The decision by The Urban Tea Merchant (TUTM) to extend their very popular Sakura Tea Set until the end of May is the best thing to happen to you today whether you know it or not!
Chef Cliff Hohl has an innate flair for Japanese fusion and the "tea gastronomy" dishes in the Sakura Tea Set hit the mark. The term, Tea gastronomy, which I believe they coined themselves, is the practice of using tea, in some way, in all of their dishes. Chef Hohl was gracious enough to take the time to lay out our platter personally and explain each different morsel in mouth watering detail.
Three different teas accompanied out meal and started with a 2016 Darjeeling Nouveau which had been picked from the Darjeeling region of India only 3 weeks earlier. The Darjeeling is the champagne of teas and it doesn't take more than a sip to know why! We then partook in their very popular Bain de Roses tea, which literally translated means Rose Bath, but was much more subtle, followed by my personal favourite, the limited edition, Sakura! Sakura! Tea. TWG Tea is the only tea the TUTM serves and it is world renowned for a reason. There may or may not be some exciting news about the TWG and TUTM partnership coming up, but it isn't my news to break :)
We were advised to start with the Wagyu Beef, which was perched just centimetres above a piping hot bowl of soup that was to be its final destination, as it was to be cooked in the Japanese Shabu Shabu hotspot style. Do some quick research on Wagyu Beef and you will see why it was such a tender piece of meat and very flavourful.
We then moved on to the Seared Scallops in Wild Boar Jam. The scallops were soaked in Sakura! Sakura! Tea and the earthy, floral flavour shined through and was a wonderful compliment to the Wild Boar Jam. The Kumamoto Oyster was next and it was delightful with a sweet Passionfruit Tea Jelly.
The main course is a Miso Maple Sablefish. Being well travelled foodies and prolific food / lifestyle bloggers, my partner and I tried to think of the amount of times in the past few months we'd had Miso Sablefish; it was 4! Our fifth Sablefish was our favourite, by far, hands down! Chef Hohl's Sablefish secrets, I'm told, will die with him, but the fish was cooked to perfection and its light, buttery flavour was absolutely stunning and we will be back time and time again for it alone and we haven't even gotten to the desserts yet!
The dessert included a Bain de Roses Macaron, a tea-infused Ricotta Cheesecake, a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry and a lovely array of Fresh Fruit. All were heavenly with the Ricotta Cheesecake being my favourite, but only by a nose.
In all this tea set from The Urban Tea Merchant left us feeling full and satisfied, the service was exceptional, a perfect 10, and the atmosphere is lovely; it is a must do!
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan