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4
May 03
Sun

A Night at Tetsuya’s

I officially graduate from BIT this Friday. About 5 weeks ago, Jay, Kit, Pro and I decided to hold a pre-celebratory dinner at Tetsuya’s and thus, taking into account the requisite month-long waiting queue, made a booking there. Its reputation as Sydney’s most expensive, and arguably best, restaurant meant that it would be a unique experience to behold for plebs like us. It’s one of those things you only need to experience once to see, and taste, what others have been talking about. And thank goodness for that, because my bank account couldn’t take much more than one visit to Tet’s.

The day arrived last Saturday. After catching Shanghai Knights at the George St Hoyts (mediocre movie, best part was the outtakes at the end), we walked down to Tetsuya’s, which is directly behind the cinemas on Kent Street. It doesn’t look like a restaurant from the outside. From the street, you’re confronted with a sliding mechanical metal gate which leads through a small 5-space carpark ($20 parking) down to what looks like a security outpost manned by two burly guards in suits. The restaurant itself looks nothing like a restaurant, but would easily be misconstrued for some rich person’s house. By a case of contagious forgetfulness, no one could remember whether our booking was for 7 or 7.30pm, so at 6.30pm, we stood at the gateway debating whether to go in. The security guards opened the gate for us. We stood there for a while, motionless, still deciding what to do. They shut it again. We finally made up our minds and got them to open the gate for us again. After similar confusion with the booking time, Pro eventually arrived at 7.15pm. It’s a set degustation menu (apparently there are two variants of the menu, and which one you get depends upon which room you are seated in), so without further delay, dinner was served.

On the inside of Tet’s is a soothing mix of modern decor blended with a Japanese influence (not unlike the food). Abstract arty sculptures adorn pedestals, and even the male and female icons on the washroom doors evoked dinner table conversation. At 7pm the place was virtually empty, but there was a full house by 8pm.

The bread rolls were ordinary dinner rolls, but the butter for them was laced with parmesan and truffles. The menu contained 8 savoury courses, 4 sweet courses and 2 side dishes, totalling 12 courses. Servings were bite-sized, but by the end we were all extremely full. The meal was balanced, with most dishes being evaluated as “peculiar, but rather nice tasting”. I found it more pleasing than Rockpool, which tended to have a more strong and vibrant taste.

Hard to say what the highlight of the meal was, but Tetsuya’s signature dish, the ocean trout would’ve come close. The apple sorbet was sublime, as was the scallop and foie gras which just melted in the mouth. The taster dish with five servings (gazpacho, tuna, kingfish, venison and marron) was a palatable journey in itself. I don’t think I’ve described a meal like this before, and I feel like a pretentious tit for doing so, but it was quite exquisite. Combining all this with some terrific company, and it made for a terrific night.

The service was decent, though not perfect. For the first couple hours of the night, the waiter responsible for topping up our glasses seemed to be tripped up on speed because he’d liberally splatter a trail of water onto the table from one glass to another everytime, in his eagerness to move on to the next table. We requested a copy of the menu, but we had to remind them a second time to get it. Nonetheless, staff were generally attentive, and the rate at which courses arrived was well paced – enough time to digest and discuss, while not too much time so that we were looking around wondering if they’d noticed our plates had been empty for the last half hour.

It was five hours later, at about a quarter to midnight, when we eventually stumbled out of the restaurant and back into the real world, more than thoroughly satisfied. The standard meal is $170pp, with an extra $7 for the oysters, which were a special optional addition to the dinner on the night. Water is charged at $7pp, and we got a “cheap” bottle of wine (prices are double that of what you would pay outside). Add tip. The total damage was $210 per person.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Go there on a special occasion, just to experience it once. (Because really, at that price you’re not there just for the food, but for the whole shebang.)

Menu

Oysters (from Bermagui and South of Hobart)

Caviar & Snow Egg Sandwich
Beetroot & Blood Orange Sandwich

Gazpacho with Spiced Tomato Sorbet
Tartare of Tuna with Goat Curd & Wasabi
Marinated Fillet of Kingfish with Orange & Soy Jelly
Tataki of Venison with Rosemary & Honey
West Australia Marron Salad with Asparagus

Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout Loin with Kombu, Celery & Daikon

Seasonal Green Salad

Lobster Ravioli with Shellfish Vinaigrette

Carpaccio of Scallop with Foie Gras & Lime

Twice-cooked De-boned Spatchcock with Shitake Mushrooms & Citrus Jus

Selection of Cheese & Fruit

Nashi Pear

Sorbet of Granny Smith Apple with Sauternes Jelly

Hazelnut Soup with Chocolate & Hazelnut Sorbet

Mocha Floating Island with Lemon Scented Anglaise

Coffee or Tea & Petit Four