Review: Tetsuya’s

26 August 2015

Honestly, I almost ate the huge deposit I put down for tonight’s booking. After the 3 poor meals (including 2 tasting menus), I was ready to chuck it all and just get some down-home good ethnic food, of which Sydney has plenty. But shit, it’s already pretty much paid for, so… And since I was planning to catch up with 2 friends whom I’ve not seen in a long time (including one that I went to Goraebul in Seoul with), I could trooper through one last tasting menu.

Honestly, I doubt I will do another tasting menu for a long time…

My booking tonight was at the much-lauded Tetsuya’s, a perennial contender for best restaurant in Australia and frequently in the 50 Best list (which as I said is pretty much a joke). But I have also heard that since he opened his new place in Singapore, that has replaced this one as a food mecca, and sadly, the quality of the Sydney outpost has fallen (including all the charts). I am hoping that’s not the case, as I cannot bear another poor tasting menu!

I got there was was seated quickly. I chose a quick cocktail and looked over the tasting menu. Looks interesting, but it also looked interesting the last few evenings. I went with the pairing as well and just hoped for the best… Oddly there was no amuse (I guess it’s a modified kaiseki) and the pairing and first dish appeared when I finished my cocktail.

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An interesting presentation, a cauliflower mousse with some egg, ink and roe. Very mild, didn’t stand out much, but was interesting. A nice sake to go with it. Then we segued into the second dish, the tuna.

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This was actually rather nice, poached in soy. Strong flavours that really brought the tuna out. Now this is what to do with sauces, to BRING the flavour of the featured ingredient out, not to MASK it like they did the last 2 nights… Good start so far. After a little, the next course was presented.

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Under all that construction was a scampi tail. With caviar. Probably not necessary, but this bling-ish cooking probably does well here (and surely in Singapore). A so-so dish, the flavours worked okay but the seafood didn’t stand out. Oh well. So far pretty satisfactory, not Quay level but certainly not Rockpool either. Aeons above Sepia.

Chilled out a little and then the next dish arrived, which is Chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s signature savoury dish, the ocean trout.

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Looks beautiful and tasted nice. Solid flavours, the crust was a flavourful little touch. Nice, the flesh is very nuanced, and oddly the fish gets better if eaten slowly. I wish the temperature was a little warmer, which would have brought out the fish’s natural richness far more. But a really good dish (and I can see why it’s his special item). However, they were late with the pairing for about 5 minutes, so maybe that affected the fish’s temperature…

I was keeping touch with the friends I was going to meet later and I seemed to have timed this dinner pretty well without telling them anything. The next dish soon arrived, the toothfish.

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Actually a very nice piece of fish, lots of flavours here. Even better than the previous “iconic” dish to be honest, the fish prepared perfectly. Excellent. The pairings seemed to have come back to rhythm here. So far not bad at all, this place may have saved my perception of Sydney haute cuisine. A red came out and I knew we’re moving ahead and then we got some duck.

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Now this was a thousand times better than the duck last night at Sepia. Tender, flavourful, cooked perfectly. Sauce accentuated the already flavourful meat, fabulous. Best duck I’ve had in Australia (though that’s not saying much, even Quay fell down on that one). I was pretty happy at this stage. And there was one more savoury dish…can you guess?

You know, Sydney needs more creativity — 4 tasting menus, 4 final savoury courses were wagyu beef. Come on… And when the dish came out I did a double take…what is this?

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I sense my readers are asking the same thing. Supposedly cooked rare, just quickly seared, but…is this a patty or a random slice of loin? I cut into it and it looked rare but stringy as heck. And I took a bite…and it tasted of…SAWDUST. What the hell was this? This was so bad I actually took one more bite and dumped the rest…and told them to check the beef. Wow, this was UNHEARD OF BAD.

The worst dish of the year!

I was so turned off by that dish I totally lost my appetite. Oh, my goodness that was horrible. I wouldn’t feed a dog that dish even if it bit me!

I glossed over the palate-cleansing sorbet and then the first dessert came. Good, some melons to clean my mouth of this monstrosity of a beef dish.

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They did offer to do something else for me, but I was in no mood…I just wanted to finish. No more tasting menus. Then the final dessert. I know most people would drool over this, but not me…

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This is Tetsuya’s famous chocolate cake. Extremely rich, but I was not in the mood at this stage, so I just ate it like a zombie. I just wanted to go drown this meal with booze with my friends, who were just walking towards the restaurants. I told them 9pm earlier today, I walked out of the place at 9.01pm. I guess that worked for me…

Really, this was much better than Rockpool, but not Quay level. But that “wagyu”…ugh…I feel sick thinking about it. What a bloody waste. Really, NO MORE TASTING MENUS. Sick of this. Sick of Sydney. Thank goodness 2 friends rescued it at the end as we had a wonderful night out. But I just want to get to Tasmania and forget these meals…

When I get my credit card statement in a few weeks I will certainly scream loud enough for people 10 time zones away to hear, I promise…

Tetsuya’s
529 Kent Street
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

PS — now would it surprise you that this is the last negative review I have to write for the next 10 days of travel through the rest of Australia and Honolulu? 🙂

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One thought on “Review: Tetsuya’s

  1. Pingback: Ethnic Foods in Sydney — 3 quick lunches | melhuang1972

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