At General Chao, expect a flair for the dramatic. Like a two-kilogram tomahawk steak delivered on a large bamboo tray. It’s carved at the table and finished with Australian seaweed butter. And salted-coconut and roasted-rice pudding with Thai green-curry ice-cream served on a bed of fragrant herbs and liquid nitrogen. The humble pork bun is enormous; it’s cut in quarters and served with shining silver tongs. The food here is based on the street food of pan-Asian countries – from Thailand to Japan – but prepared with Western techniques and presented with a flourish.
The space is an oblong at the back of Chatswood Interchange’s upmarket food court, Dining District. Everything is made from scratch: the 24-hour master-stock braised pork belly; the Sriracha and Kewpie-esque mayonnaise that goes with the spicy, crisp fried chicken; and all six of the XO sauces.
If the menu is decadent, the addition of XO sauces ups the ante. On one end of the spectrum there’s the classic XO made from dried shrimp, ginger, garlic and ham. At the other end is the outrageous “New Style Super Premium XO” made from black truffles, Tasmanian abalone, premium dried scallop and shrimp, jamón and gold leaf.
You can also have a less decadent experience here. A pork bun followed by salt and pepper eggplant, a saucy, spicy kung pao chicken, and fried banana with ginger ice-cream is an utterly satisfying meal. So is the Singaporean chilli crab.
PS40 has designed the mocktails. The refreshing Shrub and Garden combines PS40’s lemon myrtle and lemongrass bush tonic with pea, spearmint, rosemary and thyme. The cocktail list includes the Jean Claude Pandan, a rummy clarified-milk punch finished with pandan, coconut and pineapple.