Sunday, 3 February 2013

Tank - Japanese Australian Fusion

Brisbane has some very well known restaurant precincts, but also some lesser known spaces where some real gems are located.  North Quay is one of those areas with a couple of gems!  I have recently posted about Public but thought it would be time to get back to the original North Quay gem, Tank.  Tank is located in a cool lane-way in between 400 George Street and Santos Place.  It's an extremely popular drinking spot for the suits up that end of town and has been one of my favourite restaurants ever since it opened.

When you first approach Tank, it appears as if out of nowhere.  It's a pretty isolated part of Brisbane at night but you can easily find it by the crowd milling around out the front and the raucous noise of after work drinkers.  It almost looks organic in it's design with architects Donovan Hill, who also designed Santos Place, using locally sourced and environmentally sustainable materials such as Orazia Gold marble and Spotted Gum timber.  It is a very pretty restaurant!

Tank hit the Brisbane dining scene just over two years ago and quickly became a favourite for many Brisbanites.  Accolades soon followed with Tank securing a coveted Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Chefs Hat, as well as a Gourmet Travellers One Star, one of a handful of restaurants in Queensland to do so.

It had been about six months since my last visit to Tank and a fair bit has occurred during my absence.  There has been a change of ownership and a departure of celebrity and Executive Chef Alastair McLeod.  The philosophy of Tank has remained the same with new Head Chef Tony Tierny continuing on with the Japanese fusion style of cooking and only using local fresh, quality produce.  I was a big fan of Alastair McLeod so I was curious to see if the Tank experience would be the same, only time would tell.

When SC and I walked up to Tank, there was the usual and expected crowd milling around out the front, drinking and having a great time.  When we went inside, it was a little more subdued with one other table taken.  We were warmly greeted at the front of house and as we walked past the open kitchen to be seated received a warm hello from the Chef too!

Looking through the menu there seemed to be many of the classics that dominated Alastair McLeod's Japanese inspired menu, but there were plenty of new and exciting looking options as well.  SC and I started the evening off sharing a bowl of edamame, which came out hot and salted perfectly.  Some of the edamame were really difficult to open, so we ended up missing out on a few of the very addictive starter.

There were only a couple of entrees that caught my attention but I quickly narrowed down the selection to the tempura Moreton Bay bug, oyster custard, yuzu jelly and enoki.  As usual when eating at Tank, the waiters explain carefully what you have on the plate (this is mainly because there are often unidentifiable food substances included!).  My entree looked lovely with some foam adorning the plate that looked impossibly light.  There were some elements that I really liked on the plate, but there were some things that I just didn't get.  The tempura Moreton Bay bug was cooked to perfection with a light batter covering sweet and delicate flesh, but there was just not enough of it on the plate and as a consequence the balance of flavours were thrown out.  There was a lot of seaweed on the plate that lacked flavour and the yuzu jelly needed more of the bug to sustain the intense flavour of citrus.  There was one lonely oyster included on the plate that was stunning, but with only one small oyster, the flavours were quickly forgotten.  An interesting dish that was perhaps trying to be too interesting?

SC fared much better with her entree of roasted scallops, chicken ‘croutons’, sweetcorn miso and a raisin vinaigrette.  While the scallops were quite small, they were expertly cooked with a beautiful caramelisation and sat in an intense sweetcorn miso puree.  Scallops and sweetcorn are a classic combination and the addition of the miso was inspired.  One of the scallops was covered in the raisin vinaigrette and added a complexity to the delicate flavour of the scallop.  This was a very well balanced entree with only one failing, it was quite a small serving and SC would have loved another scallop on the plate.

The main menu provided an incredibly diverse and interesting range of options, some of which were a little too wild for my palate, so I opted for the grilled atlantic salmon, spanner crab with macadamia milk.   The plate came with the macadamia milk in a separate container and was poured over the spanner crab at the table.  I love a little bit of theatrics!  Also with the dish were some tempura asparagus ears.  This was a nice dish with subtle flavours, but there was nothing on the plate that excited my tastebuds, in fact the tempura asparagus was my favourite element.  The spanner crab was sweet and the combination of the macadamia nut milk worked really well with it and there were some nuts to add some texture to the dish.  The salmon was a bit ho-hum and lacked seasoning, the skin was crisp and salty, but the plate overall needed more salt.

It was great to see that one of the classic Tank menu items remained.  Both SC and I have had the free range pork ramen, slow cooked egg with peas on numerous occasions and it is one of the best dishes in any restaurant in Brisbane.  On many levels the ramen was as good as its ever been, but on one crucial level it was a bit of a let down.  The pork, usually the star of the dish was over cooked.  The pork in the ramen is slow cooked over a four hour period and then added to the ramen, but on this occasion is was way over cooked.  So over cooked that one of the pork pieces had a crust!  What you want to see with the ramen dish is soft tender pork that melts in your mouth, and it was missing.  Apart from that, the dish was delicious.

For dessert I felt like chocolate.  I have never been a big chocolate eater, but with a heap of chocolate fondants under the belt recently I am developing a bit of a taste for it.  The soft chocolate, sake ice cream with salted caramel sounded perfect, so my choice was easy.  There were some additions to the bowl when it was delivered with included some ginger biscuit and fresh raspberries.  I ended up giving SC most of my ginger biscuits as I'm not a huge fan.  I really liked the sake ice cream, which had a subtle sake flavour and I really liked the chocolate which was rich and decedent but I did not like them together.  The chocolate was so rich that you lost any flavour from the sake ice cream, which was a real shame. 

Another of the classic menu items that has survived the change of chef is the cup of ‘green tea’, which is a custard base and a green tea ice cream.  The custard is rich and creamy and the green tea ice cream lovely with the typical green tea flavour without any bitterness that you can get with green tea.  The brioche cubes provide additional sweetness and some much needed texture to the dessert. SC and I  have had variations of this dessert many times and loved this one just as much.

Our first visit back to Tank since new Head Chef Tony Tierny was a bit of a mixed bag.  The menu was not significantly different from the Alastair McLeod version, it held some of the same classics that we had come to know and love.  There were some differences but when a chef takes over a restaurant, he needs to stamp his own philosophy on the menu.  This is a fine balance, do you keep it exactly the same and keep your existing clientele happy, or do you take some risks and change it up.  I, not sure Tank has got the balance right at the moment.

One of the things that stood out most to me by the time we left was the state of the restaurant.  In previous visits on Friday and Saturday nights the restaurant has been packed.  When we left there was only three other tables taken.  The crowd that I had expected to move inside from the outside bar area never materialised.  Tank is a fantastic restaurant that does things a little differently to most others in Brisbane.  I really hope that our mixed experience on the night was not the new normal and just the settling in of a new chef and a new menu.  The Brisbane dining scene needs restaurants like Tank to survive and thrive.....


Edamame was salty addictive goodness
The kitchen and chefs wearing big grins
The back of the kitchen area is visible to the street, you can watch the staff in action

There is even some laneway dining out the front- which is abuzz on a Friday night

Tank Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon Tank  Restaurant and Bar Tank  Restaurant and Bar


  1. Hey Anthony, have just hopped over from G+. I just love the idea of fusion food but then I think so much of what we think as original/traditional was at some point in the past considered fusion! Everything looks good, your photography marvellous and I might actually eat edamame if I found myself there! I can't however hard I try, bring myself to like foam sauce (or sauce foam?), just looks like soap every time! x

  2. Ha ha, yeah the foam was pretty weird, like bath foam it pretty much evaporated upon touching it. Agree that much of the fine dining food about now days is pretty much all fusion, French Australian etc. You can get edamame at most Japanese restaurants, it becomes very more(ish), so watch out!!


Thanks very much for your comment, I really love and appreciate feedback and your thoughts


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...