Ever since it opened, Chefs Gallery has had one big thing going for it - Piggy Buns! I ate at Chefs Gallery last week, so how were the buns? Read on to find out...
Chefs Gallery is located in a large modern space on the side of the Regent Place development (cnr George and Bathurst Streets, Sydney). On a bright, sunny and very warm day, the blinds at the front are already drawn against the glaring sun. We arrived fairly early for lunch, just after 12pm, and the place was already quite full (it opens at 11am). The decor is 'contemporary Chinese', with lots of dark wood and padded surfaces.
When asked if we wanted to sit at a table or the counter, I excitedly shouted, 'Counter!', because the counter fronts onto part of the kitchen, and the entertaining noodlemaker...
It's fun to watch the noodles being rolled and stretched. Lots of other cooking action as well, including Flames.
Onto the food.
The menu at Chefs Gallery isn't extensive when compared to those Chinese restaurants that have dozens (or hunderds) of dishes. Here, there are some hot and cold appetisers, their famous handmade noodles, a couple of fried rices, dumplings, steamed buns, and of course, dessert, featuring the piggy buns.
Things didn't get off to a promising start because some of the dishes we wanted had a little 'N/A' (not available) sticker on them. We worked around this and ordered alternatives, together with some 'freshly squeezed watermelon juice' because it was so hot. Wouldn't you know it, there's no watermelon juice (nor the advertised pear juice, either). We settled for cans of Coke.
Cold pork belly rolls ($8.90)
'Chao shou' prawn and pork wontons in spicy Shanghainese sauce ($8.90)
The pork rolls were pieces of blanched pork belly rolled around carrot and cucumber, refreshing on this hot day, though they could have done with a bit more sauce to liven up the taste. The dumplings were great, nice and soft, with most of the heat coming from the chilli sauce.
'Shou zhua bing' Chinese roti with pork floss($6.90)
'Guo tie' pan-fried pork and prawn dumplings ($8.90)
Fried rice with 3 types of egg ($13.90)
I'd never had Chinese roti before, and it's like a very thin shallot pancake with bits of spring onion scattered throughout the thin, flakey dough - I really liked this dish. The pan-fired dumplings were only average, with the wrapper a bit tough. The fried rice was amazingly good, filled with pieces of chopped egg (chicken, salted duck and century eggs). Not too oily, either.
Feeling quite good at this stage, I had been saving some space for a piggy bun, but it wasn't to be - they were sold out! That's another way of saying 'N/A'. You'd think they'd prepare a surplus of these since they're so popular, but apparently not.
So we settled for a serving of the less-cute but hopefully still adorable 'pumpkin pastry dumplings'. We ordered, then waited. And waited.
After waiting for 30 minutes, we asked a waitress if they were coming any time soon. It was amusing to watch (from our vantage point on the other side of the glass window) as she marched into the kitchen and confronted the hapless kitchen cook who was responsible for the buns. Maybe not a good day for him, as he looked a bit flustered, probably because the piggy buns had run out.
Anyway, now that we had a target, we observed him for another 15 minutes or so while he bludged around having a drink and looking clueless. Just as we were about to cut our losses and leave, the pumpkin buns arrived.
Pumpkin pastry dumplings ($5.90)
So, the pumpkin dumplings were ordered at 1:18pm, and they arrived just after this photo was taken, at 1:59pm. They were okay, quite small (and therefore cute), with a gluey rice flour coating around a sweet lotus seed paste filling. They were gone (into my tummy) in about 30 seconds flat.
Overall, it was a mixed experience at Chefs Gallery. The dishes that we had were reasonably tasty, with the fried rice a standout. The unavailability of some dishes was disappointing, as was the wait for the little pumpkin buns. Also, I got a raging MSG-like headache/thirst/lethargy a couple of hours later, though I don't know if MSG was added to the food. I may have to risk another visit to find out.
12/501 George Street, Sydney, NSWPh: (02) 9267 8877