Chefs Gallery has become a favourite for Sydneysiders who enjoy contemporary Chinese cuisine. The restaurant has a great menu but they also enjoy constantly evolving and introducing new items for hungry punters. The recent menu additions at this eatery include nine different snack-style skewers that are roasted over charcoals, as well as some fresh mains and desserts that are in keeping with the other dishes on offer.
Kai Sern Ching first introduced Sydney to high-quality Chinese food when he brought the Din Tai Fung chain to our city in 2008. In 2010 Chefs Gallery followed with a glamourous, flagship store in Regent Place, next door to Sydney’s iconic, Town Hall. Since then, Chefs Gallery has expanded into the suburbs with restaurants in Bankstown, Parramatta and Macquarie Centre, to name a few.
The food at Chefs Gallery draws on and adds fresh twists on the four main traditions in Chinese cookery. This subsequently means that the eatery has a very diverse menu. There are noodles and breads inspired by the Northern school of thought; fish and rice dishes from the Eastern; spicy foods from the West; and items from Hong Kong that take their notes from the Southern tradition.
Chapas or Chinese-style tapas are the order of the day here. This is food that is designed to be shared and enjoyed amongst good company. A fine start to a meal is the new roast duck and citrus salad. This includes a selection of fresh green leaves, enoki mushrooms, almonds, cherry tomatoes and the restaurant’s signature duck sauce dressing. This is a fresh dish that boasts a balance of flavours and textures with the nutty crunch of the almonds mixing well with the sweet tomatoes and the moreish pieces of duck.
A dish boasting a few surprises was the sweet and sour pork. This was not your glowing, red variety typically found in plastic Tupperware boxes at take-away stores, or at the bottom of the fridge. The Chefs Gallery variety was a dish fit for an emperor with crispy, golden pieces of pork in a glossy brown sauce and served with a beautiful, magenta flower made from cabbage. This pretty dish tasted as good as it looked.
Another big surprise was the restaurant’s salt and pepper tofu. This one boasted the chef’s own handmade egg and spinach tofu, lightly fried in a golden batter. This gave a lovely, crunchy outer skin that counteracted nicely with the creamy soft centre of tofu. It was also topped with different spices including chilli and pepper. This has to be one of the best vegetarian dishes ever.
Chefs Gallery’s restaurants are renowned for their handmade noodles. Patrons can watch the noodles being folded, stretched and made in the large open kitchen. A good way to sample these noodles is in the flavour-packed wok-fried noodles with sliced salted pork belly, fried egg, garlic chives, wood ear mushrooms, carrots and crispy pork belly crackling. The soy sauce had a divine smoky flavour and the noodles had a delightful sheen that almost served like a spotlight, making you realise how yummy this stir-fry is.
Sydneysiders love their pork belly. This could possibly be the reason why there are often queues outside of Chefs Gallery and other fine establishments. Their decadent Dongpo pork belly takes no less than six hours to prepare and is cooked with a medley of secret spices. The finished product has a beautiful, caramel texture and a serving that is very generous – it could almost feed a small army!
This eatery is also known for their cute little piggy buns (filled with a sweet black sesame paste) for dessert. But there are also two new desserts that are likely to give these little piggies a run for their money. The mango granita served with coconut cream, slices of fruit and crunchy granola, looks poised to be the feel-good hit of the summer. In short, it’s quite light and refreshing.
The sesame panna cotta with kaffir lime dusted meringue, Adzuki beans and sesame seed tuile, is great fun to eat. The tuile provides a crunchy sense of theatricality where you can “break” into as you do when smashing the top of a crème brûlée! The pana cotta’s smooth creaminess is also nicely contrasted by the small chunks of sweet meringue and tart fruits.
Chefs Gallery is building a strong reputation for high-quality, contemporary Chinese cuisine. The addition of several new menu items manages to expand on the ideas that originated in the dishes that people have come to know and love, while also drawing some exciting surprises into the mix. At the end of the day Chefs Gallery is proving to be one great melting pot of fabulous ideas; their fresh and varied menu means you can pick and choose your very own sumptuous, Chinese banquet. Yum!
Originally published on 28 November 2016 at the following website: http://www.theaustraliatimes.com/magazine/gourmet/issue/411/#22
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