Warning: this post is photo heavy.
For my birthday, I booked Tetsuya’s Restaurant in Sydney (about 6 months in advance) for Saturday lunch. Tetsuya’s offers a 10-course degustation for $220 per person (without wine). It’s been on my list of eateries to visit and I couldn’t wait to head to Sydney for an extra long birthday weekend to try it out. I was advised to allow 4 hours for this lunch.
There’s a security gate outside, so you need to buzz to enter the grounds. Stepping inside, we were asked if we wanted our bags placed in the cloak room before being shown to one of the small dining rooms. Our table by the window looked out onto the Japanese garden. I was expecting a bigger garden that I could walk through but it was a small pond with some lush greenery in the background. Our waiter informed us that no one was permitted to go outside, but I could take as many photos as I wanted from inside. Not helpful when the blinds are in the way.
We were asked whether we wanted still, sparkling or filtered water before napkins were placed on our laps. Once the water was poured, a large bowl of truffle butter was brought out and one of the waiters took us through the menu for the day. The truffle butter was like a whipped mousse – so light and delicious with a hint of truffle.
We had a choice of freshly baked multigrain or wheat sourdough as our bread options. We were regularly asked throughout the lunch sitting if we wanted more bread. I didn’t want to fill up on bread with 10 courses coming my way, but I tried the multigrain and had a nibble of the other breads.
I asked whether Tetsuya’s offered mocktails and to my surprise, a printed non-alcoholic beverage menu was brought out to me. One side outlined a tea degustation for $35 consisting of six teas would be brewed and poured during the sitting. Tea spritzers and a list of mocktails (all $12) were outlined on the next page. To start off with, I ordered the Candy Rhubarb – lychee and blueberries muddled with blood orange and rhubarb bitters. I was very happy with my choice – a sweet fruit mocktail which had a single blueberry in each ice cube.
Our waiter then quickly went through the menu with us. A selection of seafood would come out first, before the meats and then a couple of desserts. To start off with, Tetsuya’s was offering two Pacific oysters that he mentioned was complimentary to the degustation. We couldn’t say no and these came out a few minutes later. These oysters were so fresh topped with ginger and rice vinegar. Very tangy and easy to slurp down (I tried really hard not to slurp).
Course 1 – tomato and Tasmanian cherry gazpacho. Served in a martini glass, this was an intriguing first course. Blended smoothly, I could distinguish both the tomato and sweetness of the cherry. Not being a fan of tomato soup, I must admit that I downed this rather quickly. My partner did not like it at all, and poured his remaining gazpacho into mine.
Course 2 – soy poached yellowfin tuna with roast eggplant and coastal succulents. The tuna was amazing accompanied superbly by the succulents and radish that enhanced the soft sashimi. Absolutely beautiful and flawless.
Course 3 – New Zealand scampi tail with scampi oil and chicken liver parfait. The juicy soft scampi tail was served warm with some sort of thin rice vinegar jelly wrapped over the top to provide a little tartness. The chicken liver parfait was light and fluffy adding another texture and colour to the scampi. Another fantastic and delicate dish that was packed with flavour. I could have easily ordered another one of these.
Course 4 – confit of Petuna ocean trout with a salad of fennel and unpasteurised ocean trout roe. Tetsuya’s signature dish looked magnificent on the plate. What a perfect cut and that colour! (which has not been modified by me). The crust is made of dried seaweed, soy and coriander seeds which had a saltiness to it that my partner describes as 2 minute noodle chicken salt. A thin line of salt sits on top of the crust. The ocean trout was of such high quality and so soft it was like cutting through butter. I tried to savour every mouthful. Beautiful flavours with a simple salad underneath. Understated elegance. A small bowl of fennel salad was also provided on the side. We all loved this dish. I’m so happy I got to try it. My dilemma now – how will I ever eat trout again after tasting this perfection?
It was time to order another mocktail. This time I tried the Almond Sour with orgeat (almond cordial), lemon and pineapple. This was very sweet and very sour at the same time. It took me a good hour to drink it all. I was impressed with the amount of foam on top that stayed foamy for the entire length of time I had the drink. I forgot to ask what made it foamy.
Course 5 – grilled barramundi with mushroom ragu. The delicious aroma wafted up to my nose as soon as this was placed in front of me. The warm ragu smelled and tasted fantastic. The barramundi itself was tiny but cooked perfectly. The crust was crunchy with a bit of sea salt added. Celery leaves gave some pepperiness to the dish. I really wanted more of this especially the ragu! I can just imagine this ragu used in a risotto…but I digress.
Course 6 – tea smoked quail breast with parsnip, turnip and shaved calamari. This was a very plump piece of quail, seared on one side and cooked slightly pink inside which made it extremely moist for such a small piece. The calamari was almost see-through. The turnip and parsnip are a nice surprise hiding underneath and add some crunch. Subtle flavours and beautifully cooked quail.
Course 7 – seared veal tenderloin with smoked bone marrow and peas. We were advised by our waiter that this was cooked medium rare and if this was okay. Perfect for us! The glistening veal was droolworthy – succulent and pink the whole way through with plenty of flavour from the herbs and light soy. The marrow is super soft (pretty much melted) that you can’t even tell you’re eating it. I like to think that it enhanced the flavour and juices of the veal. Mmmm.
Course 8 – poached peaches with champagne sorbet and peach skin jelly. Served in a martini glass, this reminded me of a trifle with a little bit of sponge sprinkled on top. The peaches weren’t too sweet and quite natural in terms of taste. The peach jelly added that extra hit of sugar while the quenelle of champagne sorbet was creamy smooth and slightly acidic.
The others had silver leaf on their cakes (yes I felt just a tad special to get the gold). Lots of mousse, chocolate cake and vanilla cream. I thought it would be quite a heavy chocolate cake but I was proved wrong. Both the mousse and cream was airy light and mixed between thin layers of chocolate sponge. A shot of the layers inside in the photo below. We all polished this off.
The ambiance at Tetsuya’s is quiet and intimate. There was a mix of people dining that day from couples, friends and a single diner enjoying this degustation. Service is very polite, proper and professional. I was provided with a stool specifically to place my large handbag on it while other ladies received a handbag holder that clips to the side of the table. Our nominated water varieties were constantly being poured without us asking for more. Fresh cutlery would be provided for each course/the next couple of courses. Once dishes were placed on the table, our multiple waiters would introduce the dish. One of the waiters couldn’t tell me what the layers were in the chocolate cake but other than that, most were knowledgeable about the food. I felt that though the service was professional, there was no light chatter and no connection to get to know the diner. It’s purely about serving food and drinks. Which isn’t a bad thing. I just felt that there was no personal touch for the entire 4 hours.
If you love seafood and can sit through 4 hours of food, Tetsuya’s is definitely worth visiting. It is expensive but the quality of food you receive is outstanding. The degustation and each course is exceptionally balanced. As mentioned previously I booked 6 months in advance for a Saturday lunch as it’s the only day that it’s open for lunch (and I wanted to see the Japanese garden during the day time).
Tetsuya’s is also open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday. I’d recommend booking a few months in advance for dinner too.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 25/30
If you want more random photos and updates about food, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram