There is no better excuse than a birthday to go for something a little over the top, and for my 29th it had to be Tetsuya’s. This was the last of the ‘big ones’ on our list of restaurants to eat at, well at least in this country anyway, and I was more excited than I had ever thought I would be. I was lucky enough to share my birthday dinner with 7 of my closest friends so we could all marvel in the experience that is Tetsuya’s.
Right from the get go the service was impeccable, our sommelier for the night gave us a light run through the mechanics of the evening’s wine matchings and advised if there was a wine we disliked he would find an alternative, if there was a wine we wished to know more about he was happy to help and best of all if there was a particular wine we found sensational he was happy to top us up. I was very impressed to say the least and the only real service glitch was when our waiter wished me a happy birthday but somehow thought my name was Stuart.
11 course degustation $210.00 per person / with matched wines $305.00 per person
- Chilled cucumber soup with sheep yoghurt ice cream
- Sashimi of yellow fin tuna with shishito and garlic chips (Tengumai Bunseirokunen Junmai Sake for Tetsuya’s, Ishikawa, Japan)
- Marinated NZ scampi with curd and junsai (2009 Rusden Christian Chenin Blanc, Barossa Valley, SA)
- Confit Petuna ocean trout with konbu, celery and apple (2010 Skillogalee Gewurztraminer, Clare Valley, SA)
- Steamed Murray cod with blackbean and bacon (2008 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya’s, Margaret River, WA)
- Braised ox tail with sea cucumber and lotus root (2010 Foster E Rocco Nuovo Sangiovese, Heathcote, VIC)
- Roasted breast of Quail with pine mushrooms and lardo (2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir for Tetsuya’s, Gippsland, VIC)
- Beef short rib with beetroot jus and wasabi mustard (2008 Collector Marked Tree Red Shiraz, Canberra District, NSW)
- Sorbet of pione grapes and tarte tatin (2010 Heggies Botrytis Riesling, Eden Valley, SA)
- Genoa figs with leatherwood honey and fig leaf ice cream
- Chocolate pavé with cream cheese ice cream and cinnamon twigs / Tetsuya’s Birthday Cake (Seppeltsfield Cellar No. 6 Tokay, Rutherglen, VIC)
- Chai mochi
Chilled cucumber soup with sheep yoghurt ice cream.
It had begun, our first course arrived and we were all eager to dig in. Served in a martini glass the vibrant green soup really caught my attention and the slowly melting quenelle of sheep yoghurt ice cream blended in superbly. Refreshing and light the cucumber soup was so full of flavour, the punch of sheep’s milk made for a tremendous contrast and a few light drops of oil rounded off the flavours for a suitable start to our evening.
Sashimi of yellow fin tuna with shishito and garlic chips.
When offered the optional course of oysters the response from everyone at the table was feeble at best, I think we were all just happy to get straight to the sashimi. Presented on a lovely rustic stone plate the dish was appealing in its wonderful simplicity. It was the garlic chips that wowed me at first, so intense and crunchy but never too strong to overwhelm the amazing tuna and its superb dressing. The shishito are a mild and pleasant pepper (capsicum) and were a fitting compliment to the tuna and garlic.
Marinated NZ scampi with curd and junsai.
I don’t often eat scampi but that is only because it is rarely on any menu I come across. Served as a small cylinder there was a small bed of spinach that the firm tofu curd rested on and the uncooked marinated scampi lay on top with a light finishing of junsai. With great anticipation I took my first bite and instantly felt this could be the dish of the night. The flesh was simply amazing and truly unlike anything I could have imagined. The whole dish was just a perfect balance of texture and flavours, and everyone bar Em tended to agree.
Confit Petuna ocean trout with konbu, celery and apple.
Where do you start with such a dish? This is ‘the’ dish that really put Mr Wakuda on the map. Faultless in its presentation I admired the sheer perfection on everyone’s plate; all were picture perfect and we could not wait to start. The trout was out of this world, such a delicate flavour afforded by the confit cooking technique and accompanied by the salty crust of kombu. The apple and celery gave a sweet and refreshing twist and really helped tame the shear potency of the trout roe. I had never experienced caviar of such calibre but when paired with the trout it was easy to see why they had been combined. It is clearly evident why this is and always will be on the menu.
Steamed Murray cod with blackbean and bacon.
With a light broth surrounding the cod I quite liked the visual simplicity of the dish. While visually simple, the complex balance of flavours made this a masterfully crafted course. The small crisp of bacon contrasted with the succulent steamed cod and the blackbean imparted its salty and pungent flavour, but it was the broth that really made this dish complete, not a drop of it was left in anyone’s bowl.
Braised ox tail with sea cucumber and lotus root.
Our first meat course and I was curious to find out how this combination would go. A slice of lotus root was hidden beneath a blanket of braised ox tail and a generous portion of sea cucumber was draped over the beef. With my first taste of all three elements I was hooked. The lotus root was so creamy and smooth and it really helped balance the rich melt in your mouth ox tail with its gelatinous texture. The jelly-like sea cucumber was more textural than flavourful but it still felt right at home in this dish.
Roasted breast of Quail with pine mushrooms and lardo.
Quail is such a glorious ingredient so I always tend to get excited when it is on the menu. I had expected a crispy skinned masterpiece so I was surprised to see the skin looking pale. Pale or not the taste was exactly what I had expected, superbly tender with that great roasted flavour. The small cubes of pine mushroom and meaty part of lardo were quite soft and flavoursome lending their distinctness to the quail with great balance.
Matched with the quail was Tetsuya’s 2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir and this in itself was a highlight. Myself, Mr. O and Steve were mesmerised with this red, such a young pinot with so much body. I had no hesitation letting our sommelier know how brilliant the wine was and he had no qualm at all in topping up our glasses.
Beef short rib with beetroot jus and wasabi mustard.
The beef looked amazing with its simple accompaniments not taking away from such a nicely cooked cut of meat. The short rib was so lean and tender just bursting with natural beef flavours and I found the beetroot very subtle and gave an edge of earthiness to the juicy meat. A nice steak with mustard is always a treat but finely grated fresh wasabi and mustard seeds completely took this piece of beef to another level. The wasabi lifted the dish with its slow rising heat and the mustard seeds gave a similar yet more mellow hit. It was tremendous to be presented with such an impressive pairing to the beef.
Sorbet of pione grapes and tarte tatin.
After eight flawless savoury courses I was really looking forward to something sweet, and two little desserts in one was exactly what I needed. First off I went for the sorbet, I loved the sweetness of the purplish grape sorbet and was surprised when I found the second quenelle was actually a grape and not a quenelle after all. Extremely smooth and refreshing it was a fitting palate cleanser. Lex and I loved the deconstructed tarte tatin, with a strong caramel, rich sweet fruit, smooth crumbly pastry and a quenelle of indulgent cream we only wished there was more.
Genoa figs with leatherwood honey and fig leaf ice cream.
Figs have made their way into my list of favourites lately and it was nice to see them paired with ice cream and honey. Uncomplicated figs in a harmonious marriage of flavours with the distinct leatherwood honey’s somewhat quirky spice-like essence and the ice cream of fig leaves having all of the wonderful fig taste without seeds or pulp. A simple dessert that impressed me a lot more than I had expected.
Chocolate pavé with cream cheese ice cream and cinnamon twigs.
This is where I would normally comment on the chocolate pavé dessert, but as it was my birthday the chefs had something a little different prepared for me. Everyone dove straight in before I had the opportunity to take a photo, but Lex later told me it was a silky smooth intense chocolate mousse with a creamy, slightly tangy ice cream which lifted the otherwise rich dish.
Tetsuya’s Birthday Cake.
As a birthday treat I was presented with Tetsuya’s birthday cake, complete with a single candle. Nothing makes you feel more special than having something nobody else has, and if that is not enough then having something bigger than everyone else should do it. Breaking open the cake I didn’t know what to expect but as the chocolate ganache centre oozed out of the low-flour cake I was suitably impressed. A few chocolate dusted hazelnuts, some thick caramel and rich cream added to the dish and by the end of it all I was very satisfied.
Never having had mochi before all I had heard of them was how soft and chewy they are. It was definitely the chai that made this for me, the various chai spices were bursting from the mochi in a similar fashion to a chai latte, but in a totally new way.
While the degustation had finished we were not. Following coffee the wine list made its way around the table once more and after some thought Steve and I settled on some more Sake, Tengumai Bunsei Roku-nen Junmai Sake to be exact. After sampling this with the sashimi earlier in the night we couldn’t pass up sharing a 300ml flask of this fine sake with its hint of apple fruitiness, smooth and gentle finish.
529 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9267 2900