Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog


Petit Fours: a Sydney food blog

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tetsuya's, Sydney

Well by now you may have realised that I'm either really rich right, or really broke. I currently happened to be the latter. I was fortunate enough to go to Tetsuya's last year, however weeks before it happened to infamously lose it's 3rd hat. The hell with it. I found myself in utter confusion after that night as to why this may have happened. To summarise, my experience was truly magical, one of the best fine dining experiences I've been to, with every dish perfectly executed and the best top notch service to boot: warm, amiable and personal, yet professional and unintruding.

However, this night felt different. If there's one thing I've learnt to do before a really hype restaurant is to defuse that hype by disappointing yourself beforehand. Strange I know, but that way you really experience it as it is meant to be, without outside influences. That was impossible to do and I found last year's experience to be so flawless, I compared tonight and every other food outing with the night last year. That may have proved to be a mistake. A kind thank you to M for the gorgeous photos for tonight. A DSLR? That's more like it.

Oddly seems to be a pattern this year, but I came out to a cloudy, rainy and moody Spring day a short walk away from Townhall Station. I think I've used that same description about the weather for the past few posts. Blame the weather. One will never suspect that within the hustle and bustle at the centre of the CBD lies a random house with gates and traditional roof tops and all. And a valet. Inside it feels like the sort of place you should be on your best behavior. We are quickly greeted and seated, a verbal and informative menu given to us and with ready stomachs, onward we charged into the monster that is the Tetsuya degustation.

Your thinking it's just bread and butter, but I'm thinking it's also bread and butter hah! But it's the best you're ever going to eat. Best. You're given an option of Italian or sourdough and both are good choices so it's a good thing we went for seconds and thirds... and I was even considering fourths. Freshly baked individual rolls are warm, fresh and fluffy with a definite acidic touch. The butter is divine, aerated and whipped, it comes packed with flavour with a strong taste of parmesan and ricotta, cheesy with that delicate touch of the truffle earthiness, so good, it kept us eating butter and bread at a 2 to 1 ratio. Time for a run.

Corn Soup and Soy Cream
Incredibly sweet corn soup with a dense cream was a wonderful way to start the night, rich in flavour and light with just the right amount of cream.

Pacific Oysters with Rice Vinegar & Ginger
The sound of optional oysters were too good to pass up. It came served on a rustic ceramic plate and on a bed of seaweed. The vinaigrette, with its perfect balance of oil and tartness complemented the incredibly fresh pacific oysters. Shucked with not a shard of shell in sight, they were the right size, acceptably creamy and not with the usual unpleasant metalic taste present on most oysters.
Savoury Custard with Sea Urchin

The custard was creamy and melting, so much so, you could let it just sit on your tongue and let it disintegrate. It had such unmistakable clarity in flavour of dashi and was my favourite dish of the night. What had us bemused for quite a while was the use of a wooden spoon, ahhh the little things. The sea urchin was admittedly an acquired taste for some, but to me it had quite a peculiar yet pleasant texture, with a flavour almost buttery with a slight bitterness that was quite enjoyable.

Sashimi of Kingfish with Blackbean & Orange
One of the dishes we had last year and a favourite of my friends, the slices of kingfish were fresh and yummy, with a restraint use of mixed herbs created a different interesting flavour profile in every single bite. However the orange to black bean sauce ratio was inconsistent with my friend's dishes but there was a nice balance on acidity in mine.

Confit of Petuna Ocean Trour with Shaved Fennel
Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar
A signature of Tetsuya's; it's probably the most famous dish of Sydney and definitely worth it's hype. Confiting it in oil changes the texture of the fish to the point of almost flaking, yet retaining all of that sashimi freshness and it was such an interesting textural enjoyment with the quinelle of trout roe popping and delicious. The little salt row on the konbu crust provided a pleasant blast of saltiness that wasn't overwhelming at all and quite delightful. I was almost adamant that there was liquorice somewhere in that konbu crust, turns out after asking the waiter that the aniseedy flavour came from the shaved fennel. Embarrassing...

Steamed Queensland Spanner Crab with Bean Curnd, Foie Gras & Junsai
The sweet flakes of crab were quite generous with the delicate bean curd almost melting. One had to remark about the strange yet gratifying use of that junsai, a jelly like texture on the outside, and an almost mushroomy one inside. The restraint use of the foie gras gave it a slight oomph and was almost undetectable despite all the delicate flavours. Quite a lovely dish that just lifts the flavour of the crab.
EDIT: Seeing this dish a week after eating it on junior masterchef really enlightens me on the intricate nature and processes behind this dish. I really have to congratulate the 12 year olds on their remarkable prowess with being able to create such a masterpiece. Would of loved to meet the man himself.
Braised Veal Shank with Broad Bean & Smoked Bone Marrow
I was quite disappointed with this dish. I tried to trick myself into thinking the flavours were delicate but in all honesty, the flavour was lacking and bland, with the under seasoning not doing much to help. The meat was however, incredibly marbled, fall off the bone and melting and the bone marrow did its best to give off a certain heartiness but I was already over it.

Breast of Quail with Palenta Iberico & Garlic Puree
The exact same flavour profile of a dish we had last year, just differently plated, not too happy with that but nevertheless it was delicious. The quail looked dangerously raw but it was in fact wonderfully cooked and tender with a slight gamey flavour. Toasted rice and sprouts complimented the earthy flavours and the garlic puree wasn't overwhelming and combined the dish together. My friend enjoys her food a little more cooked to the well done side and we made that quite evident, however I guess that was lost in translation towards the kitchen. That palenta imberico inparts a deep and mysterious flavour to the whole dish.

De-Boned Rack of Lamb with Eggplant, White Miso & Blue Cheese
Same problem here where my friend had hers under cooked but I remain adamant that medium-rare is the only way to have lamb. It was tender and well cooked and the eggplant was creamy, with the controlled use of the white miso and blue cheese sauce making it a real winner.

Hay-Infused Ice Cream with Sorrel Granita
Bread & Butter Pudding
Man this dish was a real mind screw. The hay was barely detectable in the ice cream, to the point of non existent, though there was something nice in there that I couldn't quite detect but that granita was a real hero. It imparts a wonderful mysterious herby flavour that you can't quite put your finger on and it adds a unique twist to the usual sorbets I had last year. I have to say though, I liked the bread and butter pudding more. The bread pudding was soaked in a cinnamon mixture with dots of fruity sultanas and slight hits of vanilla with a creamy custard underneath. This is my sort of food.

Chocolate Pave with Cream Cheese Ice Cream & Cinnamon Twigs
The exact same dish as last year, one would think that a year later would come with the invention of a new sweet. Nevertheless, admittedly it was still delicious. Pave, mousse, delice, whatever you call it, this is probably the best you'll ever have. A chocolate sauce surrounds an interior of a dense, dark, rich and creamy mousse which is balanced out by that delicately flavoured cream cheese ice cream. The little crumbs felt unnecessary with the cinnamon twigs providing an interesting textural counterpoint. First you get that crunch, then that cinnamon hit comes in, able to stand on its own against all the flavours. 3 or 4 shards of salt on top of the delice were just enough to excite and cut through all the richness.

Macarons weren't that particularly great, with the coconut one lacking in flavour and the raspberry one only alright. The coffee was served in individualised mugs, each different from the other, really made you feel quite special. And instead of handles, there were finger grooves! Pretty cool. Tea was served in a woven teapot at the perfect drinking temperature, hot but not scalding and was full flavoured.

It was a beautiful night in a great restaurant however all in all, if there was one word to summarize my experience in comparison to last year, it would be underwhelming. The price of the degustation is unjustifiable, especially for repeat customers looking for a new Tetsuya experience and expecting perfection. Would I go to it again? Not for a long long while, not unless there's reason enough to believe the menu has changed for the better. With the promise of an 11 courser and instead only getting 10 had me disappointed which wasn't really helped with 4 repeat dishes I had last year.

None of it's dishes were particularly wowing, but with such consistently perfect execution of food, need there really be? Yes and no. Last year, it was acceptable because that restraint and balance and textures exhibited in his food was really quite new and excited me. This year, not every dish was perfect and I was hoping for a slight evolution in food with totally new dishes that exhibit his progression that still amaze which didn't happen. Tonight lacked that charm and incredibly affable nature that I had experienced last year and that to me was the highlight of that experience, more-so than the food.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the night, which I thoroughly did with very thought provoking, beautiful food and all, but I was just expecting a bit more. It's seems Tetsuya's presence within his eponymous restaurant is sorely missed and would do wonders to bring the excitement back in the restaurant. Here's to me hoping this fine diner will fight back for its place within the greats and re climb back to its former grace. Tetsuya's really is the once in a lifetime experience.

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Can I just say wonderful blog, and very well written! I just couldn't stop reading, and the pictures just made me extremely hungry.
Well done

@ IronMan. Thanks IronMan! We do our best and I try as much as possible not ramble on and be boring because a picture is worth a thousand words.

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No, we aren't the most amazing gastronomes or chefs. Heck, half our team doesn't even know how to cook... well. However, what we really love is eating. And lots of it. We enjoy that occasional freebie, filling up that craving for a midnight snack and finding a 20 in our pockets that we thought we never had, and using that as an excuse to go out eating. As we battle the ongoing war on uni student poverty, we'll bring you the most swoon worthy recounts of our latest foodie adventures.

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