One Tea Lounge – Sydney CBD

{invite} Bianca: I’d had One Tea Lounge on my radar for some time but timing never seemed to have worked out for us. Until a few weeks back when we made two visits in one week. We were quite strategic in our planning. A visit at night-time to check out their extensive green tea infused dinner menu. And what I was personally looking forward to the most, a lunch visit to try the burgers!

Owner David Yip is an enthusiastic and friendly fellow and it was really quite obvious from talking to him, the love that he has for the restaurant and the food served. If you’re expecting a quick run of the mill Japanese meal, you’re really at the wrong place. The food is theatrical but with the flavour chops to back it up. It’s not just smoke and mirrors…..though there was literal smoke, in the form of dry ice.

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One Tea Lounge is an instagrammers virtual wet dream, with spinning contraptions to serve cocktails, dry ice and smoke to enhance an eating and drinking experience and food combinations that you perhaps wouldn’t think would naturally go so well together.

We began our meal with a few snacks. The Edamame w/ sambal miso $7 was the perfect snack to mindlessly nibble on while we chatted away. There was a kick but it was subtle, though I think Vanessa would probably give you a different answer. There is one thing you need to order whether you’re going for lunch or dinner and that’s the Peking Duck Fries $13. Incredibly moreish, try stopping yourself at a few chips, I guarantee you can’t do it. Tender duck with a sweet hoisin sauce. A perfectly decadent accompaniment to the burgers or a main.

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We then descended into what can only be described as my ultimate fantasy in life. A tray full of baby burgers! 3 Designer Sliders for $22. These are pretty tailorable – so you can choose your bun and your filling. We tried the Ramen burger, Rice burger and Matcha Baoger with wagyu beef, braised pork rib and teriyaki chicken. In various forms. We were all quite surprised by how much we enjoyed the Ramen burger. It’s surprisingly very very tasty. The noodles hold up well and stayed intact till the last bite. They were however, a touch on the oily side, having been shallow fried in oil to give a crispy exterior. The Matcha Baoger was an interesting one, a soft fluffy bun. With crispy teriyaki chicken. And the Rice Burger with braised pork rib was also a very good offering. I particularly enjoyed the texture of the rice bun as I was expecting a grainy bun but the rice was cooked down so that it formed an ‘arancini’ like consistency! All the main proteins were very well executed and you really can’t make a wrong choice here. Plus 3 buns and 4 filling choices, variety is the spice of life.

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Like most people we enjoy anything theatrical, add some disco lights and some dry ice and we’re automatically 10 years old again. The next dish instantly had us looking over our shoulders for incoming police officers. As the strong potent smell of certain ‘illegal herbal contraband’ wafted through the back half of the restaurant. But there was nothing untoward happening, it was simply the strong aromatics of the Gyokuro Smoked Octopus Avocado $17 the flavour was interesting, with an intense tea smoked herbal(y)ness. But it was the texture that didn’t sit so well with us as it was a little on the rubbery side.

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And for those really wanting a show and a tipple. Make sure you get the One Tea Experience $39 with the Matcha Wheel $18. The one tea experience is a gin based cocktail that is on the lighter side and could easily serve 3-4 people to last an entire meal.

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Delving in to an all-out protein onslaught we tried both wagyu options on the menu. The first being the Lava Stone Grill w/ 9+ Wagyu Beef 180g. Served with shimeji and enoki mushrooms as well as 3 dipping sauces $50. Cooked table side, the bite sized pieces of wagyu were incredibly tender. My initial reaction was that the meat needed salt but as you made your way through the dipping accompaniments the meat became perfectly seasoned. With our favourite being the matcha sea salt. Genius!

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The Flaming Wagyu Volcano w/9+ wagyu beef 180g w/ a wasabi teriyaki sauce $52. The gets points for theatricality, as the entire sizzle plate is set alight. Very similar to the lava stone grill but we found we gravitated towards this one more as we loved the sweetness of the teriyaki sauce.

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I’ve gone off duck this last year or so and I’m quite selective when and where I order it. But David insisted we try the Matcha Yuzu Duck –w/ matcha yuzu, grilled robata asparagus, cauliflower & matcha caramel peach $36. Cooked beautifully and remaining succulent and juicy but it was missing that crispy skin that makes a great duck dish. I really enjoyed the caramel peach but I’d definitely go the beef if I was recommending dishes.

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The last of the savoury was the Juicy AF Monster Fried Chicken – juicy crispy buttermilk fried chicken (3pc) w/chilli mayo & peking duck fries $29. We were in a fully-fledged food coma state by this point. I claimed the juicy thigh piece. The main point of difference is in the way the chicken has been cooked, having been sous vide. The chicken was moist with a crispy herbed coating and we could hardly say no to an extra serving of the peking duck fries.

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And then things just descended into a crazy downward dessert spiral, we’ll call it matcha madness! First up was the Matcha Lava Bomb – a matcha white chocolate lava cake with orange liqueur, fruit, miso caramel & waffle flakes $21.  So most people know I’m not a huge fan of matcha and this is basically an entire restaurant dedicated to the dried green tea powder. And the desserts are basically a love letter to matcha. Make sure you have the cameras at the ready as it’s quite the sight when it’s set alight. This was our favourite of the desserts!

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The Ice-cream Baogers 3 for $21 were always going to pique my interest because they resemble a burger #wheninrome. We opted for the Black sesame, lychee and white chocolate ferrero rocher. I was most intrigued by the textural/flavour change once the matcha buns were fried. The texture becoming similar to that of a doughnut.

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With a defibrillator on standby we were brought our final morsels of food for the night. The One Tea Cookie Shot (3 for $20) – Matcha, choc brownie and red velvet cookies with a Nutella Latte. First and foremost you order this for the Instagram shot. Secondly I couldn’t stop drinking the Nutella latte, very chocolate(y). The cookie really does play second fiddle with none of the flavours particularly standing out._mg_7414

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We bid our farewells to David set to return a few days later for lunch.

Voila, costume change and here we are three days later and ready for burgers! Starting with the Matcha Fries –w/ green tea sea salt and shichimi mayo $8. It’s imperative that you order these…imperative! They tasted exactly like KFC chicken, which… odd right for potatoes. But close your eyes and you could easily fool yourself into thinking you were hoeing into a piece of fried chicken! And the mayo tasted exactly like old school curry sauce from Maccas!!!

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Another must order is the Popcorn Curry Chicken w/green tea lime mayo $11. Little chicken morsels that are akin to McDonalds nuggets with a light curry powder dusting.

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And now what I was most looking forward to. The burgs! Alex has an affinity with fried chicken so he went with the Juicy AF Fried Chicken burger – w/tomato, lettuce, chilli mayo & garlic aioli $13. The potato buns were the perfect vessel for all the burgers and probably coming a close second to my favourite milk buns. They all held up well. The chicken was again sous vide and then battered and deep-fried. The chicken thigh was juicy and moist with a super crispy coating. It wasn’t an overly wet burger despite the abundance of sauce. Chicken burgs aren’t usually my jams but this was a good-un, a 4.3/5 pickles.

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And here’s where things took a bit of a nosedive. With Ness and I both opting for the Classic Burger –w/ a beef patty, American cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, gherkins, house tomato jam, garlic aioli & mustard $11. I then amped the crazy by adding an extra slice of cheese $2, shichimi maple bacon $2 and a hashbrown $2 because YOLO. The flavour was great but I couldn’t help but think I was tasting BBQ sauce within the burger. The bacon was particularly crispy and the hash brown and extra cheese gets a big tick from me. But there’s an elephant in the room. I was impressed with the flavour profile of my first bite but once the interior of the patty had been exposed it was plain to see that both mine and Vanessa’s were under-cooked. And when I say under-cooked, I unfortunately mean raw. We both had to remove the patties as it just wasn’t feasible to continue eating. Bit of a shame really and David was incredibly apologetic once he was informed. I really can’t give this one a pickle score because I couldn’t determine how the beef sat within the flavour spectrum.

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And finally, finishing with sweeties. The Matcha Fondue – Matcha white chocolate w/ matcha cookies, matcha castella cake, matcha marshmallows and fruit $25.  So you really kinda have to love matcha to order this. I didn’t mind the flavour of the matcha dipping chocolate but it was a bold matcha flavour with the white chocolate playing secondly fiddle. Alex and I loved the cookies, they were a definite standout.

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The Matcha Rain Drop cake –w/ matcha molecular beads, fresh fruit and crumble $11. Similar to that of a very thin jelly with no real discernible flavour, the crumb was ace!

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It was very unfortunate that I didn’t get to experience the true One Tea burger experience as I’ve heard great things from many people and I don’t feel I had an adequate representation as to what the quality is really like. But having made our way through more than half of the menu we can safely say the food is top quality, it’s on the expensive side but it’s not exactly an everyday restaurant. Suited more for special occasions. The presentation is whimsical so if you like a big of theatrics with your food I think this might be the place for you.

Bianca

Photos by Alex

*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of David, One Tea Lounge and Ompty. However all opinions are our own and independent.

One Tea Lounge and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Author: forfoodssake

A Sydney food blog.

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