Chao has the XO factor

East deliciously meets west at Chatswood’s General Chao, writes Erina Starkey

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Son Sewoo at General Chao restaurant, Chatswood. Credit Anna Kucera.

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(Left) The murals by Sid Tapia add to General Chao’s culinary appeal (above).

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Joining the ranks at District Dining in the Chatswood Interchange, new restaurant General Chao’s brings a premium XO experience to the north shore.

In a salute to modern Australian dining, the menu features traditional Chinese, Korean, Thai and Japanese street food dishes, made using western ingredients and techniques.

“We are inspired by the diversity of Asian street food and we use artisan local Australian produce to create an exciting culinary experience,” says head chef Son Sewoo who is also the general manager.

The newly refurbished dining room, which seats 187, has been given a sleek black and slate fit out, punctuated by colourful murals by street artist Sid Tapia.

“The artworks are oversized and feature beautiful contemporary geishas who keep an eye over our guests and the restaurant.”

However, even more eyecatching is the menu, which revolves around six different XO sauces, each one made from scratch.

“XO is the most premium Asian sauce, and it has the ability to elevate a simple dish to something unique and different.”

Alongside the classic XO, is a spicy XO, a dried scallop XO and a vegetarian oyster mushroom and shiitake XO. However the most jaw-dropping would have to be the “new style super premium AAA grade western XO,” which is made from Tasmanian green lip abalone, Australian black truffle, Iranian saffron, Gran Reserva Spanish jamon and gold leaf, which is priced at $20 for a 50g portion.

“We believe this may be the most decadent XO sauce in the world,” says Sewoo.

A standout dish is the steamed pipis, which sees pearlescent shells simmered with juicy cubes of lap cheong Chinese sausage and hunks of crispy fried rice noodles. Very more-ish.

Other highlights include the prawn toast served in a toast rack with a seven day fermented sriracha chilli sauce and the giant pork bun, stuffed with soft shreds of organic pork belly, simmered in master stock with chestnut and pickled mustard greens. As large as a tea cake, the pork bun is presliced into four portions, however you could easily stretch it between eight.

Like nearby Chinese restaurant and bar, Mama Mulan, General Chao also boasts an incredible drinks list, with cocktails created by one of Sydney’s best mixologist, Michael Chiem from PS40. Chiem’s list revolves around Asian-inspired spirits and syrups, including a pandan-infused rum, dashiinfused bourbon, Sichuan pink peppercorn syrup and papaya shrub.

The restaurant also has its own wine and champagne cellar which includes varietals from Australia and New Zealand’s leading wineries and regions.

The Verdict: êêê

The Price: $ $ $

What: General Chao When: Sun–Wed, 12–10pm, Thurs 12–11pm, Fri–Sat 12pm -midnight Phone: 02 9411 7977 Where: District Dining, 436 Victoria Ave, Chatswood Web: generalchao.com

XO is the most premium Asian sauce, and it has the ability to elevate a simple dish to something unique and different