From the window outside of Chief David’s new Kew Outpost, all you can see is a stark gray foyer with glowing neon typography and a pile of stones lit up in metal cages. It almost looks like an art gallery.
But break through a curtain made of chains and you’ll be escorted through a secret door into a bustling hallway with a sushi train and bar on one side and a flashing LED video wall on the other. It’s not what you would expect from a traditional hotpot joint. But then again, Premier Chef David’s layout wasn’t either, which eschewed the traditional reds and golds of David’s Hotpot for a flashy, futuristic look.
“The city [spot] is younger and more about music and beer. Here, it’s more about wine, cocktails, premium meats and seafood, ”says owner Liam Zhou. Broadsheet.
Sichuan hotpot is once again headlining brand new chef David. But the emphasis is also on fresh seafood and sashimi, as well as sushi and other dishes from the Chinese province. “This is a modern Sichuan restaurant, but also gives you the chance to taste Asian flavors from Sichuan and everywhere – Thailand, Japan, Vietnam,” Zhou explains.
Sixty seats are split between the conveyor belt, private reception rooms, and group tables, where you can get larger and shared pots. But for now, most of the customers are dining in front of the train. Until the a la carte service arrives on May 18, you must opt for the set menu offer at $ 90 per head.
The meal is made up of two parts. First, you are served a tasting menu with your choice of five courses. Options include lobster sashimi; burnt M9 Wagyu with a touch of homemade black truffle paste; Tasmanian uni (sea urchin roe) on a fried nori sheet; and lobster bisque with shrimp and squid.
Then the plates are cleaned and a solo pot comes out with your choice of broth. There’s the signature spicy broth from Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu; Hong Kong-style seafood; sour tomato and oxtail; chicken and fish mouths (dried swim bladder); a rich tonkotsu broth, similar to a ramen; and a coconut laksa, among others.
Grab all (or all) of the 35 ingredients that run on the conveyor belt and hit town – it’s an all-you-can-eat affair. Specialties include tender Wagyu strips, abalone and scallops (both in their shells), black truffle shrimp dumplings, fresh tofu, bunches of mushrooms and more. Cooking times are listed so you know exactly when they’re ready to fish.
There are also ready-to-eat meals on the train. Choose from small plates of sushi and sashimi, sweet and sour pork chops, seared scallops in garlic butter, peking duck, spicy cold noodles and fresh oysters topped with eggs.
As part of the package, your first glass of cab sav is at home, followed by bottomless soft drinks. There’s also a predominantly Australian wine list, cocktails symbolizing the elements (including a refreshing blend of Chinese Moutai liqueur, sweet rum, pineapple juice, and Sichuan pepper), sake by the glass or by the bottle, asahi on tap and local canned beers.
As the a la carte dinner arrives, expect a tighter selection of dishes from the tasting menu as well as hot ingredients from the train brought straight to your table.
Chief David Kew
Store 1 140 Cotham Road, Kew
(03) 8548 7881
Tue to Sat 5.30 p.m. – 10.30 p.m.