Following in the footsteps of the successful first French Wine Dinner at Marque and the moderately successful Australian dinner at Atelier came a dinner earlier this month with mostly the same group of people, at the famed Tetsuya’s restaurant in Sydney. The number of awards this restaurant has received is too long to be listed here, but it has been in the news recently as being awarded the fifth best restaurant in the world for 2006 by the UK based “Restaurant Magazine” (it was fourth in 2005).

I hadn’t been to Tetsuya’s previously, but my expectations were set very high (often a recipe for disaster).

Our group were the first to arrive at the restaurant at 6:30pm (as well as being the last to leave 7 hours later at 1:30am!) and we were given a quick tour including viewing the kitchen and one of the two wine cellars. We were informed that on Friday nights, there are 55 members of staff working for a restaurant that seats just 90 people. We had managed to secure one of the private rooms, the only downside to this being that our view of a small rock garden was not quite as nice as the two main rooms that look out onto a lovely traditional Japanese garden.

Allow me to say that this was by a large margin, the best dining experience of my life so far.

The service was flawless, with the pouring of each set of wines and the arrival of the next course timed to perfection. Our assigned waiter was professional yet also friendly; I imagine he is probably adept at changing his style depending on the people he is serving. There were the small touches like the staff taking our list of wines and printing a personalised menu with the wines and the courses for each person.

The food is faultless; the blend of natural flavours and textures is simply breathtaking. There was not a single course during the entire menu that I thought was anything less than amazing. There was no attempt at pretension or trying to set new extremes about the dishes, just a lesson in letting the flavour of the food take centre stage.

The cost is something that I imagine people baulk at, all together it was $250 AUD per person, this included the degustation menu ($180), the optional cheese plate, corkage ($20 per bottle) and an automatically added 12% service fee. I think it is something that you need to experience to understand that it is worth every single cent. For me, this was a dining experience that was a level above everything else in Sydney, we are lucky to have some excellent restaurants here, but we are genuinely blessed to have Tetsuya’s.

Giving this place a score seems almost like sacrilege, like trying to give a score to a beautiful work of art or trying to rate the memorable moments of your life. 100 points? 110? It doesn’t matter. Simply perfect.

Bread with Truffle Butter

Tetsuya's Bread with Truffle Butter

Gazpacho with Yoghurt and Basil Sorbet

Tetsuya's Gazpacho with Yoghurt and Basil Sorbet

Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1988 – (Champagne, France):
Fine bead. Intense nose of apple, cinnamon, quince and toast. Superb texture and balance on the palate. This bottle was probably drinking close to its peak. 95/100

Krug Vintage 1989 – (Champagne, France):
Again showing a very fine bead. Nose seems slightly more restrained and youthful than the Pol but exhibited some earthy, mushroom and truffle, mixed nuts and spice aromas. Powerful intensity on the palate but retains exceptional balance and stunning length. Drinking nicely now, but I would love to see it with some additional age and complexity. 95/100

Tartare of Tuna on Sushi Rice with Avocado

Tetsuya's Tartare of Tuna on Sushi Rice with Avocado

Tuna Marinated in Soy and Mirin
Soft Smoked Ocean Trout with Asparagus
Marinated NZ Scampi with Chicken Parfait and Walnut

Tetsuya's Tuna Marinated in Soy and Mirin, Soft Smoked Ocean Trout with Asparagus, Marinated NZ Scampi with Chicken Parfait and Walnut

Maximin Grunhauser / C. von Schubert Abstberg Auslese #56 Riesling 1995 – (Ruwer, Germany):
Youthful in colour. Initially very sulphurous but this started to blow off after some time in the glass to reveal pear, light minerality, rose petals and other floral scents. A slight sweetness tempered by a splendid core of acidity. The finish lingers and leaves you satisfied. 93/100

Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Goldert 1997 – (Alsace, France):
A burst of power on the nose that really made people sit up and take notice, furious swirling of glasses ensued. A few “wows” were uttered and the opinions seemed generally positive, that was, until people actually started to taste it.

The nose was rich, ripe and interesting with clove, honey, apricot, preserved peaches, lychee, turkish delight and a dash of botrytis. I didn’t find the alcohol too prominent on the nose, but if you were in any doubt as to the high %, a sip was all it took. Palate is alcoholic and has the same rich, ripe characters as the nose, with a harsh bitterness on the back-palate. It felt like the elements of the palate were fighting for attention rather than existing in harmony.

Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Daikon and Fennel

Tetsuya's Confit of Petuna Tasmanian Ocean Trout with Konbu, Daikon and Fennel

Ravioli of Queensland Spanner Crab with Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette

Tetsuya's Ravioli of Queensland Spanner Crab with Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette

Domaine Francois Raveneau Grand Cru Valmur 2000 – (Chablis, Burgundy, France):
Oyster shells, a touch of funky cheese, sea salt, and some soap initially, but with time in the glass the cheese and soap started blowing off to show more minerals, chalk, grapefruit and floral notes. The palate acid structure is close to flawless. A wine of superb focus, elegance, depth and class that is only going to get better with additional age.

Domaine Bonneau du Martray 1985 – (Corton-Charlemagne, Burgundy, France):
Aromas of baked cheese soufflé and blue cheese as well as honey and butterscotch. The nose is better than the palate which is short, flat and exhibits unbalanced acid. A shame since other reports have good bottles of this drinking at their peak now.

Twice Cooked De-Boned Spatchcock with Braised Daikon and Bread Sauce

Tetsuya's Twice Cooked De-Boned Spatchcock with Braised Daikon and Bread Sauce

Domaine Rousseau Clos St. Jacques 1990 – (Gevrey-Chambertin, Burgundy, France):
On the nose – beetroot, plum, cherry, sap, some stalks and some subtle oak. The palate proves joyous to drink – balanced, concentrated, with wonderful length and plenty of interest to keep you coming back for another taste. Must be one of the best red wines from Burgundy I have experienced thus far.

Domaine Rene Engel 1989 – (Grands-Echezeaux, Burgundy, France):
A nose of earth, undergrowth, mixed spices, sour cherry, with floral and perfumed notes. An elegant, silky-smooth palate with good length. I thought that this perhaps just lacked a spark of magic, and suffered a bit by being next to the Rousseau, on any other night it could have been a star. 91/100

Grilled Wagyu Beef with Asian Mushrooms and Lime Jus

Tetsuya's Grilled Wagyu Beef with Asian Mushrooms and Lime Jus

Chateau Latour 1971 – (Pauillac, Bordeaux, France):
An impressive intense nose of cedar, smoke, ash, herbs and roast vegetables. The palate shows all components well integrated and maintaining excellent balance and flavour profile. Classic mature Bordeaux. This bottle was at its peak and was drinking very well. 94/100

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1982 – (St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France):
Seductive, intriguing, complex nose – truffles, earth, liquorice, mocha, smoked smallgoods. A palate of supreme silkiness and rich, dense, youthful restrained power. Legendary length. I was lucky to take the quarter glass remaining in the bottle home with me, and the next night it was drinking just as superbly. Perhaps just a shade behind a magnificent 1985 Cheval Blanc that I was fortunate to have a few months ago but still fantastic. 96/100

Selection of Cheese for two

Tetsuya's Selection of Cheese

Chateau La Mission-Haut-Brion 1985 – (Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France):
Blackberry, blackcurrant and cassis on the nose. Some unresolved fine tannins on the palate. Seems youthful, but I wonder if it has the structure to improve further with age. A tough bracket of wines to be a part of and may have shown better if not in that level of company. Very good but not great. 90/100

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1986 – (Pauillac, Bordeaux, France):
An alluring, layered nose that delivered something different with each sniff – floral notes, cherry, cedar, tobacco, flint, pencil shavings and a slight yeastiness. A palate that is intensely powerful, yet oozes finesse and class. Excellent balance and length – it could well be a wine to be blown away by in 10+ years time. 96/100

Chateau Leoville-Las Cases 1990 – (St. Julien, Bordeaux, France):
A wild nose of brambly blackberry, black olives, ash, herbs, mint, some mulch and a fair amount of oak lingering in the background. A tightly coiled palate promising so much potential. Lots of pure sweet fruit on the gorgeously long palate. Was sacrificed too young (but it went to a good cause!).

Beetroot and Blood Orange Sorbet and Strawberry Shortcake

Tetsuya's Beetroot and Blood Orange Sorbet and Strawberry Shortcake

White Truffle Ice Cream with White Beans and Dates

Tetsuya's White Truffle Ice Cream with White Beans and Dates

Chateau Suduiraut 1990 – (Sauternes, France):
Orange gold in colour. Unknown to the bringer of the two half bottles, both had been “reconditioned in 2005” by the Chateau. Nose showed apricot, orange peel, marmalade and almonds. Harsh acidity essentially ruins the palate and the wine thins out and almost tastes weedy on the mid and back palate. Nose seemed overblown and the palate lacked any semblance of balance. 84/100

Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windsbuhl Selection de Grains Nobles Pinot Gris 2001 – (Alsace, France):
A sparkling, golden yellow in colour. A complex nose of honey, peaches, botrytis, apricot, pear, spices and creme brule. Palate had good clarity and depth of flavour. Supreme concentrated richness and sweetness but there is a core of acid in the background slightly struggling to keep up. No doubt a crowd pleaser, and almost certainly the best Pinot Gris I’ve ever had 😉 Will it age? I’m not sure it will, but I’m also not sure it needs to since it is a joy to drink right now. 96/100

Floating Island with Praline and Vanilla Bean Anglaise

Tetsuya's Floating Island with Praline and Vanilla Bean Anglaise

Petit Four

Tetsuya's Petit Four

Chateau d’Yquem 1971 – (Sauternes, France):
A deep gold orange in colour. Initially smelt alright but degenerated into raisins and burnt toast. Disjointed and oxidative palate. Cork was soaked through and crumbled on extraction. A poor bottle. NR/100

Chateau Coutet Cuvée Madame 1971 – (Sauternes, France):
Almost the same golden orange in colour as the d’Yquem. Intoxicating, rich aromatic nose of botrytis, caramel, honey, marmalade, apricot, lemon and lime. Intense and complex on the palate with acid still present and tempering most of the sweetness. A very good wine, and it was fitting that we should go out on a high note after all the great wines that were shared. If anyone happens to have any of this rare wine, based on this bottle it is well and truly ready as it will ever be to drink. 92/100

Join the conversation! 14 Comments

  1. We dined at Tetsuya’s last year and now I need to convince my husband every trip to Sydney should include a meal at Tetsuya’s….or maybe a visit to Tetsuyas is an excuse to visit Sydney.

  2. It sounds like my kind of night out. Any way I get some info on how to get invited next time?

  3. Barbara,

    I think both are true. Now I just need to save some money so I can go again in the near future!


    Most of these events that I go to are publicised on the Winestar forum at and are open to anyone wanting to come along.

  4. Just started reading your blog. Want to know what’s happening in the wine scene down under. Tetsuya’s looks like a great restaurant, how much is AUD 250 in Euros? My husband and I had dinner at La Clos de Violette in Aix en Provence two weeks ago. Probably the best restaurant we have in the Provence. We spent about Euro 120 per head plus the wine – a 2004 Gigondas Tradition Le Grand Montmirail from Domaine Brusset.

  5. Hi Eve,

    $250 AUD is around 140 Euros. I can’t wait to get over to Europe and experience the food and wine over there, but I figure that I would need to dedicate a minimum of a couple of years to see as much as I wanted to.

    Thanks for the link, I have linked back to you.

  6. Hi Cam,
    thanks for the link – I like to read your blog. Need to be informed what Aussie’s think about our wine. My husband Pierre and I were in Australia for 2 months in 1999 right after university; we loved it. No chance to go back though in the near future with 2 kids at school in Avignon. Let’s keep in touch – you must visit France.

    P.S.: A local vigneron (vintner)in Rasteau about Robert Parker last week: “Rober.. Parkeeeeer fait la pluie et le beau temps” – he makes the rain and good weather (a local proverb).

  7. I ate at Tetsuya’s last November and enjoyed pretty much the same menu as you did. Being more of a foodie than wine connoisseur, my focus was on the food. I adored the truffle and parmigiano butter that came with the bread, swooned over the morsel of NZ scampi with chicken parfait and almost dropped dead with joy when I tasted the ravioli: the Italian basil and tomato salsa somehow matched perfectly with the South East Asian crab and lemongrass mousse interior. But the crowning glory of the evening was the white truffle ice cream (mine came with sticky rice). I was in pure heaven. We didn’t get the matching wines but the sommelier selected a 2004 Henschke Joseph Hill Gewürztraminer (which made me a gewürztraminer fan for life) and the best dessert wine I have ever tasted: 2002 Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, (Rhône, France) – I could taste the peachy, honey and freesia flavours for days afterwards. Bliss.

  8. Thanks for the comments Anna – it really says something for the quality of Tetsuya’s that there seem to be a majority of people who talk about having had a great experience there, which runs somewhat counter to the usual story where people with negative feedback are the most vocal.

  9. Cam, I am catching up with your blogs after being away for a while – so am leaving comments on a few. I must say that I am more than impressed with this blog and a lot jealous!!! I have fallen in love with the Bordeaux wines (and Sauterne wines)quite recently and I was salivating at the food and wines as you described them – what a great piece! Pity about the d’Yquem. Next year, give your readers some prior notice of this event – it may be worth hopping on a plane for!

  10. Thanks for the comments Mal.

    Have been meaning to try to organise a few wine blogger meets (why should those food bloggers have all the fun 😉 ) but time has just gotten away from me. If you have reason to be down in Sydney and have a free night, let me know and we’ll organise something.

    Otherwise, is there any interest from any food/wine bloggers or even food/wine blog readers in holding an offline sometime? Somewhere rather less extravagant than Tetsuya’s would be the plan for the initial one.

  11. I, for one, am certainly interested – great idea!!

  12. […] A wonderful dinner on Saturday night at Tetsuya’s in Sydney with my family. Food, service and atmosphere were impossible to fault even though my expectations were sky high after such a wonderful experience on my first/last visit last year. […]

  13. I AM looking for origination or correct name of 1971 bottel of french wine. all I have is, CHATEAU BEAUSEJOC …… THE LABEL IS DESTROID. SHIPPED BY ALEXIS LICHINE INTO USA BY SOMERSET WINE COMPANY… CAN YOU HELP?????

  14. Andrew,

    Might it be Chateau Beausejour? ->

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