From spending four figure amounts at the Fat Duck Melbourne, to decadent meals at places like Quay and Ormeggio, there’s no denying that I’ve had more fancy meals at hatted restaurants in the past few years than most people would have in their lifetime. Combined with my recent announcement of an upcoming seven month holiday through Europe, you’d be right to call me spoiled and extravagant. It’s true – K and I are lucky to be in the 1% who earn a steady income and have stable housing. We work hard to save though and do scrimp in some areas in order to splurge in the areas that mean most to us.
However, we can’t take all the credit! Through the generosity of some of our very best friends in the form of dining vouchers for our wedding, we’ve been able to dine at some amazing restaurants lately from a high tea in Coogee, a dinner at Catalina, and Valentine’s Day at Quay. Now, I’d like to share our experience at Tetsuya’s, courtesy of a generous gift from our friends Anita, Bec and Louise.
While we had dined at Waku Ghin in Singapore a few years ago, I’d never been to Tetsuya’s in Sydney. I questioned K on his experience with Tetsuya’s and was surprised to find out that he had dined there three times before. Once, when he was 10 years old and his father took him as a celebration of turning 10. Once, with his grandparents to celebrate graduating from university. And once, for his friend’s birthday.
Having now experienced Tetsuya’s for myself though, I can understand why you could justify returning repeatedly. It’s a very different style of meal to what we had just a few weeks earlier at the Fat Duck – it’s much more understated and elegant without that element of showmanship. It’s all about clean, crisp flavours and textures, hushed voices, and muted background music. Elegance, pure and simple.
With the degustation menu, I chose to have the matching teas for only $35 – an interesting mix of cold iced tea spritzers and hot teas, all designed to perfectly match each course. The Yunnan Red tea matched with the Tea Smoked Quail Breast and the Lamb Rack with Kale and Red Cabbage was probably my pick for the best ‘matched’ tea. The richness of the tea really complimented the earthy and game-y flavours of the quail and lamb.
Another inspired tea matching was the Jasmine Spritzer, an iced and spiced tea, which was served early on in the meal with the cold Potato and Leek with Mascarpone Ice-Cream entrée. As the entrée was quite creamy and thick, the clean flavours of the spiced jasmine tea really cut through it and helped to cleanse the palate for the next course.
By far my favourite tea served though, was right at the very end with the last dessert course – an African Red Cocoa with Matcha and Soy Milk. Though it was technically a hot chocolate, the matcha helped to lessen the sweetness of it, which in turn made it a perfect match for the sinfully sweet Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake. The shine on that chocolate cake was absolutely extraordinary, I take my hat off to whichever pastry chef managed to make the ganache that glossy!
As boring as it may sound, Tetsuya’s signature dish of the Confit of Ocean Trout truly is remarkable – I can understand why it has a permanent place on the menu, albeit with small occasional tweaks. The savoury tangy crust on the perfectly cooked trout (water bath, K informed me smugly as he bought his own water bath machine) went ridiculously well with the slightly crunchier and sweeter daikon and pomelo salad that it rested on.
Other highlights included the deliciously plump and fresh Pacific Oysters, an optional starter subtly dressed with a mere drizzle of ginger and rice vinegar that served to enhance the natural flavours of the ocean. The raw New Zealand Scampi Tail with its dollops of tasty chicken liver parfait was also a real delight with the natural subtle flavour of the firm scampi flesh heightened by the intensity of the parfait. And of course, his signature Truffled Butter was just heavenly, and by the time I finished slathering it on my bread, I think there was more butter than bread!
Tetsuya’s is no Fat Duck. It lacks the theatre and the engagement for the diner. What it does have is classic simple food, cooked consistently and extremely well. Tetsuya’s continues to impress with its understated elegance, and we will no doubt be back again some time in the future!