Every day, it’s the same sort of torture. As I wait impatiently for my bus, I stare intently through the windows of the fancy, clean-looking restaurant that is called Chefs Gallery. With its massive clear windows, it allows one to (creepily) watch the chefs master their art – there’s something magical about the way they effortlessly whip up one dish after another. While I agree it’s a great idea to show the public how the chefs assemble their masterpieces as it shows confidence in the restaurants’ hygiene and quality, it’s unfair when all I can do is watch as my stomach starts to complain.
So when opportunity struck, I immediately suggested to go to Chefs Gallery for dinner right before a group of us went to see Wicked (which was freaking amazing, by the way). Nothing makes me, a food blogger, happier when I have a lot of people eating with me because it means I can try more dishes and take more photos. Oh, of course I enjoy their company… but like, photos, though.
Chefs Gallery resonates a more modern feel than the traditional Chinese restaurants I grew up with, so I already expected the prices to be a bit higher than I am used to. On the plus side, I knew I didn’t have to worry about flooding my stomach with oil (not that I ever had a problem with it, to be honest…)!
Even though this order was actually a miscommunication (I only wanted one of these, but they gave me the whole platter…), I am in love with Chinese cold dishes so I really had no qualms about this mistake except maybe the cucumber salad because my Dad’s ones easily defeats it. Now, I probably wouldn’t say these four cold dishes impressed me too much because they weren’t as flavoursome as the ones at New Shanghai, but they still hit the spot.
Let me confess something – I don’t like pork floss. Or any sort of floss, for that matter. So I did steer away from these since we were one too short to share anyway. However, my friends did enjoy it and mentioned that the bun was nice and fluffy.
I steered away for this one, too – but not because I don’t like soft shell crab! Just because I’m a bit allergic to it, though I would have loved to try it since everyone made sure the plate was completely empty before it got taken away by the waiter. If you love crispy food with lots of flavour and seasoning – you’re guaranteed to enjoy this thoroughly.
Whoever thought of using lettuce as a sort of ‘wrap’ is a genius – I commend and respect you. A perfect mixture of hot and cold, crispy and soft and a burst of awesome, savoury flavour.
This was new to me – I’ve never really had any Chinese-styled roti roll in the past and I am have so many deep regrets. It was like the Peking Duck wraps in a big spring roll, except the pastry is light, fluffy but crispy at the same time.
Can you believe such perfect shaped noodles are hand made?! These chefs are seriously artists. The texture of hand-made noodles definitely have a more refined and chewy texture which made this dish one of the winners of the night. These noodles were probably a favourite for the most of us on the table – duck and noodles in a wok = one great combination.
I also noticed that the past three dishes were duck-variations and all had very similar flavours to it – rich salty flavour with a tinge of sweetness to it, all fired up in a wok. Hooray for Chinese stir-fry!
Side note: the food came all at once and pretty quickly too! That’s one thing I always notice with Asian restaurants – their serving speeds are generally unmatched.
In this platter, there’s two each of the following dumplings: steamed vegetable dumpling, jumbo prawn dumpling, shui mai, fish and celery dumpling – all of these you should be familiar with if you went to yum cha every weekend like me. Okay seriously though, 6 variants of steamed dumplings for $21.90 means they’re roughly $3.65 each WHICH I MEAN, IS PRETTY RIDICULOUS… – these better be some amazing steamed dumplings (the stingy Asian in me emerges). Now, I’ve never really had an ‘amazing’ steamed dumpling, to be honest – if made properly, they shouldn’t go wrong. I probably wouldn’t recommend this platter when there’s many other great dishes on the menu; it wasn’t bad but by no means was it great, either.
The less well-known, Chinese version of the loved blackbean noodle: usually served with all the toppings and sauce on top so you can mix to your liking and embrace the saucy, meaty goodness. While the Korean blackbean noodle leans more on the sweet side, the Chinese one is definitely more salty. With the right amount of sauce and toppings, and perfect hand-made thin noodles, I give this dish a thumbs up.
Again, I am not used to spending so much for dumplings, but these impressed me a bit more than the steamed dumpling tasting platter. No complaints with this one, it was lightly crispy on the outside and hot and juicy on the inside.
AAAAND here comes the dish I was most excited for, just because. I mean, come on, piggy buns and totoro marshmallows!!! They don’t taste nearly as good as they looked though. If I had to be honest, it’s just a novelty dish for everyone at the table to stare at in awe because it’s so damn cute. But $21.90 for two buns and two marshmallows? Ehhhhh… doesn’t really sit right with me.
The sesame in the piggy buns was too overpowering and strong and the bun wasn’t as soft and fluffy as I would have liked. I never liked marshmallows, but I guess the totoro marshmallows were infused with coconut to make it stand out a little from normal marshmallows. But then again, I don’t really like coconut that much either… Uhhhhhh the ice cream was nice, though?
Also, if you want this as dessert, make sure to tell the waiter to serve it after your mains because we had this in the middle of our table and the gelato was half melted before we even got to it.
CONCLUSION: There wasn’t one thing that was bland – everything was cooked well, without a fault and bursting with flavour! Chefs Gallery succeeds in delivering the best of Chinese cuisine in taste and appearance. The only disappointment would the famous piggy buns and totoro marshmallows – definitely great for the camera, but no so much for your palate and your wallet. Food was served quickly and great to share so everyone can have a taste of each dish! However, it probably isn’t the most affordable restaurant when you compare to other restaurants that serve similar dishes, but it does stand out as it gives a more modern and clean feel. Overall, Chefs gave off a professional and comfortable atmosphere and I would definitely come back to try the rest of the diverse menu provided.
Recommended dish(es): any hand-made noodle dish, crispy soft shell crab.
Address: 273 George Street Shop G24, Sydney NSW 2000