Those mid-priced masters of contemporary Chinese have taken their Hurstville store back to its roots. Badging it as Chefs Gallery Classic, they’ve turned their attention to the Sichuan and Hunan provinces in Southern China.
Located on the extreme edge of Westfield Hurstville, this below ground restaurant is easy to access without having to enter the mega mall; however that also puts them right in the thick of a very competitively priced restaurant strip. This has resulted in some very keenly priced dishes on their new menu that's designed to woo in Hurstville locals.
The changes appear to be working, with the restaurant boasting full tables on the Sunday night I dined, bar for the solo diner seats along the edge of their trademark glass box kitchen.
The new menu is presented in their usual bound and beautifully illustrated style, and well worth taking time to peruse with a Tsing Tao ($6.90) in hand.
Now obviously one should expect differences between the beautifully styled menu illustrations and what lands on your table, but I was a bit sad to miss both the chives and crushed peanuts on the Braised Sampling Platter ($20.90). This left us dipping an interesting collection of braised pig trotters, pig ears, duck wings, chicken gizzards and beef tripe straight into a ballistic red chilli powder. By lightly frying, then slowly stewing all of these secondary cuts of meat and offal in a traditional Chinese pickling broth, texture becomes central to this dish. My surprising favourite was the honeycomb-like slivers of beef tripe.
Be sure to include one of the hotpots so emblematic of Southern China. The Sichuan Style Marble Beef Hot Pot ($12.90) is presented according to your spice level. We asked for hot, and were well pleased with this vibrant bowl of fiery, aromatic, soup, thin slivers of beef and plentiful enoki mushrooms, topped with sesame seeds and coriander.
Silky Sichuan-style Steamed Eggs ($11.90) arrive in three pots, for you to assemble yourself at the table.
First we sprinkled the topping of diced beef, pickled vegetables and coriander onto the steamed eggs; then we poured on the entire container of Sichuan style chilli sauce.
We regretted nothing, because on this dish, the silky soft eggs balance the spice in perfect harmony.
Now Chefs Gallery haven’t thrown out their old menu completely. You will still find a good collection of their tried and true favourites. We threw in Wok Fried Chilli and Numbing Spicy Chicken ($15.90) for contrast; though we have to admit upon first bite, it tasted way too sweet in comparison to the other dishes. However by the time we’d truly destroyed our palates with too much chilli, the cashews, sweetness and over-emphasis on numbing, became welcome relief.
After such a fiery meal, dessert is a must-do. The new Chefs Gallery Classic menu has two new desserts that’ll both put your mouth back together. There’s a subtle, Cherry Blossom Jelly ($3.90) that’s small, soothing and gently floral; or five Glutinous Rice Balls ($3.90) with red bean centres, rolled in not quite enough peanut crumble.
At prices like these you can afford to be a devil and order both.
Chefs Gallery Classic
Shop A1 & B1
Forest Road Entrance, Hurstville
Ph: (02) 9580 4524