One of the restaurants that has long been on my wish list ever since I first heard of it from a workmate whilst working and living in Sydney back in 2009 – also the year my food obsession and this blog came about! Fast forward 5 years and I got to finally dine in this highly acclaimed restaurant as this was where The Stranger was taking me for my birthday dinner surprise!
During the lead up to our Sydney getaway, I had an inkling of where we were going but I couldn’t really be sure. Just hours before our dinner date and the cat was let out of the bag! Good thing too so I didn’t look like a hobo and rocked up in a pair of slacks and canvas shoes – that would have been a tad bit embarrassing, although I’m sure The Stranger wouldn’t have let me walk out the door like that. 😛
Tetsuya’s is located in the middle of Sydney CBD (Kent Street), and to think that I’ve walked by it so many times before and never noticed its existence! Chef and owner Tetsuya Wakuda refurbished the heritage-listed site with influences from Japan with a Japanese garden where diners can admire from the dining area – luckily for us, we got seated by the window to admire the views. It was beautifully quaint, quiet, relaxing and romantic.
The Stranger had a plan that day, and that was to pace our appetite well ensuring that we had enough room for the epic meal ahead. There’s nothing worse than going to a degustation dinner and not being able to have everything on the menu, it’s just not a complete experience!
Our waiter was chatty, friendly and accommodating. He pre warned us that most of the meals were cooked and presented medium rare and asked if that was all good to go, and whether we had any allergies that the kitchen should know about. Yes, just one… not so much an allergy but something for the kitchen to know. The Stranger is lactose intolerant so cheeses and cream are usually a no no. Duly noted. The waiter acknowledged this and ensured that exceptions would be made to the strangers dishes should there be any dairy products in them. 😉
Our degustation dinner was priced at $220 per person with an extra $110 for matching wines. The Stranger opted for the latter, I did not as I probably would’ve KO’d after the first two drinks… even if they were paired with food! Heh.
Okay, you’re probably ready to start oggling at the food now instead of hearing about the lead up.
Bread and butter
The butter pot was a combination of unsalted butter, parmesan, ricotta and truffle oil with bread options of wholegrain and multigrain bread. We got one of each with both of us favouring the multigrain more for its crunchy crisp and grained crust and soft pillowy centre. I slathered my bread pieces in so much of that delicious butter that my usual clean eating self would have been concerned!
Pacific oysters with rice wine vinegar and ginger
Paired wine: Tamanohikari Tokusen Junmai Ginjo Sake, Kyoto, Japan
We went ahead with the extra course of oysters to start at an additional cost and I’m so glad we did!! Two oysters each on a bed of seaweed; they were super fresh and briny with the most gorgeous dressing I’ve had paired with oysters. The Stranger was subtle in eating one oyster leaving some of the tangy and sweet rice wine vinegar and ginger behind whilst I slurped down that thing as if I was taking a ‘bottoms up’ kind of shot at some night club – although a lot more politely and conservatively than that sounds. There was no way I was leaving a drop of that behind… The Stranger followed suit and we both ‘bottoms upped’ those oysters!
Savoury custard with avruga
Paired wine: Tamanohikari Tokusen Junmai Ginjo Sake, Kyoto, Japan
The great thing about degustations for the person accompanying a food blogger is that they don’t have to wait for the food blogger to take a photo of the food before they can dig in! We both got a course each so whilst The Stranger quickly tucked into his custard, I was still busily photographing mine to ensure I had the right shot before I got to get in on the fun as well. This savoury steamed egg custard with soy cream was so pretty and delicate and after the first spoonful, it literally blew my mind. It had so much umami flavour that it still lingered on my palate after each mouthful. The silk like custard melted seamlessly away whilst being paired with bursts of saltiness surprise from the avruga – a caviar substitute made from herring and other products. We made sure we scraped the bottom of those ‘pots’ well and got every last bit!
Carpaccio of leatherjacket with nori and citrus soy
Paired wine: 2009 Tunkalilla Vineyard Riesling, Oregon, USA
Our next course was almost too pretty to eat! Vibrant, colourful and light; an artwork of carpaccio leatherjacket, nori, citrus soy and pickled onions. So simple, yet so perfect. Just splendid.
The last of our ‘light’ courses was this lovely dish:
Marinated scampi with walnut oil and egg
Paired wine: 2013 Henschke Joseph Hill Gewürztraminer, Eden Valley, SA
The marinated scampi with walnut oil and egg (look at that egg yolk!) was incredibly rich and creamy with its natural flavours shining through each melty mouthful. Bliss. The Stranger got the same deal minus the creme fraiche if anyone was wondering. This course was paired with an SA wine – Henschke, a little piece of home sneaked in amongst our dinner.
The pièce de résistance of the Tetsuya degustation, his signature dish of confit ocean trout. *Drum roll~*
Confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of celery, witlof, apple and unpasteurised ocean trout roe
Paired wine: 2010 Curly Flat Pinot Noir, Macedon Rangers, VIC
One word for Tetsuya’s signature course: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Or just pure deliciousness.
The ocean trout was confited where the fish was slowly cooked in oil thereby its bright pinky flesh was still kept intact. A crust of kombu and a line of salt adorned the top side of the ocean trout as the fillet sat on a small mound of fresh green fruit salad accompanied with a quenelle of unpasteurised ocean trout roe. The fish was so soft and delicate, it, like much of the courses presented thus far, it melted away with each mouthful. As we put our knives through the flesh, it carved away so effortlessly, it was almost as if we were putting our knives through butter. We tried hard to savour each bite for as long as we could because before we knew it, we were left with an empty spotless white plate. A side of leafy greens was also presented with the confit ocean trout that we happily demolished clean.
Roasted moreton bay bug with braised oxtail
Paired wine: 2011 Moric Blaufrankisch, Burgenland, Austria
The plump and sweet roasted moreton bay bug meat sat on a soy braised ox tail in a thick and flavourful sauce. I’m not a huge fan of braised meats as I tend to find it to be too stringy and dry for my liking and this wasn’t an exception. There was only a small amount and when paired with the naturally sweet flavours of the moreton bay bug and the thick sauce, it made it much more enjoyable.
Tea smoke quail breast with parsnip and calamari
Paired wine: 2010 Agly Brothers Carignan Blend, Cotes du Roussillon, France
Yum, yum and yum! The tea smoke quail breast had a light sear on the skin whilst the flesh remained slightly pink and incredibly moist; for such a little piece, it had so much flavour. The parsnip and calamari slices were divine, namely the calamari. They were sliced so thin that they were almost see through; sweet and delicate with a nice textural bite and chew.
Roasted lamb rack with black olives and artichoke
Paired wine: 2011 Georg Breuer Auslese Rieseling, Rheingau, Germany
This was possibly the best piece of lamb I’ve ever tasted. Ever. To date. Deboned lamb with garlic cream, black olives and smoked artichoke; although the meat was pink in the centre, it was so so soooooo succulent and flavoursome without the lamb-y smell lingering on my palate. This final savoury course made me happy and sad at the same time; one, it was small and perfect in size as my stomach was reaching full capacity and two, it was so darn delicious that I just wanted more of it!
Before the first of our desserts came out, our waiter informed us that there would be some ice cream and mousse in both desserts and that the kitchen had been informed of the strangers lactose intolerance and therefore, alternative desserts would be presented as to avoid any ‘consequences’. Better be safe than sorry they say!
Shortly after, we were both presented this beautiful dessert:
White peaches with almond milk ice cream
Paired wine: 1983 Toro Albana Gran Reserva Pedro Ximenez, Montilla-Moriles, Spain
Champagne poached peach with lemon curd, elder flower and toasted white chocolate with almond milk ice cream. The Stranger was more than happy to dig in; a little ice cream never hurt nobody! 😉 (FYI, The Stranger can handle his ice creams and desserts – woo! So this wasn’t a problem for us, therefore we didn’t send it back or asked for a replacement.) We were half way through when our waiter came back and was surprised at what we were having. ‘You weren’t supposed to get that, I had specifically asked the kitchen to create something else for you, I’m so sorry!’. We quickly reassured him that all was good and that the dessert was amazingly delicious! Even if anything was to happen to The Stranger, it would have been all worth it. No joke.
Our waiter apologised again and mentioned that the best was yet to come but The Stranger was rather skeptical and wondered if anything could surpass the delicious poached peach. Light, sweet, juicy soft peaches that our spoons carved through effortlessly with a smooth lemon curd and delicate pieces of textural crumbly crunch from the toasted white chocolate. Oh, and that beautifully perfect quenelle of almond milk ice cream, delicious!
Raspberry granita and chocolate sorbet
The Stranger’s dessert substitute for the last of our desserts: chocolate sorbet, raspberry granita and puree. Delightful! Light, flavourful and really easy to eat. But then, my ‘birthday’ Tetsuya chocolate cake appeared with all the bells and whistles: an edible gold leaf (fancy!) and a candle!
Tetsuya’s chocolate cake
Chocolate bliss and perfection.
Cross section of the best cake I’ve ever had
I probably sound like a broken record by the end of this post, but this was seriously so incredibly good. Best chocolate cake ever. The Stranger took no hesitation and carved his spoon through this immaculate looking cake and savoured his bite. Then another, and another. I was more than happy to share. The golden surface was a case to a small sized cake that I initially thought looked way too rich and heavy. It was anything but that. Chocolately yet amazingly light, smooth and airy (like eating a chocolate wispy cloud) with so many different layers, each one with a different chocolate flavour profile and texture, it was just pure chocolate perfection. The stranger wished he had one whole one to himself, lactose or not, that cake was worth it. Our waiter was right, the best was indeed saved for last!
(Our hunt for a ‘similar’ tasting cake in Adelaide has begun so readers, know of any great patisseries, chocolate dessert spots that make a killer chocolate cake, let us know!! :)~)
We ended off the epic degustation with some petit fours of mini strawberries and cream macarons and chocolate truffles. All of which, were sublime!
Every single plate that was presented to us for the evening, we sent back spotless. Suffice to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had to date. Luckily for The Stranger, this was his second time there!
Tetsuya’s has consistently been in the world’s best 50 restaurants list in 2004 through to 2009, and was awarded the highest possible achievement every year from 1992 until 2009 by The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide with three hats but in 2010 they dropped to two hats out of three. They are currently listed as the third best restaurant in Australia, so with this many accolades, awards and recognition, getting a booking here ain’t easy! The stranger was well prepared and had made a booking months in advance to ensure we had a sitting.
Our tastebuds will never be the same again after such an amazing meal. Unfortunately, a lot of meals from here on after will be and has already been compared to many of the dishes we had at Tetsuya’s. Our expectations of food has risen and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing! Haha
Every now and then, we’ll flick through photos from our experience be it on my camera or phone and reminisce about our meal, the stranger still has regrets over that chocolate cake that he got duped but the service, consideration, their attention to detail and care far outweighs what he missed out on – at least he got to smash through half my cake. Thank you for an amazing night and an amazing dinner. I was well and truly spoilt!! Love you! <3
529 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
P 02 9267 2900
Sat 12pm, 6.30pm-Late