My pilgrimage to Tetsuya’s began over six months ago.
I was shuffled into my 4th different team at work in less than a year and there were plenty of rumours and innuendo about the future of the organisation. I received a call from a recruiter with some promising news signalling the end of the GFC – it was a sign for me to jump ship and find something new.
After a few meetings with the recruiter, four long and intense interviews and a psycho test over 4 months, I finally had a new employment contract in my hands and called Tetsuya’s to make a booking for the next available dinner.
“June 9,” says the voice on the other end – over 3 months away! The GFC was well and truly over.
Sharing the Tetsuya’s experience with us were two of our Tastebuds, Lisa and Andrew. Dining with company certainly helped the night move along as we were there for just over 4 hours.
Opening the batting was a warm chestnut soup. The smell of the chestnuts and the feeling of warming up by a chestnuts roasting on an open fire was perfect on this very cold winter’s night. A nice way to warm up our tasting muscles for the night ahead of us.
The truffle butter was hyped up during the weeks prior to our big night by one of Ms. Taste’s girlfriends who had just visited with her partner. They boasted of cleaning out 3 pots of the stuff between the two of them – and they were right to do so, the butter was smooth with a slight cheesy bite and the enticing smell really compelled us to pack it onto every last corner of our hot bread rolls.
The oysters were a $9 a pair supplement to our dinner. Ms. Taste opted to pass on these and we made sure to let her know what she was missing out on. Some of the freshest oysters I’ve tasted, so plump and juicy with that distinct taste of the ocean lingering with the acidity of the vinegar and ginger in each heavenly mouthful.
The first of the matched wines was a very smooth and clean sake. The matched wines are $90 which is equivalent to a whole bottle, however you can choose to have one serving shared between two so you aren’t completely smashed by the time desserts roll around. Unfortunately my wine palette has yet to evolve past the “goon/delicious not-goon” test and I can safely say that each wine falls deep into “delicious not-goon” territory.
A real knockout dish, the kingfish received a unanimous tick of approval from all diners. The familiar texture of the firm fish with the soft crunch of the greens reminiscent of the classic steamed fish with ginger and shallots, taken to the next level in flavour by the slightly citrusy soy sauce.
This dish received a mixed reaction, with most of use praising the freshness of both the scampi and the tofu. However the dish as an ensemble didn’t click with me as I couldn’t get into all the different soft textures on the plate.
Tetsuya’s signature confit of ocean trout arrives, identically presented on each of our plates, identical to the countless photographs of the dish we have seen over the past few years. The table falls silent with each diner savouring their mouthfuls of magic and nodding to themselves with a quiet confidence that the weeks of hype and expectations have been well and truly met. His close relationship with supplier Petuna Seafoods has allowed him to pick the best of the best ocean trout, with years of selective breeding in accordance with his high standards resulting in the firm, marbled piece of fish in front of us.
This dish, I did not want to finish. It just smelt so fantastic, I wanted that beautiful aroma of the mushrooms and the sauce to stay with my nose and not my stomach. The fish was fresh and perfectly cooked, but the star was the delicious umami flavour from the mushrooms – a perfect marriage of the land and the sea.
Our first meat dish of the evening, a hard act following the two near-perfect courses that preceded it. The ox tail is meaty and flavourful and the sea cucumber is… well, bland and rubbery like how a sea cucumber is supposed to taste. I notice the table next to us being served their ocean trout and secretly wish for 2 or 3 or 10 more ocean trout courses.
I remember seeing this little parcel of chicken wobbling as it was served, seemingly bursting at the seams. Each bite unleashed a harmony of juices filling each mouthful with a mixture of sweetness from the chicken and savoury from the sauce anchored by the flavours from the truffle. A comment echoed many times throughout the night is heard again, “If they doubled the serving size of this dish, it would be perfect.”
The final savoury dish for the night was a classic steak, mushrooms and mash. The steak is not overly fatty and soft like wagyu but firm and very meaty, highlighting the flavours and quality of the beef. Each component is well executed and the dish’s heaviness put our stomachs near capacity, with just enough room left for dessert.
The first of the desserts, the pear sorbet with walnuts acts as a palette cleanser and the rich and creamy bread and butter pudding is a comforting winter warmer. All the flavours compressed into the tiny shot glass packed a mighty punch – definitely my favourite dessert of the night.
The second dessert course featured a hint of goats cheese which Ms. Taste found overwhelming – enough for her to offer her plate to everyone multiple times. It was a good dessert, although the mascarpone and soy did not really click with me.
The soft and buttery sable turned into a crumbly mess after a few digs of my fork – the sign of a very good shortbread. The lemon scented cream and slightly bitter leatherwood honey worked in beautifully with the shortbread and was a well-constructed and thought out dessert.
Our final course was a small plate of macarons – the lemon flavour was the standout from a relatively bland selection. Ms. Taste, a bit of a self-professed macaron expert, points out that there is uneven rise on the shells. These must’ve been made a few days prior as the biscuit is quite hard compared to the lusciously soft creations at Adriano Zumbo and Le Renaissance.
For those of you yet to embark on the Tetsuya’s experience, be sure to tune in to SBS tonight at 7:30pm for the documentary, Tetsuya’s Pursuit of Excellence. The documentary takes an intimate look into Tetsuya’s journey from a young kitchen hand speaking no English to one of the world’s greatest chefs. There are also interviews with friends and mentors, Danny White, Armando Percuoco, Tony Bilson, Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal and Richard Geoffroy Chef du Cave at Dom Perignon.
We were provided a preview copy and it was the perfect entree to our meal at Tetsuya’s. You really appreciate your meal much more, knowing the quality ingredients and deatiled selection that goes into each dish.
I hope I’ve given you all a taste of what dining at Tetsuya was like. It was truly an experience never to be forgotten. In fact, Ms. Taste and I are planning to visit Tetsuya’s new restaurant Waku Ghin in Singapore at the end of the year. And we have high expectations!
529 Kent Street
# 02 9267 2900