529 Kent Street , Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

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Chef interview

Chef and patron of Tetsuya in Sydney and also the excellent Waku Ghin in Singapore.

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Tetsuya is widely regarded, at the time of writing, as the solitary Australian restaurant that is world-class, with its fusion of French and Japanese cooking. Weekend evening meals are booked up as far in advance as two months ahead. It is a fixed, no-choice menu, and the same menu was on offer as the last time I ate here five months earlier. This was indeed the same menu that I had here a year or so ago, which suggests a certain amount of caution and lack of seasonality on the part of the kitchen.

The first dish had many facets: cold vichyssoise poured over some aubergine (very good), scallop served in its shell with a black bean sauce (19/20), cooked eel sushi-style on perfect rice with slivers of cucumber (18/20) and raw John Dory (3/5), and finally a single prawn served in its shell (18/20). My wife had tuna while I had the duck, served very rare with a tomato sauce and tapenade (16/20).

The best dish of the evening was stunning duck slices in a fan and an intense jus (20/20), and preceding this was a little fillet of veal with wasabi mustard sauce (20/20). The prawns with angel hair pasta dish was nothing like the same level, the pasta a little undercooked though the prawns themselves were good (12/20). Similarly, the desserts were ordinary. Chocolate sponge served with chocolate ice cream and passion fruit sorbet, floating islands, a raspberry tart (the best dish) with vanilla cream, and finally a crème brûlée with a chunk of mango, some lychees and some cherries (all in good condition). 14/20 for desserts overall. There was also the vile blue cheese and vanilla bavarois, an idea that should have stayed locked away in the kitchen if ever there was one.

This was a mixed meal with real touches of brilliance on show. There is a great wine list, with even Krug by the glass, but the matching wines were rather disappointing - best to just stick to a bottle you like. Also, don’t forget that you are allowed to bring your own wine at no corkage, an opportunity to drink something serious. Coffee was good with rich chocolate truffles and squares of chocolate with nuts (16/20), bread rather ordinary (bought in, really only 12/20). Service was very good. The menu here was identical to the last visit, and dishes off this menu were noticeably less good, so I am left to wonder how wide the chef's abilities stretch - cooking the same dish for lunch and dinner every day for two years gives you plenty of chance to practice. Still, this is probably the best restaurant in town - certainly with the most original cooking.

Further reviews: 27th Aug 2011

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