Bianca: Continuing on our Queensland holiday adventure recap, we were keen to check out the Asian dining scene in our Northern neighbours state. So we perused the trusty 2016 Gourmet Traveller guide and quickly settled on TEN Japanese. Suffice to say that was the best decision we made during our little weekend away.
After flitting around Surfers Paradise during the day, a strenuous tanning session for Alex and a heavy gym session for myself, we made our way over to Ten for a 7:30pm booking. We were greeted by two large heavy steel doors and there was a moment of sheer bewilderment. How do we get in? Never fear, a step forward and the doors slid open, revealing bit by bit, the cavernous interior. And who do I spy in the private dining room? Clive Palmer mate!
We were ushered over to what I can only describe as a thunder dome teppankyaki style grill. Sixteen large heavy backed chairs lining a circular grill, with the chefs having centre stage in the middle of the open kitchen. It wouldn’t exactly be wrong to call them performers in a sense, expertly slicing, grilling, tossing food under the ever so watchful eyes of 16 eager hungry diners. The restaurant was very sleek, with stainless steel and silver being a prominent feature.
Choosing which menu to go with was a hard one but tightening the purse strings somewhat we opted for the 5+ degustation menu at $150 p.p. We began our adventure with a glass of the 80 Block Dutscke merlot $13 which quickly set the tone for our meal.
We were then brought out a selection of amuse bouche, consisting of a spring roll, a crispy deep-fried spinach bite, fish sausage and a wafer thin sushi rice cracker. You will have to bear with me regarding some of the items of food/descriptions, as there was a slight language barrier. I loved the fact the chefs served you themselves and explained each dish. But it then led to several ‘pardons’ and ‘sorry, say that again’. Quite frankly there was only so many times I could say that without feeling a little rude.
Our first course was the Hokkaido Octopus – w/organic eggs, red ginger tuille and bonito flakes. Alex was slightly concerned by the dancing bonito flakes on the top of the dish, whispering to me “Are they still alive” precious child! Textures and varying temperatures within each dish truly made each bite a joy. The ginger flake and blue seaweed flake dried and wafer thin added bite. The small bites of octopus were tender, the omelette was unctuous and soft and the broth rich. All the elements together, especially with the bonito flakes created a gelatinous consistency, a delicious one at that. We were also surprised by what we thought were little bites of crispy pork skin.
A beautifully presented selection of Sashimi was then placed before us, with the standouts being the salmon and the Bluefin tuna. Wasabi has also become one of my favourite things to experiment with, probably a hobby that should be undertaken in the privacy of my own home. “Breath through the nose” I repeat over and over!
Three individual plates of Sushi were then placed before us, with the Snapper and the Blue fin being the favourites.
The Wild Blue Fin Tuna – w/ Tuna cheek and anchovy butter sauce was a curious dish. With an almost western slant with the garlic and pumpkin puree dollops. The tuna was presented here in several ways, deep-fried tuna ‘nuggets’ and freshly sliced tuna. Alongside the tuna was a crushed squid mixed with anchovy butter, Alex tried this first and his immediate reaction told me everything I needed to know. Safe to say I skipped that one. The finishing touch of shaved yuzu really lightened the whole dish up.
Having watched the chefs prepare the next dish throughout our meal we were eagerly waiting for it to make an appearance in our degustation. The Flinders Island Lamb Rack –w/saikyo white miso, rice crumbled sweet tomato. The lamb had been marinated in miso and red wine and was incredibly soft and tender with a light breaded crumb, I could almost cut it seamlessly with a fork. Alongside the lamb there was an accompanying balsamic vinegar with cherry tomatoes which added some acidity.
I’ve had Palate cleansers between the last savoury and dessert but never before the ‘main’ savoury. A small cup with mint granita was brought to the table but a simple bite was more than enough, I’m not a fan of mint anything. It was refreshing which I guess is the main function.
Our last savoury was the Tajima 7+ Wagyu Sirloin – w/braised organic egg yolk, organic tofu and Dutch carrots. I’ll quote Alex here “OH MY GOD, that’s amazing”. And that was about the food not about admiring his own reflection in a mirror. We opted to get the Truffles for $7 per 2g. And it was well worth the extra $$. When mixed all together it was a verifiable flavour explosion. The egg yolk was frozen and had a thick viscosity, when prodded it created a heavy consistency and mixed with the mushrooms and the thinly sliced wagyu it was a revelation. Having been lightly torched before our eyes, the wagyu literally melted in the mouth. The truffle perfumed the whole dish and it was probably the best thing I ate during our QLD trip. I only wished I had a spoon to lap up every morsel of sauce.
With dessert approaching and the thunder dome quieting down, we were asked to proceed to the next room where dessert was going to be served. We happily took this excuse to stretch the legs and made our way over the adjacent room. A dimly lit space with 6-7 tables with dark red hues and leather sits. Definitely a more romantic setting and perhaps not one you’d want to be sharing with your sibling. At least Alex had a view… of me naturally.
I also took the opportunity to explore the bathrooms, a new-found hobby of mine. They have those fancy Japanese remote toilets. I took so long-playing with all the buttons I almost missed dessert completely.
Thankfully I didn’t, as the White Sesame Tiramisu – w/mascarpone, coffee, Kahlua and cocoa powder was the perfect way to end this incredibly innovative dining experience. With varying textures and temperatures. The black sesame ice-cream added an interesting bitterness that balanced well with the sweetness of the tiramisu and the coffee. We both enjoyed the biscuit crumble. All I was thinking about was the absolute look of horror I would have received if it had been placed in front of my Nonno.
I honestly cannot rave about my experience at Ten Japanese enough!
Photos by Alex