On a typical Friday night in Sydney’s CBD, a Chinese restaurant glows neon lights and customers wait in line outside, eager to step inside this establishment filled with well-presented dishes and a modern, serene atmosphere. Chefs Gallery mirrors the ambience of stepping inside an art gallery, where you’re immediately captured by the elegant antiques displayed inside glass cabinets around the restaurant. Yet with a name like that, if the pictures around this restaurant are said to be worth a thousand words, then the beautifully crafted and handmade dishes of Chefs Gallery should be worth the same.
Chefs Gallery's little menu book
Chefs Gallery prides itself on the quality and authenticity of both their dishes and their establishment. As a result, the glass walls surrounding the restaurant open up an idea of watching something of a food exhibition, where chefs show off their cooking skills while you enjoy the food they have prepared sitting in front of you. Being completely open, there is no need to picture or imagine what the setting of the restaurant would look like. Rather, if you peer into the restaurant from the outside, the glass windows resolve any curiosity you might have had over the architecture, food and ambience of this restaurant gallery.
Inside, you have the advantage of seeing and experiencing all the action from the kitchen. The restaurant is well designed, with matching wooden tables and chairs, artwork framed and plastered around the walls, shades of grey and sleek black pillars. Yet the main attractions, other than the dishes, are the chefs standing over the kitchen benches behind the glass windows. In their chef whites and hats, fresh noodles are being prepared and bamboo steamers are stacked on top of each other, as dumplings and dim sims are also being prepared. Behind the windows, the occasional flambé or rising steam can be seen, adding a little excitement to the preparation.
Prawn and Pork Wontons in a Shanghainese Spicy Sauce. Great starter size for sharing.
The menu at Chefs Gallery is beautifully divided into sections, though not in the traditional entree, main and dessert categories you're most likely familiar with. For instance, Chefs Gallery's unique concept of Chapas uses this combined notion of entrees and Chinese-style tapas in one, making their chapas perfect for sharing. Other categories in the menu include soup, dim sims, noodles and rice, just to name a few.
The Prawn and Pork Wontons in a Shanghainese spicy sauce ($9.90) is one item amongst the vast array of wontons, dim sims and dumplings on offer at Chefs Gallery. The pastry is quite delicate, and encases the prawn and pork filling in a manner similar to a tortellini. With five wonton pieces in a serving, it is an ideal dish as a starter, and one perfect for sharing. Don't let the spicy sauce dishearten you from ordering this dish. The spicy sauce is slightly mild, adding just a good amount of heat and spice to the juicy wontons. Only a splash of sauce is served with the dish, and gives a small hit of extra flavour to take the dish an extra step up from its simple presentation.
BBQ Pork glazed with malted sugar - sticky, sweet and delicious.
A popular choice among most Chinese restaurants is the BBQ pork. Chefs Gallery's version of this classic dish is taken to another level. Served with thin slices of cucumber, the BBQ Pork glazed with malted sugar ($15.90) is prepared and roasted daily in-house and in the restaurant's glass-walled kitchen. The outside of the pork is beautifully pink in colour - as expected from BBQ Pork, and is sliced evenly, revealing the juicy and well-cooked meat on the inside. The sticky, golden malted sugar sauce adds a delicious sweetness to the pork, heightening the flavour of the entire dish and creating something extra special to a classic favourite. Add a small bowl of jasmine rice ($1.90) to complete the meal.
The Signature 'Piggy Face' sesame buns and 'Totoro' marshmallows. Incredibly cute presentation.
To end the night, there's no going past one of Chefs Gallery's signature dessert platters, which in itself appears just like a work of art. The Signature 'Piggy Face' sesame bun and 'Totoro' marshmallows ($19.90) are arranged in an edible garden setting, beautifully presented and served with two scoops of ice cream - mango and strawberry. Every aspect of this dessert is edible, with a chocolate wafer house, chestnut stones, biscuit pavements and a path created out of dustings of icing sugar and milk powder. The marshmallows are soft, fluffy, and are dusted with desiccated coconut, adding a good amount of sweetness alongside the glutinous piggy face buns that are filled with a black sesame paste. It’s a fun dessert, and one that most would categorise as being too pretty to eat.
Despite a very busy atmosphere, especially during dinner time, the experience of dining at Chefs Gallery is like no other. You’ll be amazed and engrossed in the interior. Care is taken into making this restaurant almost like a gallery. It’s a place where live cooking exhibitions can be seen, in tandem with paintings and sculptures placed around the establishment, and most importantly, dishes presented to please the eye.
Chefs Gallery's neon light exterior
Where: Chefs Gallery, Shop 12 (facing Bathurst Street) Ground Floor Regent Place, 501 George Street, Sydney NSW.
Why: Lovely open interior, delicious food, and cute desserts.
Cost: Moderate cost. Nothing over $30.
When: Lunch, Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, Sun 11:30am-3:30pm. Dinner, Sun-Wed 5:30pm-10pm, Thurs-Sat 5:30pm-10:30pm. No reservations on Friday and Saturday night.