Friday, January 30, 2009

At long last...Tetsuya's!

Life works in a funny way. I was having a bit of a whinge to my friend when we were at Bistro CBD saying that I really wanted to go try Tetsuya's, but most of my friends aren't that interested in spending that much money on a meal. She suggested that I should ask PP to go, and I almost had to stop myself from smacking my own head! Of course! PP is the most likely candidate who will be interested! Over the next few days, I kept reminding myself to email PP, but I kept forgetting. As I was walking to work one morning, I kept saying to myself "Email PP. Email PP. Email PP". My phone goes off and I get an SMS from PP saying that he has a booking at Tetsuyas and did I want to join them! Of course I called back and started screaming that I wanted to go! The date was in 2 weeks! And I think that is one of the best things. I didn't have to wait 3 months to get a booking, because it was already booked!

I had a quick look on the net to see how to get to Tetsuyas. Now, I've seen the map of where Tetsuyas is located, and I've seen photos of the outside of Tetsuya. What I didn't realise (until I was on Google St View), was that I had walked past Tetsuyas over a hundred times and never knew!!! This meant I had no problems getting there after work where I met up with PP and friends.

We walk up to Tetsuyas gate which automatically opened for us. We're greeted by a team of waiters/waitresses before being seated. They even offered to put my bag in the cloak room. For those who want to keep their handbags with them, they provide you with a little hang bag holder that hooks onto the table. We've got a table right next to the window where we get a great view of the gorgeous garden before ordering a round of cocktails to get us started.

Sloeberry Bomb

Yin Sling No. 2

I ordered the Yin Sling No 2. My definition of a perfect cocktail is that there is a perfect balance of ingredients, and this cocktail was perfect. You can barely taste the alcohol in the cocktail, which makes it extremely dangerous as I was perfectly happy to keep throwing these back all night! Alas, we had chosen to do the wine matching with our degustation menu.

Before our first course, we were given a choice of a sourdough roll or a crusty italian roll. Not being a fan of sour dough, I went with the Italian roll, which was freshly out of the oven and still warm to the touch.

The sour dough and my bag number

The crust was crunchy, and the inside was warm and fluffy. I then proceeded to SLATHER the famous Tetsuya truffle butter all over the bread before consuming with gusto! I am generally not a butter eater. Usually I eat 1/4-1/2 a slab of those butter patties you get with one roll. But this was no ordinary butter. This was Tetsuya butter. The butter was whipped together with truffles, ricotta, olive oil and a touch of caramel. I was eating the butter like it was the cream on a warm scone.

The GORGEOUS truffle butter

Enjoying the butter one bite at a time....

Finally, our first course arrived.

Cold Corn soup with a saffron and vanilla ice cream

Everyone had a spoonful of the soup before sitting there goggle eyed staring at each other. OH. MY. LORD. This soup certainly didn't come from a can! It was smooth and velvety, lucious but light. The cold soup contrasted with the extra cold ice cream giving me an explosion of flavours! I swear my brain spasmed for awhile trying to process what I had just put into my mouth. It took me awhile to come back down to earth, and one of the first comments I remember hearing was "So are we going to make another booking before we leave tonight?".

Smoked Ocean Trout and Avruga Caviar...

...served with a glass of 2003 Clover Hill Blanc De Blancs, Piper River, TAS.

Oh my...wasn't this a pretty dish? It was almost a shame to eat it! But under the instructions of our wonderful waiter, we were told to mix everything together and enjoy all the flavour together. Cutting into what looks like a raw egg yolk revealed what looked like a cooked egg yolk!

Apparently the egg yolk had been frozen, and as it defrosts, it gives a texture almost like a perfectly cooked egg yolk. All the ingredients on this dish were in perfect harmony, wonderfully complimented by the glass of Clover Hill it was paired with. I loved savouring the caviar by popping them one by one in my mouth. An absolutely stunning starter which I would love to make one day.

Leek and Crab Custard...

...served with a glass of Hakkaisan Sake Junmai-Ginjo, Nigata, Japan.

This isn't really a custard, but a steamed egg/Chawamushi. Except it was the best Chawamushi IN THE WORLD! The egg was barely set, wobblying in the spoon as we tried to scoop it up along with the delicate broth the leek concentrate was floating in. It was like eating the silkiest, smoothest cloud.... This was an eye rolling moment. And by eye rolling, I meant everyone was gripping the spoon, their eyes rolled to the back of their heads as they enjoyed every mouthful of this. After every bite, we took a sip of cool sake to compliment the lingering flavour.

I personally am not a fan of sake. All of the sake I've had tastes a bit like rocket fuel. But all of the sake I've had is not of Tetsuya standard. But I know why people like their sake. It was incredibly smooth and aromatic and did not detract from the flavour of the dish at all. My favourite bit was getting to the bottom and finding a nice chunk of crab.

Scampi 3-ways (L to R): Grilled scampi in Pancetta.
Scampi in sea water and lemon scented olive oil
Marinated Scampi with white miso and passionfruit...

...served with a glass of 2008 Paradigm Hill Riesling, Mornington Peninsula, VIC

We started with the scampi in sea water and lemon scented olive oil. The waiter kindly told us that we were NOT to drink the liquid. Not that I'm stupid or anything, but when I see a shot glass out of the corner of my eye, I have an urge to grab it and toss it down my throat. This nearly happened quite a few times....

Anyway, to eat the scampi, we gently lifted it out of the glass on the skewer. The lightly sea water salted scampi will pass through the layer of lemon scented olive oil giving it just a hint of citrus flavour. Oh yum! Except that's not what I said, because I had my eyes and mouth closed so I can savour the taste. When we all managed to talk again, I moved onto the pancetta wrapped scampi.

To me, Pancetta is basically like bacon. And who doesn't like bacon? You can never go wrong adding bacon to everything because bacon is perfect. This made the pancetta almost better than a plate of pure bacon. Almost. Because bacon is perfect. SO. GOOD.

The scampi was much more delicate in flavour. Surprisingly, the miso and passion fruit went very well together. You don't taste the passionfruit upfront, but it had a lovely lingering aftertaste.

Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Apple, Daikon and Wasabi

Seasonal Green Salad...

...all served with a glass of 2008 Delatite Dead Man's Hill Gew├╝rztraminer, Upper Goulburn, VIC

This is Tetsuya's signature dish, and you know why when you taste it. I'm not even sure how to describe this, because no matter what I say, it won't do the dish justice. I can tell you however, that even a simple green salad made by Tetsuya, is better than most salads you can find out there. You must try this dish!

Terrine of Queensland Spanner Crab with Avocado Soup...

...served with a glass of 2007 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya's, Margaret River, WA.

MMmmMmmm Mmmm mMM MMmmMmm Mm MMmm mmMmmmm mMmmmMmm..... Sorry. I was remembering what this dish tasted like. This has got to be my favourite savoury dish of the night. I was literally left speechless, gripping the edge of the table in a reenactment similar to "When Harry met Sally". Embarrassing I know. But this dish literally gave me headspins it was so good! I had goosebumps with every bite of this dish. The avocado soup was delicate enough to let the naturally sweetness of the crab shine through. The only way I could describe this dish is orgasmic.

Grilled Fillet of Barramundi with braised baby fennel...

...served with another glass of 2007 Pierro Chardonnay for Tetsuya's, Margaret River, WA.

I'm not sure if I was still reeling from the crab terrine, but this dish really confused me (in a good way). It looks like a perfect French dish, yet the aroma was screaming "Chinese steamed fish with ginger and shallots". However, when I took a bite, I could only think in Japanese. Amazing! I am also not a huge fan of fennel. I rarely get fennel that is cooked in a way that I like it. I'm not sure what was done to the fennel, but I could barely tear myself away from the fennel to try the fish!

Breast of Duck with braised Witlof with Shansho and Walnut Jus...

...served with a glass of 2006 Felton Road Pinot Noir for Tetsuya's, Central Otago, NZ.

Perfectly pink slices of duck sitting on a lovely piece of braised witlof. Again, witlof is not something I generally enjoy. I've had witlof so bitter that I couldn't spit it out fast enough and have been scarred ever since. This witlof was perfect. I wanted more! MORE!

Grass fed Angus Beef Fillet with asian mushrooms...

...served with a glass of 2003 Parket Estate Terra Rossa Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, SA.

You know your beef is going to be perfectly tender when they give you a butter knife instead of a steak knife. The beef was buttery and melts in your mouth. The asian mushrooms was a perfect accompaniment to the dish. HP is allergic to mushrooms, so they kindly paired her beef with some grilled white asparagus instead.

** By this stage, I was seriously behind with the wine. I still had my glass of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir AND my Cab Sav! I had given up on the Chardonnay, threw back the Pinot Noir so I could enjoy my beef with my expertly paired Cab Sav.

Heidi Gruyere with Lentils

This is an inbetween palette cleanser to help transition you from savoury food to dessert. We held the spoons for awhile, sniffing and sniffing. And all I could really smell was the cheese. Kind of like mild parmesan (aka, old socks). The taste, however, is nothing like what it smelt. I reminds me of a Chinese red bean soup crossed Thai sticky rice (Sweet and salty). It was certainly nice and interesting.

White peach sorbet with Champagne Jelly
Summer pudding...

...served with a glass of 2007 Heggies Botrytis Riesling, Eden Valley, SA.

We started with the White Peach sorbet and Champagne Jelly as we didn't want it melting. This was a fantastic idea as it was incredibly delicate and refreshing. Plus, once we tried the summer pudding, we may not have gone back to the sorbet!

The summer pudding was incredible. The fresh summer berries with the creamy dollop of cream on top. But the best was at the bottom of the shot glass. It was the most incredible custard I've ever had. It was super custard! Did I mention that I'm not a fan of dessert? I would happily give up a dessert course in exchange for an entree course. Tetsuyas has changed the way I think! GIMME MORE!

Lemon scented floating island with vanilla bean anglaise...

...served with another glass of 2007 Heggies Botrytis Riesling, Eden Valley, SA.

They weren't kidding when they said floating island. It should really be called a floating cloud. Incredibly light and fluffy, the centre of a perfect meringue without any of the crunchy outer shell covered in the most decadent vanilla anglaise. The candied lime peel was incredibly aromatic yet delicate at the same time. I know I've been using the words "delicate" and "light" a lot, but the food really is delicate and light. Yet, it manages to give you a real hit of flavour without over powering anything. Genuis.

Chocolate Ganache with Green Tea and Red Bean...

...served with a glass of Romate Moscatel Ambrosia, Jerez, Spain

Hahahaha.....oh gosh.....this was heaven. The rich dark chocolate ganache was the perfect way to end the dessert courses. Velvety and creamy at first, then you get the crunch of that chocolate toffee disk, followed by the lovely bite of red bean. And then, a slightly bitter after taste of green tea. I LOVE green tea. Especially when its JUST on the verge of almost being bitter. I could eat 10 portions of this and I still won't get sick of it.

The room we were sitting in had started to empty, giving me a chance to run my finger through the plate trying to get the last of the chocolate. Classy!

Petite four - Short bread, coconut biscuit type thing, green tea marshmallow and chocolate macaroon with lime and pepper.

We were offered tea and coffee, but I really was too full to have anymore. I mean, I did have 11 glasses of wine by this stage! However, we did not say no to the Petit Four when they brought it out!

We started from left to right. The shortbread is like the king of shortbreads. It must be 80% butter since it literally melted in your mouth. It was soooo buttery and decadent! I'm glad it was such a small bite, because it can not be good for you if it tastes so good!

We couldn't figure out what the second ball is. Its kinda of like a coconut macaroon with biscuit bits in it. Whatever it was, it was good.

The Green Tea Marshmallow was....was...I don't know how to describe it. Spine tingling? Mouth watering? Eye rolling? Toe curling? Orgasmic? None of that can capture what I tasted. This time, the whole table joined me in reenacting "When Harry met Sally". I'm soooooo glad the rest of the customers had left at this stage! Oh my. I still get a little out of breath when I think of this. Soft and fluffy, not like those horrible marshmallows you get at the supermarket. It was incredibly intense in green tea flavour. Again, almost bordering on bitter. I am definitely going to learn how to make this!

The last was the chocolate macaroon with a lime like ganache and a definitely hit of pepper. That's right, pepper. And yes, it tasted wonderful! I've never had pepper in a dessert, who knew it would work so well?

By the end of the meal, 5 hours had passed. This wasn't just a meal, it was an experience. And when you have such wonderful company to enjoy it with, it was worth every cent we paid. Oh, and how much was the overall damage? $350 pp. Well worth it in my opinion. Now to just get another booking.....

529 Kent St, Sydney
+02 9267 2900

Monday, January 26, 2009

Last minute bentos

One thing I hate about summer is the setting sun shining into our kitchen at 7pm at night. The sunlight is so intense, washing your hands will make you sweat from the heat. This makes it a pain in the butt to make my bento after dinner, so instead, I procrastinate until the sun goes down. Except then I have to scramble around looking for ingredients to wack my bento together. Thank goodness I keep the fridge well stocked. Here are the absolute last minute bentos I made, usually after 10:30pm. Yes, I'm that lazy.

I had to stay back late at work one night, so I packed this as a snack to tide me over until I got home.

Left: Smoked Salmon, cream cheese and lettuce tortilla wraps
Top right: Stringer shapes
Bottom right: Cucumber and capsicum strips

Left: I have no idea what to call this. The literal translation is "Flavoured rice". This is one of our favourite comfort food that we made in our family village. Its rice boiled with chinese sausage and cured meat, fresh chicken/pork/beef, dried shrimps/oysters/scallops, beans or peas of some sort and lots of shallots and ginger. Mix it all up with a little soya sauce and eat by the bowlful.
Top right: Cheese and bacon puffs and mediterrenean puffs.
Bottom right: Dragon fruit, one of my absolute favorites. But only if its the white variety. I absolutely hate the bright pink variety. It tastes like someone has sprayed deoderant or perfume in my mouth.....

You can almost guarantee that when I make bibimbap for my bento, that I had pho for dinner!! Since we make our own Pho at home, we have almost all the ingredients I need for a bibimbap. The 2 main ingredients that I don't always have on hand is beef for the bugolgi beef and bean sprouts. I added some sauteed zucchini, carrots and shredded egg. I also pan fried some Mandu (Korean dumplings) to go with it.

I had family friends over for dinner who spent the whole night sitting in the kitchen cooking. Not wanting to cook infront of them and getting them salivating over my lunch (No! I'm not sharing! hehe) I had to cook in our other kitchen. I loaded my arms up with as much as I could carry without looking like a piggy hog, I managed to whip this up.

Left: Cha Soba
Top right: Salad with artificial crab stick.
Bottom right: Mandu

My lazy vegetarian fried rice with added cherry tomatoes. I also quickly cooked up some beef patties. That's the last of my beef patty stash, will need to make more for the freezer soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year Eve FEAST! Year of the Ox

I think my Mum has outdone herself this year! The poor woman has been preparing 2 days for our CNYE Feast. And to make things more difficult, my cousin insisted on buying us a Lobster to contribute towards the dinner. As nice as that was, it just meant an extra dish for my Mummy to cook. But damnnnnnnnnn it was good!!

Our $180 Lobster monster being sized up

Please don't eat me...!

But you're too delicious!

We turned the huge Lobster into a tray of Stir Fried Lobster with ginger and shallot sauce sitting on a bed of e-noodles. We made sure it was extra saucy so the noodles could soak it all up. No one ate any rice tonight, only the noodles.

2 Dozen oysters

HUGE Jumbo oysters steamed with XO sauce on a bed of vermicelli

Salmon and Tuna Sashimi

The fish mongers at the markets really took advantage of the double holiday whammy this year. Oz day and CNY meant everyone was out to get seafood. The tuna sashimi price got jacked up to $80/kg?!

Nin Nin Yow Yu - Steamed whole Barramundi with ginger and shallots

Lettuce - To Signify growth of wealth

Whole roasted duck

Ham-less and chicken roll

For a bit of a twist to celebrate CNY, we replaced the ham in a ham and chicken roll with a whole Chinese sausage.

Fat Choi Ho Soi

This was a slow braised dish of pork trotters and tongue, mushroom, black hair moss and dried oysters. This is a must have dish to signify fortune and good luck.

What's the hidden surprise?

Flipped upside down...

Another slow braised dish of Roast pork, sea cucumber, chestnuts, mushrooms, dried oyster and dried scallops.

Whole white boiled chicken

Tong Yuen - Glutinous Rice Balls in soup

Part of the feast

We couldn't actually fit all the dishes onto the lazy susan. Nor could I fit the whole thing in the photo without me having to climb onto the kitchen bench. Oh, there was one other dish which we had forgotten about until everyone was full. Total of 13 dishes! To say I was stuffed like a Turkey was an understatement!

Happy Chinese New Year everyone! May the year of the Ox bring you love, happiness, prosperity and good health!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The not so healthy bentos....

I love my Bentos and the fact that I'm bringing something home made, cheap and healthy to work. But sometimes, I like to treat myself to something a little more sinful.....

Left: Salad of cucumber, carrots, capsicum and home grown organic lettuce. I then sprinkled some chopped honey almonds ontop.
Right: Homemade wedges, seasoned with pepper, paprika and my private stash of KFC chips salt! And the other half? Thick juicy slabs of chicken schnitzel!

Top: Vegetarian curry fried rice
Bottom: Salt and vinegar chicken strips on a bed of salad with extra corn (I'm loving my corn). At the Coles in the city, they sell these salt and vinegar chicken strips freshly fried in the hot food area. I've been really good and stopped myself going there to buy them. Instead, I bought the frozen pack and oven baked it instead. Not healthy, but not as bad as freshly deep fried!

This is my ultimate comfort food! It was something I used to make after school to cure my hunger pangs, and guaranteed to satisfy every time! Instant noodles (without the soup) with oyster sauce and a dash of seasame oil. That is the most basic lunch if I can't get my hands on any other ingredients. When I can, I love to add boiled lettuce, pan fried eggs and either pan fried ham or thick slabs of spam. Not healthy by a long shot, but oh so comforting!

Edit: I just realised this looks like an abstract painting! Green fields with spam mountains. Golden white cloud with a sunny egg yolk when the sun is going to set!

Trying some new Bento ideas

After cleaning out all my Bento supplies in the freezer for Xmas, I have to replenish my supplies. And what better chance than to try something a little different?

This was an uber simple bento to make! The beef mince was sauteed with soya sauce, sugar and lots of pepper. I drained all the sauce and poured it all over the rice before putting the mince on the rice. This ensures all the rice is nice and flavoursome. I then sauteed some grated carrot and diced beans in the same pan with extra pepper and soya sauce. The corn was straight from a can!

Tomato fried rice with Shang Dong Chicken

Very simple vegetarian fried rice with cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes add an extra dimension of flavour and subtle sweetness. The Shang Dong Chicken is a chinese dish of fried chicken with a sour sauce with lots of chilli, garlic and coriander.

Left: Grilled lamb with BBQ seasoning. Chicken and mushroom ravioli with a simple tomato sauce. I lurrrrrrve this chicken and mushroom ravioli! Absolutely delicious! I probably didn't need the lamb to enjoy this meal.
Top Right: Sweet white peaches
Bottom Right: Edamame and cucumber

Top Left: Tomato and cucumber salad
Bottom Left: White Donut peaches and home grown strawberries. I absolutely ADORE the white donut peaches. If only I can eat it all year round!!!
Right: My version of Chapchae (Korean stir fried sweet potato noodle). Doesn't look too bad for a first timer aye?