Tetsuyas, Sydney

It has been a long, long time since I last did a restaurant reflection, I would call it a food review but that seems rather snobbish, considering the fact that I don’t actually know if what I am saying makes sense half the time. Moving on back to Tetsuya’s, what can I say about both the man and the restaurant. Ask any foreigner to name the best restaurant in Sydney and Tetsuya’s will probably come up the most often, ask any Singaporean what the most expensive meal in Singapore is and Waku Ghin will probably come up the most often. It seems only natural that the first restaurant I had to book on my trip to Sydney would be Tetsuya’s.

We start with a bread and butter course. To call this butter would be a bit of a misnomer, this is more of a ‘spread’, and one of the best damn spreads I’ve ever had. It is butter whipped with ricotta, parmesan, and truffle. This is truly a sign of good things to come, the contrast in flavors between the parmesan and truffle were incredible, both bold flavors that didnt jostle with each other, the parmesan being the first thing you detect on the tongue, then the soothing lingering aroma of the truffles shines through as the taste of the parmesan dies down. The ricotta provides body, and the fact that the butter is slightly aerated, just makes you feel less of a fatty when you spread copious amounts of it on bread(It is partly just air after all, isn’t it?). Very good

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Savoury Custard with Avruga

I think technically this was a chawanmushi, I mean, by definition, chawanmushi is a steamed egg custard after all right? Regardless, the texture of the chawanmushi(I am going to assume I am right) was top notch, I would say it was even softer than the one I had at Ryugin, and for some reason I kept tasting scallops in the custard, but the waitress confirmed that it was mirin and soy. You start to see differences between Tetsuya and Waku Ghin within the first course. Tetsuya’s can be likened to being the older brother, more stable, reliable, traditional. Waku Ghin being the younger brother who drives a flashy sports car and constantly wants to impress. I have a feeling that the same dish at Waku would used oscietra caviar instead of Avruga, which doesn’t really matter because I did not really enjoy the texture of the warmed caviar, it lacked that ‘pop’ that I enjoy with caviar, plus there was just too little of it speckled into the cream to make a significant flavor impact. Good-Very good

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Salad of the Sea

Probably the weakest course of the night. Comprised of marinated and cured fish, sushi rice, and assorted vegetables. This was visually stunning but it just felt like a deconstructed chirashi. The rice felt incredibly out of place, especially since it was balled into one giant piece in the center of the plate. The fact that Japanese rice is sticky did not help with the ergonomics of eating the dish at all. It basically became me consuming a bunch of vegetables, then a bunch fish, then eating a ball of rice. I actually thought the meal was going to go downhill at this point. Okay

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Marinated Scampi Tail

This came served with walnut oil and a frozen egg yolk. Yes thats right, that yellow bit protruding out, thats an egg yolk that was simply frozen, then thawed. The flavors of the dish worked pretty well, the sweetness of the scampi balanced with the marinade, the yolk and cream providing richness, the oil a nuttiness. The main problem I had with the dish is that frozen egg yolk, it had the texture of a gel, but it had a very unpleasant gummy like texture that kind of stuck to the tongue and made the flavor of the egg yolk linger. Which was a shame because the taste of the Scampi was exceptionally good. Very sweet, briny, the kind of things you look for in raw seafood, then the flavor went away and the taste of the egg yolk stayed behind… Okay-good

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Confit of Petuna Trout with apple and unpasterised Ocean Trout Roe

This is the dish that defines Tetsuya’s. I actually didn’t know about any of Tetsuya’s dishes apart from this one. Let me break it down on a technical level first. I knew beforehand that the trout was cooked in a pot of aromatic oil (Grapeseed + olive + herbs and spices), what surprised me the most was the texture. This was even less cooked than mi cuit salmon, with mi cuit salmon, the fish flakes apart but the texture is very close to being raw. This, on the other hand, felt like it was completely raw, it didn’t flake apart at all, but it was soft enough to be cut with the back of the fork. I am guessing the confit process was simply to warm it through. The component that makes this dish is actually the kombu crust. The trout relies completely on the crust for seasoning, it is not brined, it is not salted, the crust supports the fish, and it does so beautifully. Its hard to describe the flavor with words because it tastes like the flavor of umami harnessed into a seasoning. It is basically dried kombu from japan, tossed with soy sauce, and pressed into the fish. There really are no more words for this, you just have to try it to understand. Superb

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Shio Koji flounder with tomato and summer greens

I wouldn’t want to be the fish dish that follows up a Tetsuya’s signature, but this dish holds its own weight incredibly well. The flounder is marinated in sake for days before being seared in a pan. You can eat the fish and tell that there are a lot of incredibly delicious, incredibly complex flavors going on, you may not understand whats happening, but you know you are enjoying it. The vegetables added a very refreshing, crunchy textural contrast, and the sauces used carried acidity to the fish. Everything about this dish came together very nicely. And it was a nice transition from the previous trout dish, the former being very rich, this one with much cleaner, calming flavors. Very Good

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Tea Smoked Quail Breast

For a restaurant that serves a menu focusing on seafood, the first non seafood main we had was exceptionally cooked. The quail breast was quite pink, which I have no problem with, because the texture of the quail was incredible. So moist and with a nice chewy bite to it. The squid was another revelation as well, I have never had squid cooked to this kind of texture, it almost resembled cheong fun(rice noodles), but with a silkier and more chewy texture, each bite reminded me of eating cheong fun, but with every bite it realses that familiar flavor of squid. Both proteins with strong flavors but they come together nicely. Pleasantly surprised by how good this was. Very good

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Wagyu beef tenderloin with soy braised tendon and wasabi leaf

Savory dishes ended on a bit of a low. The tenderloin was nicely cooked, especially on a piece of meat that thin, but the jus/sauce it was served with was over reduced and when eaten together with the tendon and bone marrow, it just got too rich too quickly. The sorrel added a little bit of acidity to cut a richness of the dish but there was simply not enough of it. Okay

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Lychee granita with strawberries and coconut

The first of two desserts, refreshing, light, and very welcome at this stage after a very rich and heavy meat course right before this. It was heavy enough to be a dessert but the flavors were reminiscent of a palate cleanser. Its hard to find fault with the dessert, it was just a little bit on the boring side. Okay-Good

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Tetsuya’s chocolate cake

This, on the other hand, was a showstopper. It actually looks very similar to Hidemi Sugino’s infamous ambroisie cake, and dare I say it, the mousse in the Tetsuya cake is even better than the one at Suginos, it is barely set and has an ethereal melt in your mouth texture. The bitter-sweetness of the dark chocolate plays well with the nuttiness of the hazelnut, the dish is inherently heavy but the lightness of that mousse just kept you going back for more. My mind is telling me that there should be some kind of berry component in the dish but my mouth is telling me to shut up and eat. A really nice way to end the meal. Very good

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Tetsuya’s seems to have fallen off the map a little in Sydney, but to the uninitiated, places like Rockpool and Sepia aren’t the first names that register when talking about food in Sydney. For me, the first two names that pop into my head are Quay(will be the next post) and Tetsuya’s. The food may not be as flashy or inventive as some of the newer restaurants, but I would say the food at Tetsuya’s is at about the level of a solid 2 Michelin star restaurant, while the service is impeccable and is easily at a 3 star level. Not only the individual dishes are impressive, but the progression of the meal as well, it is the little details that count, the pairing of heavy and light dishes, the little drops of parsley oil on the plate of the trout dish, or the service that was ever willing to accomodate every request I had., these are the things that make a great meal, and aren’t immediately obvious but do register after the meal is over. ┬áIt is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Sydney, and it ended up being the best meal of my trip.

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One thought on “Tetsuyas, Sydney

  1. I haven’t been to Tetsuya’s, but this looks pretty interesting. We liked Marque when we were in Sydney.

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