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Have you been to Tetsuya’s?

It seems to be the most frequently asked question this evening. My answer is a ‘No’. I had the idea of celebrating A Table For Two’s 1st blogiversary at Tetsuya’s last year. Despite that I made the phone call to the restaurant trying to reserve a table few months ahead, my name on the waiting list is all they could offer me. Not surprised but not disappointed, I never received a call back and haven’t really pursuing since. As much as I look forward to my first experience at Tetsuya’s, I do not want to dine there simply because everybody raves about it; I even rejected an offer of a table at a random date through a friend who has access to the booking. I simply can’t accept it because I knew I would hate myself if turns out that I didn’t enjoy it at all not because of the food, but because of a random boring Tuesday night at Tetsuya’s is not what I’d called a “dining experience”. But the time has come…

I found myself inside a black sedan with tinted glass, still feeling a little surreal and my mind draws a blank. Everything outside my window is reversing in slow motion as our car inches closer to our destination. We pass through the black wrought iron gate into a tranquil Japanese garden in the midst of the concrete jungle. I am here, and this is my first dinner at Tetsuya’s.

Tonight is a very special night. I am one of the ten lucky food bloggers that are invited to attend a Electrolux Masterclass with world renowned chef, Tetsuya Wakuda himself. You probably have seen the full page ad of Tetsuya’s new Electrolux kitchen inside the Good Weekend section of SMH’s newspaper, that is the kitchen where the Masterclass will be held. Throughout the masterclass, Tetsuya will demonstrate how to cook some dishes using the new innovative Electrolux kitchen appliances including the very sexy touch-control induction cooktop from the ‘Ebony Kitchen Collection’. I think I have some serious kitchen envy!

Chef Tetsuya is extremely friendly and down to earth, he is always ready to answer any questions and shares some cooking tips during the masterclass. But the evening doesn’t end there. Tetsuya has also prepared a 10-course degustation dinner for us, including his signature dish, Confit of Ocean Trout. Once in a lifetime opportunity like this don’t come by very often and it can be yours! One of the ATFT’s readers will be the lucky winner to attend the Electrolux Masterclass with Tetsuya Wakuda on the evening of Tuesday 24th August 2010 from 6pm. Read on to find out more about the masterclass and how to enter the competition.

SPOILER ALERT!: Just in case if you think you are going to win the competition and prefer not to know what the Masterclass entails, and would like to experience the masterclass first hand, then skip the post and click on the button to enter the competition.

The stunning new MasterKitchen by Electrolux, looks more like a showroom but is actually a fully functional kitchen, designed with practicality in mind. A massive white calcutta marble bench which is the focal point of the kitchen, fitted with two touch-control induction cooktops on each side, and a sink that is operated using a knee pad instead of a tap. A frameless shiny black fridge is built into the dark wooden cabinetry that adds warmth to the kitchen.

As we all gather around the white marble bench, Tetsuya welcomes us into his new kitchen with open arms. This is the first time Tetsuya has such intimate cooking demonstration in his kitchen as I am literally standing right next to him in the proximity of an arm length. He confesses that he is actually a little nervous and also shy, but it soon wears off with lots of laughing moments throughout this evening. We kick off the masterclass with a quick demonstration on how the induction cooktop works and its efficiency by grabbing Christie’s (Fig&Cherry) hand and weighs it down with his own plump one to feel how quickly it heats up the bottom of a pan.

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I find him very calm and peaceful in the kitchen, and his cooking technique is simply mesmerising. This is not Hell’s Kitchen, there are no shouting, no swearing, nor giving instructions in a demanding tone; he simply whispers in the apprentice’s ear of what he needs and they will fetch it back for him within seconds.

“I’ll show you.”

It seems to be the only answer Tetsuya will give us to most of the questions we’ve asked. Within the two hours, Tetsuya whisked up scramble eggs with creamed corn and ricotta; steam-baked scampi on low degree in the oven with cling wrap; seared scallops by pouring hot sesame oil over the top; a simple bamboo leaves steamed Alaskan crab legs; snapper fillet cooked in olive oil using the same steam-baked technique; and also a not-so-traditional chicken tagine dish without using a tagine.

Tetsuya also confesses that he doesn’t cook for himself, and also doesn’t like to invite friends over to his place for dinner. Why? Because the restaurant is his house and confidently named it “Tetsuya’s”. That’s where he enjoys cooking and his friends will come to enjoy his food.

Tetsuya seems to be having a good time throughout the masterclass even though he is the only person who has to cook while the rest of us just stand there and taste his beautiful creations. “I really enjoy tonight. I enjoy cooking for people who loves food,” Tetsuya says before concluding the masterclass this evening. A quick round of photoshoot with Tetsuya before we all ushered in to the dining area for our degustation dinner.

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Okay, where to start? The white bread roll on my side plate looks like a helpless snail has just flipped itself over and she is going no where. No mercy on this warm fluffy, crusty bun as I slathered in a thick layer of that smooth black truffle salsa butter and put it in my mouth without hesitation.

We start off the degustation with a pumpkin soup. A reverse sunny side up in the bowl, the pumpkin soup is served chilled with a dollop of white miso cream and sprinkle of chives on top. Very interesting combination by using miso instead of the usual sour cream.

The hiramasa kingfish is prepared the same way as he did with the scallops during the masterclass earlier but I presume skipping the step of pouring hot oil over the top because the the kingfish sashimi should be served raw. The two thin slices of sashimi simply melts in the mouth, nicely infused with a concoction of soy, mirin, chopped blackbean and orange zest. It is balanced off with the crispness of leek, wakame, spring onion, coriander and chilli.

Another dish demonstrated during the masterclass, but this time the soft roast scampi tails are served with wakame and charred witlof in a citrus oil. The scampi tails are just cooked through with the aid of citrus oil to finishing off the cooking process, the soft yielding flesh is divinely sweet. Charred witlof adds texture to the dish and its bitterness enhances the flavour of the scampi to a new level.

Then I finally get to taste his signature dish, the confit of petuna ocean trout. Tetsuya changes his menu using fresh produce according to season, hence the ocean trout is served with different ingredients than the normal pairings. The dramatic presentation has also changed slightly, the side of the confit that coated with specks of kombu and wakame is now hidden, face down; resting on a bed of goat cheese and non-pasteurised ocean trout roe, then topped with finely chopped eggplant and zucchini which in my opinion is a little too much for the delicate flavour of the trout.

Tetsuya’s ocean trout is famous for its distinctive vibrant orange hue that makes it jumps out of the plate, it does make one wonder how do they achieved such result. The colourings enhancing fish pellets is the key, Matthew Evans found out how.

Our fifth course, the raviolo of octopus is possibly the least well received at the table. The raviolo is compacted with diced octopus, sushi rice and served in a Italian salsa dressing of tomatoes, oregano and black olives. While others think the flavour is a little too domineering and left half untouched, I actually found the rich aromatic flavour comforting and help myself to the second extra serve on the table.

We have tasted all the seafood dishes and now onto the meat dishes. The tender breast of young chicken is served with creamed corn mash and foie gras hidden underneath. I believed the thin layer of chicken skin on top had been separated from the breast, then marinated or cooked in brine as it is extremely salty in comparison to the sweetness of the meat and creamed corn. I wish I can understand the theory of the combination of this dish but unfortunately it is not one of my favourites.

The sirloin of wagyu is the last savoury dish of this evening. The thin slices of rare wagyu are incredibly tender to the point where chewing is almost unnecessary. Served with sweet caramelised braised leeks for colour and texture, in a peppery sansho and soy sauce glaze. Too many wine in one night, but I believe this is the only rich dish that paired with red wine, a 2004 Torbreck Grenache/Shiraz made especially for Tetsuya from Barossa Valley.

It’s already 11.30pm and I stated to feel tired and contented at the same time from all the food. I am not alone, everyone is also a little quieter and subdued when the little palate cleanser is served. The refreshing pione grape sorbet instantly perks up those over indulgence weary souls with its chilling sweet flavour which is very similar to the Kyoho grapes I’ve tasted in Japan.

The first dessert of the evening is cannellini beans served with mascarpone cream cheese and few swirls of soy caramel. The salty and sweet combination of soy caramel and mascarpone cheese is heavenly well paired but the fresh cannellini beans are firm and bitey, a few of us finding the coarse textures of the beans are a little too much. I have to agree as it gets stuck everywhere inside my mouth and in between the teeth.

Suze (ChocolateSuze) and Helen (grabyoufork) are familiar with the last dessert as they’ve had it before during their previous visits to Tetsuya’s. The floating island, a fluffy meringue as light as a feather, is seemingly “floating” softly on a double anglaise of vanilla bean and praline. The waiter tells us that the little trick to get rid of the egg white smell is by adding rosemary that had been ground into powder. And he also informed us that they have prepared a little surprise inside the floating island by injecting an extra trail of chocolate sauce next to the normal raspberry coulis. The sauces ooze out with a gentle flick of my spoon, and every mouthful is pure bliss.

We conclude our excellent degustation with petit fours. The soft green tea marshmallows are strongly infused with matcha flavour, date & coffee friands are moist and moreish and the chocolate macaron is chewy with a soury lemon curd filling. People think I am crazy to order a long black after midnight, but I’ve never known caffeine to affect me at all and I still can sleep like a baby. By the time we finished our meal, it is way past midnight and our drivers are already waiting outside to bring us back to our hotel where the comfy beds await us.

I have fulfilled my dream of dining at Tetsuya’s and it turns out to be even more special than I could have asked for. And one of you will have the opportunity to win a place at the Tetsuya’s masterclass on the evening of Tuesday 24th August 2010. All you have to do is click on the button below and answer a simple question: “What is your favourite feature in Tetsuya’s new Masterkitchen?” in no more than 25 words.

  1. Promotion is only open to Australian residents over the age of 18 years.
  2. The 12 best entries received will win a single invitation to an exclusive Tetsuya Master class at Tetsuya’s restaurant, 529 Kent Street SYDNEY, NSW – on the evening of Tuesday 24th August 2010 from 6pm. This will include return economy airfares from the major prize winner’s nearest Australian capital city. One nights’ accommodation on the night of the Master class Tuesday 24th August 2010. A private car transfer for the winner from their accommodation within the Sydney Metro area (50km radius from Sydney city centre – GPO) to Tetsuya’s restaurant for the master class and then back to their accommodation within the Sydney Metro area stipulated above.
  3. All entries must be received by 12 midnight AEST Tuesday 4th May 2010.
  4. Click here for the Terms & Conditions.

Tips: You are encouraged to follow ATFT on Twitter and join our Facebook fan page to get the latest ATFT updates, because there are more exciting competitions coming soon! You seriously don’t want to miss out!
[A Table For Two attended the Masterclass courtesy of Electrolux and Tetsuya]

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