In Kaisern Ching’s most avant-garde menu update yet, Chefs Gallery continues re-imagining what modern Chinese looks like where it intersects with Australian produce.
Seafood Caramel Glazed Fried Baby Calamari and Chinese Fried Fritter ($15.90) topped with fresh strawberries, apple slices and crushed peanuts, is certainly one of the oddest dishes I’ve tried, fusing together the Chinese love for dried seafood with a palm sugar sweet sauce (gula melaka) that makes it more approachable to the Western palate. With a TsingTao ($6.90) in your hand, you’ll find it a surprisingly compelling drinking snack, traversing the palate with saltiness, sweetness and umami.
You’ll find the four and fifth tastes – sourness and bitterness – in the new Roast Duck and Citrus Salad ($15.90) where juicy pink grapefruit joins cold roast duck, fresh salad greens, cherry tomatoes, enoki mushrooms, and almonds. The salad is bound together with roast duck sauce, and the perfect dish for the long, hot Australian summer.
Traversing similar territory, Chefs Gallery’s Surf and Turf ($30.90) makes a salad out of lightly fried, salted fish pieces and pork belly cooked in sticky-sweet, Indonesian soy sauce, mandarin peel and cinnamon. It’s dressed in the same roast duck sauce, and while left-of-centre in conception, it's another intriguing eat.
With all of the Chefs Gallery restaurants operating under the same beautifully photographed menu, it doesn’t really matter where you dine. I took my meal in Bankstown and when I ordered a menu stalwart - Wok-Fried Green Beans with Minced Pork ($18.90) – the flavours were identical to my usual CBD store, though the beans were less blistered.
The Bankstown setting in the new Little Saigon Plaza is spacious, with long banquettes and murals lining either side of the space.
With windows into the kitchen, you can still get an eyeful of their talent chefs hand-making dumplings like my favourite Prawn and Pork Wontons ($11.90/5) doused in spicy Shanghainese sauce.
You'll also find them hand-stretching their signature fresh noodles, which you can now enjoy as Wok Fried with Slightly Salted Pork Belly and Crispy Pork Crackling ($19.90) in another new-to-menu dish. They’re dotted with fried egg, thin strips of wood ear mushroom, julienned carrots and garlic chives, making for a well-balanced meal in a single dish.
Serves here are reasonably substantial - especially if you're dining in a pair - so consider smaller add-ons like their cheese and mushroom-stuffed Chinese Roti ($13.90) over multiple mains.
While it might be a cliché, it’s also worth leaving some room for dessert, as Chefs Gallery are notorious for coming up with cute ones. Their new menu is no exception, offering up a mushroom-like jar of Sesame Panna Cotta ($13.90) dotted with kaffir-lime dusted meringue and a heaping of azuki beans, capped with a sesame tuile. It was better than our plate of Nutella-filled Chinese Doughnuts ($13.90) with caramelised banana, peanuts, and lashings of chocolate sauce and sweetened condensed milk, because the fried dough sticks were a little too crisp to make eating them enjoyable.
Little Saigon Plaza
Ground Floor, Shop 203, 462 Chapel Road, Bankstown
Ph: (02) 8764 3084