I had a fear of food halls. It was the thought of grease-oozing deep fried goods combined with the challenge to find a dining spot amongst condiment smears.
That was before Opera Kitchen.
As a food hall, you still have to DIY. Select the food, pay the cash, take a number and grab a seat to wait. Although music can drift over from the adjacent Opera Bar, there is not much ambience amongst the crowd of diners. The Opera Kitchen is primarily a pre or post-theatre venue, although with the impressive backdrop it can also be a great spot to show off Sydney to an overseas visitor.
The first of the contributors is high achiever Justin North with his Becasse Bakery and Charlie & Co Burgers. The traditional beef Wagyu & Co burger is perfect; a patty joined by sour pickled gherkins, sweet beetroot relish and salty aged cheddar in a brioche bun.
Then there are the seafood specialists; John Susman's Cloudy Bay Fish Co serves a tender plank roasted salmon that has been marinated in lemon and herbs. Kenji Nishinakagawa, the former sushi chef of the one-hatted Koi in Woolwich, runs Kenji, the sushi bar being the only section that takes bookings. His signature Kenji Roll indulgently includes salmon, prawn and roe. It tastes of the ocean.
The Queen of rice paper rolls, MissChu, completes the group. One of her vegetarian rice paper roll options combines free range egg omelette, avocado and caramelised onion. The onion gives that extra bit of excitement, without which there is need for more dips of the dipping sauce to keep hold of one's interest.
With these gastronomic minds in charge, there is no need for food hall fear. The only worry is choosing what to eat, or rather what not to eat - this time around.
NOTE: Reservations are only taken for Kenji sushi bar