).
What to order: Yabbies
How much? $36
How are they served: Your red claw yabbies sit in their shells upon a bed of saltbush (which, our chipper waitress tells us, is not to be eaten), though in actual fact, they’ve already been detached. Pick one up and place it upon one of the buckwheat pikelets in the accompanying basket. From the two pots in front of you, swipe on a lick of deeply fragrant lemon jam and another of cultured cream, fold the thing up, and eat. This dish is practically a legend. The sweetness of the lemon enriches, rather than overwhelms, the flavour of the cool, crunchy yabby; the cream lightens the load; and the buttery crumb of the pikelet leads the whole thing to perfection.
What to order: Pippies
How much? Market price
How is it served: Pippies in XO sauce is one of those dishes that are an essential order at any self respecting Chinese seafood restaurant. But at Mr Wong, a plate of those little tender cockles takes on a serious black tie attitude, dressed in one of the best XO sauces in the city and enjoyed in the closest thing Sydney has to a royal Cantonese dining room.
What to order: Marron
How much? $54
How is it served: This Surry Hills restaurant is famous not just for what they cook, but how they do it. Chef Lennox Hastie brought his love for cooking over fire and coals with him from his time at famed Basque restaurant Asador Etxebari. There are no gas or electric cooktops to be seen, and everything is cooked over red hot coals scooped out of the woodfire oven. And that goes for your marron too. The Western Australian crayfish are split and place over the glowing embers, seasoned with a little fresh citrus and served in the shell. Don’t leave anything behind.
What to order: King prawns
How much? $24
How are they served: Head down to the fresh harbourfront dining precinct at Barangaroo to get your hands on those sweet, tender little crustaceans, peeled out of their shells and dressed in a luxurious and fragrant curry leaf butter and pieces of pickled turmeric. It’s got a distinct South Indian flavour to it, perfect for hot nights in the city, and you’ll definitely be needing some bread to mop up any remaining butter sauce.
What to order: Oysters
How much? $4 each
How they are served: Freshly shucked, just as nature intended, because the less you do to an excellent oyster, the better. They are serious about their molluscs here. Creamy Sydney rock oysters come in from all across New South Wales – Wallis Lake, Port Stephens, Lake Wapengo, Pambula, Merimbula and Womboyn River – and the big briny Pacifics they bring in from Smoky Bay, Coffin Bay and Port Douglas in South Australia, plus Little Swanport and St Helens in Tasmania. What’s on offer each day is written up on the special board.
What to order: Caviar
How much? $200 for 30g
How is it served: It turns out that you can live like an empress and still be eating Australian produce, because while sturgeon might be the first thing you think of when you hear caviar, at Cirrus, the elegant waterfront diner in Barangaroo, they’ve put an Australian wild scampi caviar on the menu. Like all roe, it’s served with brioche and crème fraîche, which you’ll need to balance the intense, fresh brininess of the beautiful blue black eggs.
What to order: Fish
How much? $4.50-$40
How is it served: Saint Peter is Sydney’s only dedicated Australian seafood restaurant. It’s a simple set up in a beautiful sandstone-lined room along Oxford Street, but the magic is in the kitchen where chef Josh Niland is cooking with everything you know (and a whole lot you don’t) from the big blue. This guy is even up for a little fish offal if you’re feeling game. The menu changes every day, depending on what’s in season and looking mighty fine at the markets, so maybe you’ll be eating Spanish and blue mackerel, herring, wild kingfish, albacore, red mullet, King George whiting, hapuka and garfish, plus fresh oysters and any number of other surprise bites. Aside from dessert and the sides, everything is seafood, so this is the place to indulge in a serious aquatic culinary adventure.
What to order: Blue mussels
How much? $55
How are they served: Kinkawooka Shellfish in Port Lincoln produce some of the best mussels in the country, and at Rockpool Bar and Grill they come in a saffron broth with a South East Asian accent, lengthened with fish and mussel stock and riched up with crème fraîche. Joining the shellfish pool party are charcoal-roasted strawberry clams, southern calamari, baby octopus, white fish pieces and prawn
Want more seafood?
When it comes to hot weather outdoor dining, nothing beats golden, fried chips and a piece of fish. But what makes a really excellent fish supper? It's the quality of the batter through to the cut of the chip, the seasonings and sauces – are you for ketchup, vinegar, chicken salt, tartare of straight lemon juice. There’s a lot that goes into getting it just right, so we scoured the city to put together a list of ten the best to help you net the perfect catch.