Thursday, 26 January 2017

World's Most Photographed Dish at Tetsuya's, Sydney.

Despite being in Sydney for nearly two months now, I haven't actually tried *that* many restaurants. Don't get me wrong, I've been to plenty of pubs and cheap eats on Fridays with my work colleagues, but apart from that I haven't really invested that much time in exploring Sydney's fine dining food scene yet. The only 'proper' restaurant I've been to, is Restaurant Hubert, which was amazing, but I didn't have my camera with me. 

However this is all changing, and I have a few restaurant reviews coming up for you! First, we'll start with Tetsuya's, a critically acclaimed and award-winning French-Japanese restaurant in the Sydney CBD, that's part of the prestigious Relais-Chateaux group. Not only did it feature on the 'World's 50 Best Restaurants' list from 2005 until 2013, but it's also apparently home to the 'World's Most Photographed Dish' - the famous Tasmanian Ocean Trout, that's been on Tetsuya's menu for over twenty years.

Tetsuya's has been on the top of my 'to-do' list since I arrived in Sydney back in November, and with Sid over from London, it seemed the perfect time for two extreme foodies to check it out! Usually you have to book months in advance, but with a quick call to an AMEX concierge, we had a table for three booked in just a week later. 

Walking along Kent Street I was slightly confused by the location, surrounded by car parks, I felt rather lost, but eventually I stumbled across the gated drive and the sign for Tetsuya' soon as I entered the restaurant I felt as though I could be anywhere in the world. It doesn't feel like you're in the city, it's a little oasis and reminded me of the feeling you get in the Chinese Gardens of Friendship - it's only when you look up (or in this case, outside the front door), that you remember you're in the centre of a bustling city.

Our table was situated in the middle of one the restaurant rooms (there are three small rooms, providing a feeling of intimacy and exclusivity), overlooking the stunning and very peaceful Japanese garden.

Our waiter requested our drinks order, and when I mentioned that I was staying away from alcohol due to a sore throat, he kindly offered me tea instead. I asked for lemon and ginger, and he asked if I'd like honey in it too, to which I gladly said yes. To my surprise when the bill came, this was actually complimentary, despite the numerous refills of the teapot and the use of fresh ingredients.

The waiter went through the menu with us, and asked for any dietary requirements. Asheen isn't a huge fan of duck, so they offered to replace that course with either Quail or a fish dish. She opted for Quail as we had quite a few fish dishes coming up! Sid and I were fine with everything, although I did consider asking for a swap as I wasn't sure I'd like their signature dish...but read on to find out what I thought.

Our first dish was one of the most impressive of the night. When it arrived my first thought was "This is legit just three shrimps on my plate..."...but then I took a bite. The shrimp melted in my mouth in a soft explosion of buttery vanilla goodness. The flavours were unbelievable, and I just couldn't get my head around how such a simple and small dish could be so impressive. The vanilla made such a huge difference, and made the shrimps taste super creamy!

Next up was the Kingfish with picked kohlrabi and apple cucumber. Apple seemed to be the theme of the night, as it featured in a few dishes. Kingfish is one of my favourite fishes, and served raw this was probably my favourite dish of the night. In London you go to top Japanese restaurants and think the fish is fresh...then you come to Australia and realize just how different fresh fish tastes. 

Continuing with the raw fish theme, we were then served the 'World's Most Photographed Dish', the Confit Tasmanian Ocean Trout. The signature dish that has been on the menu for over twenty years. This was actually the dish I was most nervous about, and I almost requested an alternative. I'm not a huge fan of pink fish, with a rather large distaste for salmon. I had never tried Ocean Trout before, but from the colour I assumed it would have a similar flavour. How wrong was I! It was incredible.

A huge chunk of raw fish coated in seaweed crumbs and resting atop a bed of celery and apple with salmon roe. The flavours worked perfectly and I wish I could have eaten another plate of it! 

The next fish dish I didn't enjoy as much. The grilled shio kji toothfish had a very fishy taste, and was just a little disappointing. 

Next was the Miso cured duck breast with garlic cream. This dish was tasty, but not mindblowing. 

The most disappointing dish of the night was the final meat one...and the one I was most excited about. The Wagyu tenderloin with broccoli and pumpkin jus was just...bleh. The meat was too chewy, difficult to cut and difficult to eat. It should have melted in your mouth and instead all of us struggled to chew the thinly sliced wagyu.

Thankfully dessert make up for the disappointment of the meat dishes. After a tour of the kitchens (literally the cleanest restaurant kitchens I have EVER seen), we moved onto dessert, starting with an exceptionally tasty palate cleanser of apple granita with apple jelly. The granita tasted a little like an apple snow cone, or a fancy slush puppy without the liquid, but the acidity of the apple was delicious and reminded me of that first bit of a Granny Smith apple before the sweetness arrives on your tongue.

When I  tasted the first dessert, I'd taken a bite of the Roasted Soba Ice-Cream, and having never had Soba was a strange flavour. However it worked very well with the Rockmelon Granita, and I really enjoyed polishing it all off.

The final dessert was Tetsuya's Chocolate Cake, a delightful combination of rich dark chocolate, praline, and hazelnuts. Incredibly smooth but with a very thin crispy base, this dessert was one of the best I've ever had. Definitely one for any chocolate fans like Asheen and I!

We finished with petit fours, chestnut and cerise (cherry) macarons, and toffee and lavender chocolates.

Our entire experience at Tetsuya's was outstanding, the service was the best I've ever experienced at a restaurant. The staff always served from the left, always served the women first, and constantly made sure water glasses were topped up (all water, still and sparkling, is complimentary at Tetsuya's). 

Tetsuya's in no cheap eat, at $230 each for the degustation menu (the only menu option, also a degustation menu is the Australian equivalent of a tasting menu in the UK) minus drinks, it's definitely a very pricey meal. But do I regret it? No. Is it worth me living off Weetabix and tuna pasta for the next couple of weeks? Yes. There are some restaurants that as a food-lover you become obsessed with, constantly weighing up the pros and cons of splashing the cash for that meal you've been dreaming about. It's a hobby. But instead of spending hundreds or thousands on sports equipment or training, on collecting art, or purchasing a musical instrument, you spend it on food that's created with such skill it takes years to learn the craft, food that's created using the freshest local ingredients that deserve that extra price point.

I do however, think it's a little over-priced. For $230 I would expect every single dish to be flawless, and the fact is there were 2 or 3 out of 8 that weren't. If the price was around the $160 mark, it would make me want to return far more. As it stands, it was a once in a lifetime meal that I'm very glad I experienced, but I probably won't be returning. There are far too many other incredible restaurants in Sydney - and Australia - to try! Next on my list? Rockpool and the Icebergs Dining Rooms. Those reviews will be coming up very shortly ;)

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Tetsuya's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


  1. Ooooh, the shrimp and trout courses look incredible! So sad you were so disappointed with the beef course though. As the one spoilt with premium wagyu beef here in Japan, I would be quite upset not to get what I'm used to. Overall, though I totally agree that fine dining is worth saving up for and investing in if you are a food lover. I will be keeping an eye on your reviews, as I'll be heading down to Sydney in Nov and need some foodie tips :) xoxo, nano

  2. I love Masterchef Australia and I remember seeing Tetsuya all the time on the program! I can't wait to visit Oz to check out more restaurants like this!!!

  3. I can't believe this is the world's most photographed dish! I think I'd struggle to cough at $230 for this, but some of the dishes do sound delicious!

    Jodie x

  4. I love the look of the trout! We didn't get a chance to go to Tetsuya but I definitely will next time!


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