Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tetsuya's (NSW)

I've been putting off writing about the degustation at Tetsuya's for sometime because it's so intimidating: not only are there so many dishes to cover, but the quality of the food was such that neither my words nor my pictures will do justice to it. I do like to share my eating experiences with you guys though, so here goes nothing. I'll say straight up though, if you ever have the chance to dine at Tetsuya's, don't miss it, and get accompanying wines if that's your style too.

Even though it's centrally located, upon entering the restaurant there's immediately a sense of serenity that wouldn't be feel out of place in the Japanese countryside (or so I'd imagine given I've never been to Japan). In any case, the dimly lit, intimate surrounds were welcoming and comforting, perhaps even more so with the absence of music. The faint chatter of the rest of the patrons, and the sound of the Sydney rain falling outside was all the soundtrack that was needed.

As expected, the waitress was charming and knowledgeable, and we knew immediately that we were in for a treat as she went through the list of courses, barring the desserts which she was keeping as a surprise. At first, the sommelier wasn't aware that we wished to match wines to our meals, but after this was sorted out, he was nothing if not friendly and helpful for the entire night, always at the ready with wines that were well-matched to the dishes.

With much further waiting, the first entree arrived at the table, and we promptly forgot what the rest of the dishes she had named were. So began the massively enjoyable fun of the guessing game.

Corn Soup with Soy Cream
This cold corn soup with soy cream was, perhaps, just a little odd. I wasn't really sure what to make of it in all honesty. The corn lent just a little bit of sweetness, but other than that, there weren't any dominant flavours. As a wild guess, I'd say this was to simply set our palates for the following courses. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though!

Next up, the 'optional course' (incurring a small surcharge) of fresh pacific oysters with rice vinegar & ginger. You think we were going to pass up this opportunity? Not a chance.

Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar & Ginger
The oysters really were the star of this dish, with the balance of the vinegar and ginger perfectly highlighting the oysters to gently flavour them without overpowering their freshness. I've only ever eaten oysters once before (they were terrible) but even with my limited oyster-eating experience, I could tell that these were almost as perfect as you could hope for.

I was less enthralled by the next dish: Savoury custard with sea urchin

Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin
Having never eaten sea urchin before, I was a little overwhelmed by its strong flavour, and didn't particularly like it. Is it an acquired taste? In any case, its strength actually made the custard seem bland, which wouldn't be the effect that they were after.

The sashimi of kingfish with blackbean & orange was obviously fresh and quite good, but not mind-blowing.

Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean & Orange
The blackbean and orange was certainly and interesting combination and one which worked well. Not well enough to have me craving more, but leaving room for the mains isn't a necessarily a bad thing.

The first of the mains was spectacular, and perhaps the highlight of the entire night (yes, even including desserts and my penchant for sweets).

Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Shaved Fennel and Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar
It also had the longest name of any dish I'd seen: confit of Petuna ocean trout with shaved fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout caviar. I can see why this is Tetsuya's signature dish. The fish was firm yet delicate, so it cut easily yet still held its form. The crust had just the right amount of flavour and crunch to enhance the taste of the fish. The caviar were like little golden gems of slightly sweet liquid happiness. I felt royally fancy eating this. This restaurant is known for their seafood and this dish justifies their reputation as one of the best in Sydney.

Even though I fully understand that with a progressive degustations, lighter flavours must precede the heavier, especially in the case of meat dishes, the rest of the mains felt a little boring after the brilliance of the trout. They went by in a little bit of a blur, so they'll go by in a little bit a blur here too.

Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curd, Foie Gras & Junsai
Another seafood dish this time with crab meat (I hear they made this on Junior Masterchef?). The spanner crab was faintly sweet, and the textures matched perfectly. I just wish there was a little more colour to the dish, but now I'm just be fussy because it was a perfectly delicious course.

Braised Veal Shank with Broad Beans & Smoked Bone Marrow
Bone marrow is one of those things I grew up eating, and would beg Dad to let me eat it from all the bones in the dish. Is it any wonder that I preferred the accompanying bone marrow to the veal itself?

Breast of Quail with Paleta Iberico & Garlic Puree
My tastebuds still aren't well trained enough to tell quail from chicken, but I remember liking the accompanying flavours better than the main in this dish too. I do like my pork though, in pretty much any form - just ask my friends.

Seared Fillet of Cape Grim Beef with Wasabi and Braised Mustard Seeds
The final main for the night was the seared fillet of beef. This was the best beef that I've had in a long time (the last time was at a specialty steakhouse). Even though we were starting to fill up from the many previous courses, I could have eaten more of this dish. Thankfully this isn't possible, because the three decadent courses of desserts (yes, three) were more than enough to round off the meal.

Hay-Infused Ice Cream with Sorrel Granita (left) and Bread & Butter Pudding (right)
Hay-infused ice-cream? You mean, grass? Well, it tasted like grass, but not in a bad way. It was light and refreshing and well suited to clearing the heaviness of the mains. The bread and butter pudding was sweet and buttery, but I was more than ready for the chocolate dessert to be brought out.

Choclate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream & Cinnamon Twigs
Apart from eating bone marrow, I'm also one of those people who eat cinnamon twigs, but that's not really important. What's important was that both the pave and ice-cream were absolutely delicious. I love the bitterness of dark chocolate, and the slight saltiness of the cream cheese, so this dessert was definitely my favourite.

As is the trend, the night was capped off with miniature macarons. While not as good as some specialty stores (in Sydney especially) macarons are always delicious in my book, so these suited me perfectly fine.


Wrapping up after almost four hours, we walked out of there buzzing in a bliss induced by good food, good wine and good company. Now I have to justify returning to Tetsuya's just to enjoy it all over again.

529 Kent Street Sydney
Lunch: Sat 12pm -
Dinner: Tues-Fri 6pm - , Sat 630pm -

Tetsuya's on Urbanspoon


  1. [...] places during a recent trip to Sydney. Having already exhausted ourselves with the degustation at Tetsuya’s, we were glad that we had only booked in for lunch, and went with choices from the four course menu [...]

  2. Everything looks so good! :)

    I've always wanted to eat at Tetsuya but never got the chance coz we had reservations elsewhere.

    I did manage to eat at Spice Temple during my trip last month to NSW though. The food was surprisingly spicy! I can eat a lot of spicy food but Neil Perry's cooking surprised me (made a reservation coz I've heard a lot of good things about his Chinese restaurant and from his Season 3 MasterChef Australia judge appearance).

    Nobu in Melbourne was good but I regret not going to Tetsuya coz I've heard a lot of good things about it too.

    Reading your post made me want to go even the more! I like the idea of hay infused ice cream! Wonderful review, as always. I'm reading through your Recommended section! :)

    P/S - I think sea urchin roe is something you either love or hate. I love the uni, can eat the stuff everyday and not be sick. Or do you mean the actual sea urchin - couldn't really tell from the photo. Cheers!

    1. What did you think of Spice Temple? I've never been (to the Melbourne or Sydney one) and always wondered if it was worth it.

      And definitely go to Tetusyas - it's definitely an experience and while the food is great, the service is certainly just as wonderful. I'm pretty sure it was sea urchin, rather than the roe...it was cooked in a custard so pretty hard to tell even when eating it (especially due to lack of experience on my end).