These days Tetsuya is a man with a finger in more than one pie as the saying goes, like his new restaurant in Singapore, Waku Ghin. Tetsuya first arrived in Sydney from Japan in 1982. He opened his restaurant, Tetsuyas in 1989 in the original site in Rozelle – he then relocated to the present CBD site in 2000. Tetsuya Wakuda has guided his restaurant so it is now ranked as one of the World’s 100 Best Restaurants. Tetsuya has been named a Grand Chef Relais & Chateaux, a title given only to chefs whose talent and craftsmanship have seen them rise to the highest level in their field, deserving of such recognition and renown. He was also voted one of the world’s most influential chefs by the international press at the 2011 Madridfusion summit.
And so we began the 10 course degustation ($210 for one person, with accompanying wine course from $97) – in classic Tetsuya style, a blend of Asia alongside French food traditions. Here’s a selection of the 10 dishes beginning with Chilled Pea Soup with bitter chocolate mousse - a hint of bitterness from the chocolate sitting at the base, an unexpected surprise in the coolness of green pea soup – a perfect start to this a warm Sydney evening.
Salad of the Sea – Japan in this dish – with the beautiful translucent colours of raw fish and seafood against the taste of the clean salty sea – sometimes sweetness, sometimes saltiness and tinged with wasabi.
Next dish – New Zealand Scampi with Chicken Liver Parfait and Walnut Vinaigrette – the raw scampi with the inspired combination of chicken liver – silky smoothness and earthiness.
Next Tetsuyas signature dish – Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout with Fennel, Unpasteurised Ocean Trout Caviar.
Grilled breast of Partridge with Spiced Cherries and Cauliflower – the partridge breast was pink, moist and springy to the touch, a light crunch of the skin – gaminess juxtaposed with the spiciness of the cherries.
Lamb backstrap with summer vegetables and sheep’s yoghurt – the lamb was rich and smooth – the yoghurt with a slight acidity balance to heighten the flavours.
Pear Sorbet – clean, refreshing and intense pear explosion
Green Apple and Mint Ice Cream – cool mint ice-cream with icy green apple granita and a wafer-thin slice of dried apple
Floating Island with Praline and Creme Anglaise – this classic dessert, encasing dark running chocolate, always wins the crowd when perfectly executed.
We decided not to go with Tetsuyas matched wine option – instead we asked our sommelier to guide us through the wine list and select some special wines. Starting with a Keller Riesling from the Rhienhassen in Germany – a subtle light wine, without the characteristic sweetness from some German rieslings. Next a vermentino from La Spingta in Tuscany – minerality and flintiness – matched with the seafood dishes. Lastly a Pinot Noir – from Hurley in Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
THE VERDICT – At times the presentation of the food was not perfect, a little update is needed – perfection is expected at these prices and from this quality of fine dining. However, it is good to see Tetsuya has stuck to his principles of pureness of flavours and simplicity in the look of the food. Tetsuyas Restaurant is still the place to go when you want to transport yourself to another place – and experience flavours and service that you don’t get too often.
We should be justifiably proud of the influence of Tetsuya Wakuda on the development of Australian food and Sydney fine dining. He and other pioneers like him have understood our place in the greater Asian region and developed cuisine that is not a copy of British food traditions.
Chef: Tetsuya Wakuda
Wine list: 9/10
529 Kent St, Sydney CBD 2000