Fine Dining

Manta @ Sydney

From pasture to plate, from the fishermen to the table, Manta chefs know the names of the persons that grow and catch your dinner.

Chef Steve Hetherington

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Chef Steve Hetherington

The chef cooking for us that evening was Chef Steve. Born in North Ryde, Steve began cooking for his family at the age of nine. He pursued his passion for formal training through TAFE where he was awarded apprentice of the year and placed 3rd in the Nestle Golden Chefs Hat awards in 2004. Steve continued his learning at various venues, including esteemed Sydney restaurant, Aria.

Steve joined Manta as Chef de partie and has worked passionately alongside the Executive Chef, Daniel Hughes. Steve has always been forward thinking with his menu choices and after Manta’s full refurbishment, his fresh approach to Manta’s menu sees the appointment as Head Chef as a much deserved one.

The Manta Experience (at AUD 98++ per person at time of writing) would be the best way to enjoy the variety of seafood that Manta has to offer with a tasting portion of the highlights.

Manta Experience

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Organic flat and sourdough bread

Organic flat and sourdough bread, seasoned with black pepper, fennel seeds, oregano, sea salt, served with Manta’s extra virgin olive oil and chickpea, pumpkin, sumac spread.

The Manta’s extra virgin olive oil and chickpea, pumpkin, sumac spread is like a heavily spiced hummus and it goes very well with the exceptional breads. The organic flat bread is fluffy and moist, so good we could not resist having too much of it. The sourdough is good, but it has deviated from the original. I guess not many Sydneysiders are used to sour bread (neither do I).

Raw + Cured + Smoked

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Raw tasting plate

(Top, clockwise) Hiramasa kingfish carpaccio, (Spencer Gulf, SA), green apple, spring onion, black pepper vinaigrette, sorrel
Petuna ocean trout tartare, (Tas), toasted sesame seeds, soy & yuzu dressing
‘St. Jacques’ Canadian Atlantic scallop ceviche, chilli, garlic, finger lime, fennel

Three very outstanding starters, all featuring raw seafood. The Hiramasa kingfish has the same taste and texture profile like hamachi so the vinaigrette dressing is just perfect for it. Sliced scallops with fennel, I have not thought it would match so nicely too, so simple that you can try it at home. But it was the ocean trout tartare that blew our minds. Texture like tuna but taste like salmon, the trout is marinated with soy and yuzu, so it is like akamizuke (marinated tuna) . I thought it was, but I never had it outside of Japan. This is the closest to that experience so far.

Oysters

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Selection of Oysters

Selection of oysters, freshly shucked to order, served with lemon and green apple, spring onion & Italian white balsamic dressing.

Rock oysters from the outskirts of Sydney, I forgot to take down the varieties, but they were from the Central Coast. Not outstanding, it’s winter in Australia, the oysters are not primed for consumption.

Starters

Blue swimmer crab lasagne, Shark Bay, WA, Moreton Bay bug & crab bisque.

All fine dining restaurants must have a course features table service. Firstly, the lasagne was brought to the table, each one of us have a half portion (vs the ala carte menu). It was still a decent portion. The lasagne was not what we thought vs traditional ones. It is layers of lasagne pasta with bergamot sauce and blue swimmer crab meat in between and minimal baking to brown the pasta.

Then the crayfish and crab bisque was poured on the lasagne. Every mouthful you can taste the sweetness of the blue swimmer crab and umami from the bisque. So good I wanted it to last forever.

Sharing

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Seared ‘St. Jacques’ Canadian Atlantic scallops

Seared ‘St. Jacques’ Canadian Atlantic scallops, roasted butternut pumpkin purée, broccolini, sage, pine nuts, brown butter

The same scallops served during the starters are featured in the sharing course, this time seared to bring a different dimension to the sweetness of the scallops. Strangely, when seafood is slightly burnt, the flavour profile changed and umami is released in abundance. The mashed pumpkin puree with crispy broccolini steal the show for the scallops.

Mains

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Whole split king prawns and sourdough crumbed King George whiting

The mains came as a large plate for sharing.

Crustaceans & Live

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Whole split king prawns

Whole split king prawns, lemon, garlic, herb & black pepper

Every dinner would have a least favourite dish. This would be it. I find the prawns overcooked, but that’s how most Westerners would take for doneness for crustaceans. I like them undercooked. Also I am used to live prawns, so this is not so fresh for me.

Fish

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Sourdough crumbed King George whiting

Sourdough crumbed King George whiting, Kangaroo Island, SA, Kipfler potatoes, preserved lemon, honey dill mustard dressing

It’s the upgraded fish and chips. While chips were served on the sides, the fish was served on a bed of German-style potato salad with its lemony mustard dressing and potato cooked al dente. Excellent fish, the crumbs were crispy and not oily. Whiting is a very bland fish, so it has to borrow flavours from everything else.

Sides

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Manta hand cut ‘angel’ chips

(L-R) Manta hand cut ‘angel’ chips, truffle, parmesan
Large leaf rocket, shaved fennel, yellow peach, 24 month parmesan, white balsamic
Hand cut chips, Murray River sea salt (Sebago, Qld)

The chips were fantastic! Crispy on the outside, moist and soft inside, and the sea salt is so tasty. Forget about the truffle and parmesan, the plain ones are good enough.

Desserts

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Autumn pavlova

Autumn pavlova, Vanilla bean yoghurt, fresh figs, honeycomb, Manuka honey 2 ways.

Instead of the NZ style pavlova, they have done a flat pavlova and it is further sweetened by Manuka honey, both as a drizzling on the frozen vanilla yoghurt, and as a honeycomb. Sweetness overdosed, but the taste is so layered and complex, I like it.

The Ambiance

Located at the Woolloomooloo Wharf, on the side of Ovolo (used to W Sydney), this is a very good restaurant in a very chic neighbourhood. It is very suitable for a quiet date, and if the weather permits, sit along the wharf and see the luxury yachts parked along the wharf.

The service at the place was fantastic, the waiting staff appeared whenever our glasses were empty and discretely disappeared after they were refilled. The pace of the dinner was a bit of a quick match, but not to the frantic pace at some Michelin restaurants that I would rather not named.

We had our dinner at 6pm, so I guessed it was too early for most Sydneysiders. But as we come to the end of our dinner, the place was packed. The food was good, and portions were quite big. So it was very suitable to share some of the mains. But because we had the tasting menu, everything was portioned for us. There were still too much food.

Manta Restaurant
6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo New South Wales 2011
Tel : 02 9332 3822

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Date Visited : Jul 2019

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