Tetsuya’s, Sydney

by lex on May 1, 2012

Entrance

Entrance

I love birthdays and as Dylan was turning 30 this year I knew I had to take him somewhere special. And I knew it had to be Tetsuya’s. We celebrated Dylan’s 29th with a group of friends at Tetsuya’s last year and it immediately became one of his favourite restaurants.

I made the booking and decided to come up with a cunning plan to surprise him. Dylan has this knack of guessing every single present I’ve ever bought him, he has the best memory in the entire world (I’m convinced of it!) and I’ve never been able to really truly surprise him before.

As his birthday came nearer, Dylan asked me to cook Thai for his birthday dinner. Ahuh, Thai! Of all things? Dylan makes his own curry pastes from scratch and has been perfecting his Thai beef salad for 6 years! I’m the ‘sous chef’, I can’t make Thai from scratch. But I went along with it and thought I’d leave some Thai cook books lying around and pretend I was actually going to cook Thai. Of course March and April are the busiest months in my job and my plan to ‘pretend to cook Thai’ never really took off.

The day before his birthday I told Dylan I wasn’t going to cook Thai – which of course he’d already guessed. I told him we were going to dinner at a restaurant in the city, for which he knew I had a discount voucher. I could tell he wasn’t overly excited about the plans, but I was determined not to let on. As we made our way into the city I gave Dylan a card which revealed that we were actually going to Tetusya’s. BOOM! I surprised him, wahooooooooooo, for the first (and possibly last) time ever. He was stoked.

10 course degustation $210.00 per person / with matched wines $305.00 per person

  • Chilled pea soup with bitter chocolate sorbet
  • Savoury custard with avruga
    (Tamano Hikari Tokusen Junmai Ginjo Sake, Kyoto, Japan)
  • Salad of kingfish with black bean and orange
    (2008 Tunkalilla Riesling by Brian Croser, Eola-Amity Hills, USA)
  • New Zealand scampi with chicken liver parfait and walnut vinaigrette
    (2008 Tunkalilla Riesling by Brian Croser, Eola-Amity Hills, USA)
  • Confit of Petuna ocean trout with fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout caviar
    (2010 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya’s, Margaret River, WA)
  • Steamed tian of Queensland CEAS spanner crab with curd, foie gras, junsai
    (2010 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya’s, Margaret River, WA)
  • Roasted breast of quail with quail leg rillettes
    (2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir for Tetsuya’s, Gippsland, Vic)
  • De-boned rack of lamb with sheep’s yoghurt and kale
    (2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir for Tetsuya’s, Gippsland, Vic)
  • Pear sorbet, bread and butter pudding
  • Floating island with praline and crème anglaise
    (2009 Les Lions De Suduiraut Sauternes Botrytis Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc, Sauternes, France)
  • Petits fours

With an early reservation we were the first to be seated and the restaurant was still very quiet. It is quite an odd feeling to be the only people in the room, with waiters watching your every move, and only your voices filling the room. Luckily it didn’t take too long for a few other tables to arrive and the restaurant begin to buzz.

A glass of the 2008 Stonier Sparkling from the Mornington Peninsula was in order for the birthday celebrations and it was an enjoyable light and fresh glass of bubbles indeed.

The meal kicked off with a gorgeous sourdough roll and Tetsuya’s signature black truffle salsa butter. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the butter from the previous year, which is odd considering I remember all of the boys going on and on and on about it. I really do have a terrible memory (hence the blog – it is my memory of all things food). Shocking memory aside, the butter was divine. I found the ricotta made the butter much lighter than you’d expect, while the parmesan and truffle richness still shone through. I was tempted to go back for seconds but knew not to make the rookie degustation mistake of filling up on bread.

Bread roll and black truffle salsa butter

Bread roll and black truffle salsa butter

Chilled pea soup with bitter chocolate sorbet.

I’m always unsure about chilled soups and I thought pea was a really odd choice, but the addition of chocolate caught my attention. And the cucumber soup we had last year was a winner so I knew to have faith in the chefs. The soup arrived in little cups, quite a change from the martini glass of our last visit. Vibrant and fresh, the pea soup was icy cold and punchy with the bitter chocolate sorbet. Definitely an unusual combination but our taste buds were definitely alive.

Chilled pea soup with bitter chocolate sorbet

Chilled pea soup with bitter chocolate sorbet

Savoury custard with avruga.
Tamano Hikari Tokusen Junmai Ginjo Sake, Kyoto, Japan.

Taste buds alive I was interested to see where the degustation would go and how it would differ from our first visit. The second dish to arrive was the ‘Chawanmushi’ – a savoury egg custard. Silky smooth, the egg custard was warming and comforting. The avruga brought a slight salty component to the custard, with a little less of a pop than cold avruga. Onions brought sweetness and texture, which rounded off the dish beautifully. An impressive dish – which I summed up on the night in one word – phenomenal.

Dylan chose to have the matching wines, while I decided not to (for once). The first match of the evening was actually a sake from Kyoto. As clear as water I wasn’t fooled, there was no temptation for me to try the sake, I just haven’t got the palate for it. But Dylan absolutely loved the sake.

Savoury custard with avruga

Savoury custard with avruga

Salad of kingfish with black bean and orange.
2008 Tunkalilla Riesling by Brian Croser, Eola-Amity Hills, USA.

I was really looking forward to the sashimi dish as I love sashimi! Last year we had sashimi yellow fin tuna which was ever so tasty. This time around we were presented with a salad of melt in the mouth hiramasa kingfish with a nice amount of garlic, citrus, black beans and chives. I could eat that kingfish all day, every day. The menu we got at the end of the evening actually listed this course as a ‘Salad of marinated yellow fin tuna with daikon and wild rocket’ which we didn’t have but love the sound of!

The second wine match was a Riesling which I adored. Nice and dry, it was a great match to both the kingfish and scampi. I may have stolen quite a bit of Dylan’s glass, hehe oops.

Salad of kingfish with black bean and orange

Salad of kingfish with black bean and orange

New Zealand scampi with chicken liver parfait and walnut vinaigrette.
2008 Tunkalilla Riesling by Brian Croser, Eola-Amity Hills, USA.

To begin I taste the parfait on its own. My first thought was Mr O would eat a whole bucket of that parfait; you see Mr O has a rather large obsession with chicken liver parfait. Now I never would have thought the parfait and scampi combination would work. But work it did. The richness of the parfait didn’t overpower the succulent, lightly seared scampi which was all brought together with the nutty vinaigrette.

New Zealand scampi with chicken liver parfait and walnut vinaigrette

New Zealand scampi with chicken liver parfait and walnut vinaigrette

Confit of Petuna ocean trout with fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout caviar.
2010 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya’s, Margaret River, WA.

Classic Tetsuya. I wonder if his signature dish will ever come off the menu? I wonder if there are regulars to Tetsuya’s who are sick of it? For me though, I was really looking forward to tucking in to Tetsuya’s signature dish for a second time; having tried it for the first time last year and being amazed.

Cooked in oil at a very low temperature, the end result is buttery soft, melt in the mouth trout. The crust of dried and seasoned kombu is salty and has a real umami taste. I was keen to see what small changes had been made – and this time the trout was served on a bed of fennel. Last year it was paired with celery and apple. I’m torn between the two dishes, I don’t think I can pick which I preferred, both were brilliant.

Matched with a Chardonnay that is made exclusively for Tetsuya’s, I ordered a glass as well. Delicious.

Confit of Petuna ocean trout with fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout caviar

Confit of Petuna ocean trout with fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout caviar

Steamed tian of Queensland CEAS spanner crab with curd, foie gras, junsai.
2010 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya’s, Margaret River, WA.

The last seafood dish was the spanner crab. Oh I do love spanner crab (what seafood don’t I love?!). Built up into a tower of many layers (aka a tian), I have to say the spanner crab was somewhat overpowered by the omnipresent coriander which seemed to overtake every other flavour. The lightness of the tofu was balanced by the richness of the foie gras, but overall this was the least impressive dish.

Steamed tian of Queensland CEAS spanner crab with curd, foie gras, junsai

Steamed tian of Queensland CEAS spanner crab with curd, foie gras, junsai

Roasted breast of quail with quail leg rillettes.
2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir for Tetsuya’s, Gippsland, Vic.

Bringing the degustation back on track the first meaty dish was quail, matched with the absolutely amazing 2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir for Tetsuya’s (and yes, I ordered a glass of that as well). Served on a bed of quail leg rillettes and char-grilled spring onion, the quail breast was beautifully juicy and full of flavour which had a great affinity with the salty intense jamon. Though the quail and jamon never became too overpowering and were lightened up by the sweet and lightly charred spring onion.

Roasted breast of quail with quail leg rillettes

Roasted breast of quail with quail leg rillettes

De-boned rack of lamb with sheep’s yoghurt and kale.
2009 Bass Phillip Pinot Noir for Tetsuya’s, Gippsland, Vic.

Probably the most anticipated course of the evening, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the lamb. De-boned and sliced thickly, the lamb was pink, juicy and flavoursome. The tangy sheep’s yoghurt really lifted the lamb. One of the most nutritious vegetables in the world, the kale had been roasted until wilted and was out of this world. The addition of the pine nuts was a welcome textural component. Though I always think of Tetsuya and seafood, this dish was one of my favourites of the evening.

De-boned rack of lamb with sheep’s yoghurt and kale

De-boned rack of lamb with sheep’s yoghurt and kale

Pear sorbet, bread and butter pudding.

Savouries finished, the pre-dessert combined a bread and butter pudding with a brulee crisp top that cracked with the lightest touch of the spoon to reveal the soft, creamy custardy centre. The second component, a shot glass of refreshing pear sorbet with a huge pear flavour, was ever so crisp and light on the palate, it paired quite well with the creamy pudding.

Pear sorbet, bread and butter pudding

Pear sorbet, bread and butter pudding

Floating island with praline and crème anglaise.
2009 Les Lions De Suduiraut Sauternes Botrytis Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc, Sauternes, France.

My dessert for the evening stumped me. A floating island? I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But if I knew one thing for sure I knew I would be sharing with Dylan. He was bitterly disappointed he didn’t get to try any of the chocolate pave last year (as he had a special birthday dessert), and didn’t want to miss out on the non-birthday dessert this time around.

Light as a cloud the floating island of meringue really took me by surprise. I’d not heard of this dish before. Light and sweet meringue, surrounded by a pool of nutty praline and creamy sauce. Not a dessert I would ever choose but I was pleasantly surprised.

Floating island with praline and crème anglaise

Floating island with praline and crème anglaise

Chocolate fondant with hazelnut and praline.

And of course sharing my dessert meant Dylan had to share his. Having ogled photos of the chocolate fondant from last year I was thrilled to bits to see the birthday cake was still the same. Holy moley this was my kind of dessert. Chocolate fondant done brilliantly – chocolately, gooey, not too rich. We both loved the cocoa coated hazelnuts and the sticky smears of caramel. I was content with the chocolate alone, but Dylan being not quite the chocolate fiend I am wished there was more of the super silky quenelle of cream to balance out the gooey rich chocolate.

Chocolate fondant with hazelnut and praline

Chocolate fondant with hazelnut and praline

Petits fours.

The final little touch was petits fours – a while chocolate truffle and strawberry macaron. Not a huge macaron fan I actually quite enjoyed this one with its big strawberry hit, though the gorgeous white chocolate truffle was still the winner.

Petits fours

Petits fours

And then we were done. Somehow we were out the door much earlier than I had expected, though we were in no way rushed, I was still surprised how much quicker a table of two can finish a degustation than the group of 8 we had last year! One thing we did notice though was the number of dishes has dropped from 11 to 10 and the matched wines are now served with every second dish (i.e. one glass for two dishes). Though a substantial amount of food and larger pourings of wine, it didn’t seem to have the same decadence as our first visit. While I was more impressed with the dishes of our second visit, Dylan preferred the first.

Tetsuya’s may not be creating the surprise and delight dishes that other Sydney restaurants are but I have to say he truly is a master. His food is still stunning, 23 years since Tetsuya’s first opened.

Happy 30th Birthday baby! I’m glad I got to surprise you and that we got back to Tetsuya’s xxx

Tetsuya’s Restaurant
529 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9267 2900
Tetsuya’s Website

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

tastyfoodsnaps May 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm

the name and presentation of the island desserts looks magical.. 0:)

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