Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Chefs Gallery, Sydney CBD

When Laura suggested we catch up on the Friday before her birthday with Tammi and Marty she had a Mexican feast in mind and asked if I knew of anywhere we could go in the city.

I put on my thinking cap but was stumped. I couldn't think of any Mexican in the city (great or otherwise - this is pre El Loco by the way) so instead I more than happily replied with a selection of restaurants that I really wanted to go to. Hey, it may be Laura's birthday weekend, but there are A LOT of places to get through on my wishlist so I need to make the most of any opportunity to whittle away at the list.

Lucky for me Chefs Gallery was also on Laura's list so a booking was made for the four of us to celebrate Laura's birthday and strike another restaurant off my wishlist.

Now let me begin by saying that whilst I REALLY LOVED the food at Chefs Gallery the service left a little to be desired. To start with they had messed up the night for the booking and didn't have a table for us, despite calling Laura the night before to confirm. When I pleaded that it was a birthday dinner and blinked back faux tears of disappointment at the scary Maitre d' lady we were told we could have a table, but had to be out in 90 minutes. Deal!

Whilst our order was taken quickly, drinks took FOREVER to arrive at the table and the utensils we'd requested for non-chopstick wielding Laura and myself didn't arrive.  Tammi was promptly told off by the head waitress when she got up to check where our stuff was, and we later got a rap on the knuckles for ordering more dishes 35 minutes before our allotted 90 minutes were up. All of that aside the food was damn tasty but I feel like I deserve a medal that says "I survived the cranky waitresses at "Chefs Gallery" - a bit like those people in Seinfeld who would risk the wrath of the Soup Nazi time and time again just to partake in his delicious soup.

Would I go back? Absolutely!  I just hope the cranky-pants service was a once off.

So enough about that, let us move on to the highlight of the evening...the food! We decide to order a bunch of little plates and share them amongst the four of us.

We start our meal with Crab Meat Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce ($12.90).  These rolls were similar to the Crab Net Spring Rolls I had at Misschu's Tuckshop in Darlinghurst - a thin, crunchy net of pasty wrapped around minced crab. The dipping sauce, despite being an ominous firey red colour wasn't as spicy as it looked...thankfully.

Next is a serve of Prawn and Pork Wontons in a Shanghainese Style Spicy Sauce ($9.90).  Like the Crab Spring Rolls, the spicy sauce in this dish is not as fearsome as it appears, and added a nice kick of flavour to the wontons.

Lightly pan fried Prawn and Cabbage Dumplings ($9.90) are next to arrive at the table.  After the spicy "ish" sauce that accompanied our first two dishes these dumplings seemed very plain and very simple - not that that is a bad thing mind you. The dumplings are lightly pan-fried giving the skin a lovely crisp texture.

The Chefs Own Mini Pork Burger ($13.90) were lovely, but every bite had me laden with guilt - there is NO WAY I can kid myself that this babies are healthy. As the menu says these are very cute and tasty...and I'm not going to disagree. How could you not fall in love with a deep-fried Mantou Bun housing a deliciously fatty piece of pork. In fact these were SO good that we ordered an extra dish even though you can tell they are a heart-attack waiting to happen from 20 meters away.

I couldn't go past one of my all time favourite dishes Wok Fried Green Beans served with Pork Mince ($17.90). The menu says these are served with pancakes, but ours never arrived which is a pity as it's a variation on the dish that I've not encountered before. That said, the dish is as good as I could've hoped for, crispy, charred fried beans glistening with oil and dotted with pork mince. Salty and delicious!

The Seared Scallops served with Garlic and Oil Free Vinaigrette Dressing ($24.90 for 5 pieces) were perfectly cooked, but we did note that some of the scallops were nearly double the size of others.  The vinaigrette dressing was lightly and "zingy" and it was nice to have a dish that was light on the oil after the very naughty Mini Pork Burgers. 

The Steamed Prawn Dumplings ($7.90) were the most simple dish of the evening. Lovely plump prawns wrapped in a not too thin, not too thin dumpling skin.

The Seafood Pancake with a Creamy Lime Sauce ($12.90) appeared to be a fancy name for Prawn Toast with Salad Cream on top. Another deep-fried dish to have me thinking about the state of my arteries, but oh so tasty.

I'm sure the Steamed 'Piggy Face' Buns ($7.90) are what attract half the crowds to Chefs Gallery. I for one know that as soon as I saw the first picture of these I just had to come and try one for myself. Too cute, and oh so tasty with a sugary sweet black-sesame seed filling.  It seemed a shame to bite into such a pretty dumpling, but after your first taste of the filling you'll forget all about the half eaten piggy face staring forlornly up at you...I promise!

As well as the yummy food and "Piggy Face Buns" one of the other attractions of this restaurant is the theatre of being able to watch the food be prepared before your very eyes.  As the name suggests, the chefs are on display for to see - stretch noodles, pour soup, make dumplings - in a glass fronted kitchen at the side of the restaurant. Couples dining together can grab a prime spot at one of the bench seats at the window and watch the chefs hard at work. 

Chefs Gallery is at 501 George Street, Sydney - although the entrance is actually located on Bathurst Street (right next to KFC).

Chefs Gallery on Urbanspoon


  1. Heheee I knew you'd have to get the piggy buns! So cute and tasty.

    Such a shame about the awful service!! I went here for the first time the other month for my mum's birthday, and they were ok - if a bit unfriendly and slow. I can't believe they told you guys off for checking on your food. How awful!

  2. The food was good: my favorites were the spicy Shanghainese wontons and the piggy sesame buns. They were so lusciously good. Service was a little non-responsive and seemed more like that at a government run eatery where you don't ask questions, but when you're a paid customer it's not the nicest..

  3. Lovely the Little Piggy Buns - too bad about the service :-(

  4. I really like those pork buns - who didn't!! =) Love the filling in those sesame buns too, but then again I love the flavour of black sesame, so...teehee.

  5. Those crab meat spring rolls sure look delicious. I had to smile when I saw the piggy buns :)

  6. The food really looks fantastic but service means so much to me when I eat out, I may be a little sensitive.

  7. With the booking and service issues I wouldn't bother going back. Those mini burgers look dangerous!

  8. i love chef's gallery!! i've only been once but ive been dying to go again everything looks gr8!

  9. Wow - looks like some new dishes on the menu!

    I've never had particularly bad service here - must have been an off day :(

  10. Aren't the piggy buns darling? Chef's Gallery is a good choice for something quick in the city. The queues seemed to have died down too.

  11. Mmmm, those mini pork burgers look so damned evil and yet so enticing!

  12. Always love looking at the little piggies! =)

  13. Lol, guilty of being lured there because of those adorable piggy buns.

  14. I can't go past the wok fried green beans whenever I'm at a Chinese restaurant - love em!

  15. Hmm. I think I can trade off the service for the looks of that food.
    I think I need an evil pork burger. They just look. Flavoursome in the way that only an entirely orange piece of food can be.

    Love it.

  16. the Prawn and Pork Wontons in a Shanghainese Style Spicy Sauce - looks yummi, i didnt get to try that last time. I had din tin fungs, pretty beastly!

    mmhhh.. the pigs are ever sooo cute!!!!

  17. It's true. Everyone loves those piggy buns! The mini pumpkins are also cute. Must get the spring rolls next time - I love the texture of that delicate netting!

  18. The food does look good! Shame about your service experience. Maybe I should give it a try too and let you know how it goes? ;)

  19. I loved the food, noodles are really lovely. Service was not cranky but was pathetic when we went.

  20. Hi Everyone - thanks for your comments. Seems like we've all had some good and not so good service here. We've been invited back by the owner for a "take two" to make up for last time...I'm very impressed by this! More Piggy Face buns here I come.

  21. I do like this place -- especially the noodles, dumplings and PIGGY FACE BUNS!

    I haven't thought much about the service -- I have extremely low expectations for service at Chinese restaurants -- not a racial thing, just cultural.

    But your experience sounds downright rude.

    Good on them for reading your post and inviting you back! Hopefully they all had a chat in staff meeting.

    It would be a shame to let those piggy face buns go to waste because of it...

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