It’s a beautiful summer’s day. We’ve travelled up to visit TetsuAki Japanese Cuisine, at Paradise Point overlooking a market stall lined Esplanade, the sun shimmering on the Broadwater beyond.
Looking through the floor to ceiling frameless glass shopfront into the bright, shiny and very very white restaurant, light bounces off every surface bar the floor. Sparkling clean as a huge display kitchen with two pack walls and ceiling cut by strip LED lighting, it feels like a daunting fishbowl, any subtlety lost in translation!
There’s a menu at the door, but even that brings second thoughts. This is no ‘cheap’ lunch, and there’s no outdoor dining on this brilliant autumn day. We pause.
‘Maybe not,’ I think. Many other diners have similar thoughts, grabbing sushi to go from the front counter and crossing to the park. But it’s our third attempt to visit TetsuAki, and the Main Squeeze is hungry as a horse. His firm hand in the middle of my back urges ‘Just do it already!’
So, we dive in.
The restaurant’s less daunting inside, refreshingly cool on a hot day, a huge sashimi bar traversing its length a promise of quality; so we order a drink and indulge in some people-watching.
The menu is divided into sections: Snacks, Rice Bowls, Noodle Soup, Lunch Bento and Special Rolls.
We order a 15 piece Assorted Sashimi ($38), and Sovereign Spider roll ($18) to share, with soft shell crab and vegies on the inside of the roll, flying fish roe and teriyaki sauce outside. It’s a delicious light meal, the sashimi stunningly fresh, the accompanying wasabi and white ginger both freshly made, the fusion-style sushi a pleasing mixture of textures and tastes. There’s a good range of drinks available but it’s lunchtime and we’re feeling pure.
Other diners are enjoying their lunch Bento boxes ($26 – $28) – large lacquered boxes plumped with daily sashimi, croquette and karaage served with steamed rice, miso soup and salad; another couple are tucking into huge bowls of steaming noodle soup, all smiles.
Named after the owner’s father ‘Tetsu Aki’, a famous Japanese artist whose work is featured in the restaurant, the name symbolically means ‘the pure one’, a reference to the restaurant’s emphasis on pure, healthy, balanced food.
I feel rebuked for my initial reaction to TetsuAki, almost a bit ashamed.
Nothing about TetsuAki is cheap. We can feel the accountant shuddering at the fit out, but the food quality is excellent, clean and fresh. It’s a reminder that sometimes when you pay a little extra, you get far more. It’s also a reminder of cultural difference: how ‘clean’ can feel ‘clinical’, how ‘pure’ can feel ‘pristine’.
“Come back for dinner,” our waitress Michelle urges. “It’s truly beautiful!”
Yes, we look forward to that. Perhaps it will be less intimidating as the lights are dimmed and the sake flows!
32 The Esplanade, Paradise Point Ph: 07 5577 1110 Fully licensed | BYO Wine Open 7 days: 11am – late