In Short: Authentic Chinese food at a spacious and clean restaurant with great service and affordable prices.
Sydney’s Chinatown has some of the most authentic Chinese food outside of China. There is no lack of good Chinese restaurants and I think Coco and Vine has unearthed a hidden gem amongst the endless options. The Bun Gallery is located in Ultimo, just opposite UTS and Market City. In terms of location, The Bun Gallery is a winner, as it is convenient for students or anyone visiting Chinatown/Haymarket area. Being a double storey restaurant, there are seating options available on the 1st and 2nd floor of the restaurant. Seated on the first floor, you have the advantage of a full view of the chefs at work. The concept is deliberate, and the diner is assured that the food is prepared with utmost care in a clean and bright kitchen. If you want more privacy, you can opt for a seat on the 2nd level. The stairway leading to the 2nd floor is decorated to look like a Chinese alleyway, with traditional Chinese restaurant signage. The walls are also adorned with Chinese newspaper wallpaper. Plastered on the walls of the restaurant are red and gold Chinese words of auspiciousness and good wishes.
Looking at the categories in their menu, Bun Gallery has no lack of food offerings. There is the Fresh Handmade Bun, Dim Sum & Dumpling, Snacks, Congee, Cold Dish, Homemade Soup, Noodle Soup, Fried Rice, Stir Fried Noodles, Main Dish, Dessert and Beverages.
Two of Bun Gallery’s dumpling chefs hail from China and Taiwan, while their wok chef is from Hong Kong. This is backed up by the skilled hands of a lady that purely focuses on making dumplings the traditional way.
When a dish bears the restaurant name, you know that it would have to be their signature dish. Bun Gallery’s 喜喜鲜肉包 (signature pork bun) certainly lives up to its name. You get one bun per serve but it’s a generous size. White, fluffy, and inviting, the skin of the bun is pillowy-soft. Once you break into it, you can see the rich stock from the meat steaming inside and oozing out. Needless to say, the meat is juicy, tender and flavourful. This is just one crazy yummy bun.
The喜喜炸鸡翅 (“Xixi” deep fried marinated chicken wings) are deep fried marinated chicken mid-wings, fried to a perfect golden colour and crispy skin. The marinade is a traditional recipe from northern China (北方) where the cumin and chilli flavours take precedence. You can see the extra sprinkling of spices on the chicken and the spicey flavour definitely comes through in this dish but it’s never overpowering. Crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside, it’s fried chicken done to absolute perfection.
The 生煎包 (pan fried buns) come in a basket of 6 pieces. It’s a different kind of bun from the normal steamed variety, as it is not just steamed but pan fried as well. This gives the bun a brown crispy underside while maintaining a soft, white texture on the top. When you bite into it, the rich stock from the meat oozes out. The meat is cooked just right, juicy and tender. The accent of a light sprinkle of black sesame and green onions on top of the bun, make it look so moist, glistening, and inviting.
秘制红油秒手(wonton in homemade chilli sauce) is 6 delicious boiled wonton with pork and chive filling. The dish comes served in a bowl, coated in a homemade chilli sauce. The wonton skin is just the right thickness, while the filling is seasoned perfectly. What makes this dish a standout though, is the special recipe homemade chilli sauce, which the dumpling comes served in. The spice factor comes from the use of Szechuan peppers making it numbingly hot on the tongue, but the flavours and fragrant aromas from the peppers keep you coming back for more.
One of Coco and Viner Sacha’s favourite Chinese dishes is 麻婆豆府 (mapo tofu). In Bun Gallery’s version of this classic Chinese dish. You can see big chunks of tofu and the generous balls of mince in the shiny red sauce. The cubes of tofu and spicy meat flavours makes this a rich yummy dish that is a must-try. It is definitely on the spicy spectrum of flavours but very addictive. This dish is definitely best eaten with white steamed rice.
Little Coco and Viner Sammi’s favourite Chinese food is congee. When we saw that Bun Gallery does congee, we knew immediately that it had to be ordered and tried by Sammi. Bun Gallery’s 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (minced pork & preserved egg congee) is a thick, white creamy congee garnished with yellow crispy sprinkle and green onion. Served in a clay pot, the texture of the congee is very fine. You can barely see the grains of rice, which makes its extremely smooth on the palette. Sammi’s verdict on the congee is that the pork is the best!
The Bun Gallery definitely lives up to its Chinese name喜喜 (Xixi), which literally means Double Happiness. The chefs and staff are super friendly and very accommodating. They even have special cutlery and plates for the smaller kiddies who have not yet graduated to adult plates, making this a very family friendly place that never compromises on taste and all at an affordable price.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of Bun Gallery.