Thank you, Tetsuya

5 Aug

‘… Oh, and, book Tetsuya’s.”

I broke into a big smile, and proceeded. Just a couple or so weeks before the Family were due to arrive, and I secured a table for 6 at Tetsuya Wakuda’s 3-Hat restaurant.


We were given a private dining room, which obviously made us feel special, but I must say, I do prefer the normal dining rooms. The previous two times I had dined at Tetsuya’s I was seated in the central dining room. I do like to partake in the joint dining experience – watching strangers enjoy their meals and company, the swift, crisp, and elegant movements of the well-seasoned service staff, the muted tones of low voices in conversation… Tetsuya’s also take note about creating that ambience by arranging reservations such that each dining room will have a good mix of dinner parties of couples, fours, or large groups. That said, book well in advance for a table for two – They are usually booked out for couples for months in advance.

Our French waiter (He was bemused when the Father asked if he was French; “I wondeer whot gave eet away, eh?”) was really personable and friendly, and got us started on breadrolls (ALWAYS sourdough please!) and of course, Tetsuya’s truffle butter. Admittedly, it’s always something I look forward to coming to Tetsuya’s and trying to make it at home just doesn’t compare, somehow.

We said yes to oysters, including me. I’m not a big oyster-fan at all, I never was, but sometimes I give them a shot when I decide to let my life be changed by its taste, which so many chefs talk about that first ‘orgasmic’ taste of the oyster. So anyway, it was that day to try again. And I can safely say, that it will have to be Tetsuya to change my mind. I still don’t love them, but I definitely liked these oysters. The strong metallic taste was absent and it felt almost fresh in my mouth, partly because of the dressing, which I can’t remember for the life of me was, and it was creamy and smooth too. I wanted another one. Enough said.

Our first official course from the degustation menus was the Avocado Soup with Potato Ice Cream and Tonburi. Not many people, I realised recently, are used to the idea of cold soup, but I, for one, love it. I always grew up asking for my soups to be cold because I hated scalding my tongue. The soup had a sweet silky note to it, but the potato ice cream was, on its own, saltier, which balanced out really well with the soup. I could have a big bowl, but… I shouldn’t.

We moved on to the first seafood course, Sashimi of Kingfish with Black Bean and Orange, which the Family unanimously commented on how characteristically Chinese they found it. The saltiness of the black bean was lifted by the orange, and oh, that firm, almost crunchy kingfish sashimi.. Why were there only so few slices?! Right, only 10 more courses to go hm…

Scampi done three ways, was not unfamiliar to me, having seen a version of the dish 2 years back. Scampi in Tea with Lemon-infused  Oil was subtly flavoured, which was probably why we were instructed to eat from the middle, then left to right. Scampi with Capsicum was wrapped in prosciutto, giving a saltiness balanced out by the slight pickle of the capsicum, finished with the Scampi with Frozen Egg Yolk, which I thought was genius and lovely, in concept and taste. The scampi was fresh and creamy throughout – Always love a good scampi.

Oh, Tetsuya’s signature of Confit Petuna Ocean Trout with Konbu, Celery and Apple. People I know who have had it, remember it vividly, gush with passion, and/or wishes to have it again but in a supersized portion (yes, me included, duh); while those who haven’t, painstakingly save money to go there and have it. This is by far, the Father’s favourite dish, and he brings it up all the time when talking about Sydney food with his golfer buddies.

As it was placed in front of me, I was excited, but another thought ran through my mind: It looks smaller… The Family agrees, with a slight note of disappointment, but we attempted to savour every last bite in silence, hoping each bite will last longer in our mouths if we ate it slower… The salty, flavourful konbu on top, with the bewildering sensation of the trout on my tongue – it LOOKS uncooked, but when you cut through it and eat it, the texture feels like an in between between raw and overcooked. In short, it was perfect. Celery and apple made a great salad as well. Sadly, the course ended too quickly for my liking. I really need to stop dreaming of that supersized confit trout.

The Grilled Fillet of Barramundi with Braised Wood Ear and Chestnut Mushrooms was like a more delicate version of a Chinese braised meat dish, with the use of fish. The fish was not tough, which can often be the case with barramundi, and I always love mushrooms anyway. The sauce was slightly thickened with perhaps, cornstarch, which seemed Chinese as well, hence went down really well with the Parents.

Braised Ox Tail with Sea Cucumber and Yuzu was the first of the meat dishes, and it was quite a winner with the meat-loving Family. We love seafood, but we are definitely not people who will give up meat! I usually don’t think much of sea cucumber despite it being a delicacy of sorts and the Mother can make awesome things with it, but I suppose I never quite liked the texture and always thought it was rather tasteless. This time, the sea cucumber is thin and braised to the point where it almost melted on the tongue and had soaked up the flavour of the braising liquid, such as the ox tail meat. The yuzu was a nice touch of acidity.

I simply love the look of the Twice-cooked De-boned Spatchcock with Foie Gras. I don’t know, it could be the taut, smooth skin around the spatchcock meat, glistening with jus, and I know cutting into it, something succulent would be waiting for me. And there was. There was also truffle along with the foie gras, whichI felt actually overpowered the rich creaminess of foie gras as it is more pungent. But still, it felt almost decadent, and the spatchcock was indeed, juicy and succulent, so very tender! The barley risotto served was a welcomed change to the usual rice risotto, as it was a much firmer texture, hence it was not gluggy.

The Sirloin of Wagyu with Braised Leeks, Sansho and Soy, which was the last savoury course, was the highlight of the evening for me. A single thin slice of wagyu beef, but meltingly tender and rich from the marbling, perfectly paired with the slight tartness and sweetness of the sauce. I also loved the leek served with the beef. It had been braised to disintegrating-tenderness, soaked with flavour from the braise. Yet another one I just wanted more of, despite being stuffed from all the courses I had before.

So we moved on to the desserts, and began with the Banana Ice Cream and Pineapple Sorbet. Unfortunately, because I am strange and have a thing with only liking bananas as a fruit and in banana bread, I was not a fan of the ice cream but loved the freshness of the pineapple sorbet. Together, the sorbet lightened the creaminess of the banana ice cream, but I much rather preferred the sorbet on its own – because I’m just weird like that and don’t like banana ice cream.

At this point, as our martini glasses of ice cream were being cleared away, our waiter walked in with, lo and behold, Tetsuya himself! Our waiter knew we were from Singapore and brought Tetsuya into our dining room as a special treat for us. This was not the first encounter we had with Tetsuya, but it is always nice to meet the chef when you’re eating his great creations, THE Tetsuya Wakuda! No paparazzi pictures, but we chatted about food and his new venture in Singapore. With the Family in the restaurant business in Singapore as well, there was a lot to chat about, including the concept of his restaurant and the processes of setting up in another country. All sounds very exciting, I can only wish I would be able to pay the restaurant a visit when I go back to Singapore!

Our second dessert of Cannellini Beans with Mascarpone and Soy Caramel arrived as Tetsuya excused himself. I was intrigued by the appearance of the dessert, but I think I found the use of the beans in the dessert odd for me, and I simply could not figure out exactly what I was tasting and how the cream was distinct from the sauce. This was probably the dish I liked the least.

*Side note* Shortly after Tetsuya excused himself, our waiter presented the table with a dessert wine, compliments of the chef. It was a lovely wine and a lovely gesture, thank you! I must have seemed particularly pleased, because my glass was filled up the most – and I’m a lightweight! -hic-

And finally the last dessert of the day, and you know what they say about saving the best for last. The Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream and Cinnamon Twigs looked absolutely tempting in its dark, glossy glory, and almost looked too pretty to eat! In the last year, I have discovered the true joys of having salt with chocolate, and the savouriness of the ice cream as well as the sea salt flakes on top of the pave made the rich, intense chocolate stand out even further, as it slid smoothly down my throat. Chocolate nibs and the cinnamon twigs were good textural additions as well.

By the end of dessert, I was absolutely stuffed to the brim, but what better way to end the meal with some good coffee with petit fours? Vanilla, chocolate, and green tea macarons were served, but unfortunately I was so stuffed I could not handle more than one. We did take the remaining ones to save for later though..

Every experience at Tetsuya’s is a pleasant one – good food, and excellent service. The degustation menu was well-planned, from lighter dishes to heavier dishes, it was a good progression from start to end. It was a long dinner, but hey, once in a while, it’s nice to take your time to have a great dining experience. Service was thoughtful to the very end – Tetsuya arranged for the ladies in our group (4 out of 6 of us!) to each take home a bag of his products, such as his salad and oyster vinaigrettes, truffle salt or truffle salsa.

So thank you, Tetsuya, for yet another wonderful dinner, a wonderful evening, and your kind generosity!

Tetsuya’s
529 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: +61 2 9267 2900

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7 Responses to “Thank you, Tetsuya”

  1. FFichiban August 6, 2010 at 12:46 am #

    French hee hee hee HAW HAW HAW! but yeah this is your third visit 0_0 wowww. I still have yet to try! and lucky u gals got partybags!

    • Sook August 6, 2010 at 12:50 am #

      For some reason, the bag I was given was the only bag that had truffle salt instead of truffle salsa! Wonder if someone informed them that I had one already sitting in the fridge then hmm..

  2. Matthew (Masterchef) August 9, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    Sook, looks great. So much food though, how did you manage to eat it all?

    • Sook August 9, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

      The dinner took a LOOOONNNGGG time, and they were small courses, so not stuffing ourselves silly was all planned for. Besides, if you met me, you’d be amazed how I can pack it all away. ;] omnomnom…

  3. angie August 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Oh wow, THIRD visit? I’m yet to experience my first!

  4. Phuoc'n Delicious August 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Wowsa! Third visit? Someone’s loaded? I forever dream about that signature ocean trout dish too. Mmmmmm…

  5. thang @ noodlies August 23, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    wow! everything looks so delicious… i’m sooo envious!

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