Friday, February 4, 2011

Where's my buns - Chefs Gallery, Sydney

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.

Chefs Gallery
12/501 George Street, Sydney, NSW
Ph: (02) 9267 8877

Chefs Gallery on Urbanspoon


  1. A return visit for the piggy buns is a must, I say!

  2. Pity about the so-so service and unavailability of the most popular items but I know exactly what to order when I eventually make my way there, thanks!

  3. Oh no, no piggy buns! What a disappointment! The pumpkin dumplings took that long?!? They must've run out and had to make new ones.

  4. Ugh I'm sorry you had such a crazy experience! Hopefully next time around they'll have those buns so you can tell us all about them!

  5. hhhm not sure about this one to try but the pumpkin buns do look rather cute!!!

  6. I go to Chefs Gallery quite a bit with friends. I love the Piggy buns. Some of their staff are a little clueless though which can get a little annoying. Hopefully you go back again soon and have a better dining experience.

  7. it us utterly disappointing when you realise that you've arrived at restaurant when it is not at its best. fingers crossed the next visit will have everything that you want without the MSG-headache.

  8. Aww what a shame about the many NA's! And the after effects of MSG too, I find that I too feel a little light headed when there's been too much MSG in the food I've eaten. The pumpkin buns looked like a cute alternative but shame about the piggy buns!

  9. yes soometimes you need to take some risks so I wait for the next post!!!PIerre

  10. I've been wanting to check out Chef's Gallery for quite some time, and I was hoping for an opinion of the famous piggy buns, but no such luck. Hope you get them next time! I love me some fried rice too, and that looked EXCELLENT. Great post!

  11. Not sure if I had as much patience as you to wait for those buns....

  12. Tee hee, I would have screamed out "COUNTER!" too :D

    Shame about the MSG issue, I can react pretty badly with it so this is a big turnoff :(

  13. Oh dear, pity about the pumpkin saga. I do love watching all the kitchen action though - like noodle tv!

  14. Oh dear, I wouldn't have waited that long for the buns. But service was really good when I went.

    Shame about the N/A-ness too.

  15. What a shame, I've had good experiences at Chefs Gallery.. the pumpkin thing is not a good look!

    I kinda like it in the location cause it's easy to get to from the CBD