- When: June 2017
- Male DINK Rating: 12/15
- Female DINK Rating: 12/15
- Total Cost: $500; Food Cost: $345
We visited Tetsuya’s Restaurant our second night in Sydney. Earlier this year, we had wanted to visit Chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s 2-Michelin-Star restaurant, Waku Ghin, when we were in Singapore. Unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow us a chance to dine at Waku Ghin, so we were happy to try Tetsuya’s, the chef’s original restaurant located in Sydney. Tetsuya’s is not currently ranked on any of the “world’s best” restaurant lists; however, it was at one time (it was on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list from inception in 2002 through 2012). We hoped this was more due to the new, trendy restaurants taking over and not due to the quality of the food. Seeing as how Quay did not live up to expectations the prior night, we were hoping to have a better experience at the long-established Tetsuya’s.
Tetsuya’s is a Relais & Chateaux restaurant located in a building nestled back away from the main street. Although we arrived a few minutes early, we were immediately greeted and shown to our table. Again, we were asked if we were celebrating a special occasion, to which we replied “no.” Tetsuya’s has two main dining rooms, each with a wall of windows facing a tranquil Japanese garden in the courtyard. All tables face the windows and garden. Our table was in the first row, right next to the windows, giving us a nice view of the garden. The restaurant is very quiet, elegant, and peaceful.
As we were dining on a Friday night, only the 9-course tasting menu was offered, so there was no decision to make regarding the menu. We were not shown a menu prior to the meal; however, the waiter recited the courses in lieu of giving a menu to ensure we found the different ingredients and selections for that night palatable. We perused the wine menu and decided on some white wines by the glass to start. Male DINK ordered a glass of 2011 Tyrrell’s Stevens Semillon and Female DINK ordered a glass of 2012 Pierrot Chardonnay for Tetsuya’s. Both were very good.
The menu started right away with the first course – New Zealand Roasted Scampi Tail with Vanilla and Lemon Zest. The scampi was served still in the shell, but it was fairly easy to coax it out with two utensils. Vanilla seemed like a strange flavor to bring to scampi, but it was actually very good and seemed to calm the inherent saltiness of the scampi. This dish was both delicious and delicate – a unique and wonderful combination of flavor. Great start.
The second course was Big-Eye Tuna Tartare with Wasabi & Ponzu Jelly. We love toro, and this was certainly no exception. The tuna was obviously of great quality and tasted nice and fatty as it should. The wasabi provided just enough spice, while the ponzu jelly paired perfectly. There were also a few crunchy sheets of rice giving some texture to the course. A really good dish with just the right portion size.
Next was the Confit of Tasmanian Ocean Trout, Salad of Celery and Apple, Salmon Roe, and Khombu. This is Tetsuya’s signature dish that has been on the menu for almost 30 years (!) – and we can see why! The trout was covered by a khombu rub on the edge and was served over both the salmon roe as well as the apple and celery salad. This course was exquisite. The khombu rub atop the trout was delicious, and the celery and apple salad provided a perfect amount of acidity and crunch. The only small criticism would be that the salmon roe was quite hard and difficult to “pop.” Nonetheless, a great dish – probably our favorite of the night.
The fourth course was the New Zealand Bass Groper with Sugarloaf Cabbage & Fermented Black Garlic. The groper was cooked very well, and the cabbage gave the dish some texture. The garlic was a really nice addition, giving the course some contrasting flavor. While this dish was good, it wasn’t our favorite.
Next was the Western Australia Marron with Davidson Plum and Smoked Butter. The marron was good, but wasn’t bursting with flavor. On the flip side, the plum sauce was a bit strong and overpowering. The result was the marron getting a bit lost when pairing with the plum sauce. The smoked butter was a nice added flavor, but this course just didn’t seem to go together as well as the other courses.
The sixth and final savory course was the Wagyu Beef with Mushrooms & Kale. The wagyu tasted good, but it was a bit chewy. Male DINK also felt that it was a bit over-cooked. The mushrooms accompanied the beef well, and the kale added a nice, light crunch. There was a citrus sauce under the other ingredients that paired nicely – cutting through the heavier flavors of the beef and mushrooms. A good dish, but we would have preferred the meat to be a bit more tender.
Next was a palate cleanser of Green Apple Jelly and Snow – a light, refreshing transition to dessert that didn’t cause a massive brain freeze like the Snow Egg at Quay Restaurant on the previous night. At this point, we ordered some dessert wines for the final two courses. Male DINK ordered the 2008 Sorelle Palazzi Vin Santo Riserva and Female DINK ordered the 2015 Michel and Marie Botrytis Semillon. Again, both were good.
The first dessert course was Poached Quince with Saffron Ice-Cream, Hazelnut, and Lemon Verbena. This was a fairly light and refreshing dessert. The quince provided just enough tartness, and the saffron ice cream was smooth and not too strong. The hazelnuts were a perfect, crunchy addition. A really good combination of flavors.
The second dessert course was Tetsuya’s Chocolate Cake with Vanilla and Macadamia Nut. It has actually been awhile since we’ve had a nice, rich, chocolatey dessert course on a tasting menu – and we’ve missed it! The chocolate cake was rich, but not too overwhelming. The center was filled with vanilla and macadamia nuts. It seems hard to go wrong with these ingredients, but, nonetheless, this was a very good dessert and a nice ending to the main courses of the tasting menu.
Finally, the last course on the menu were the petits fours – Pineapple & Lime Macarons and some Chocolate and Toffee bites. Although the pineapple and lime flavors seemed a bit odd for macarons, they were actually some of the better macarons we’ve had – very good and tropical tasting. The chocolate and toffee bites were also good – a bit heavier and a tasty ending. We were provided a copy of the menu before we left – always a nice touch (see picture at end of review).
Overall, Tetsuya’s provided an enjoyable dining experience – the food, the service, and the atmosphere were all up to par. Stepping into the dining room, you feel like you are a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We did notice that all but one table in our dining room were celebrating a birthday and had candles in their chocolate cake desserts. Maybe people in Sydney really don’t go out to the high-end restaurants unless they are celebrating? Anyway, we recommend trying Tetsuya’s while in Sydney, even if it isn’t your birthday…
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