In Short: Unique Asian fusion, multi-sensory experience as you watch your food being created, extensive menu, great city vibe.
Chefs Gallery Town Hall Video Review
If you are in the Sydney CBD and happen to be around Town Hall, Regents Place, it would be hard to miss the large neon signs facing Bathurst Street that beam out the name Chefs Gallery. Quite distinct as well, is the queue of patrons patiently waiting for a prized table or seat by the glassed bar to watch the chefs at work.
What sets this restaurant apart from all the other eateries in the area and makes it special? Well, Chefs Gallery is an Asian Chinese fusion restaurant, where each dish is not just delicious and artistic, but also aims to give you a multi-sensory dining experience. Dining here is not just about getting to eat the amazing end product, but to also admire the chefs honing their craft on a daily basis. To do that, the centre stage of Chefs Gallery is their glass walled kitchen. Traditionally in Asian cuisine, the diner is shielded from the magic that goes into the creation, but that’s not the case here. We witnessed the skilled chefs work in unison to prepare the dishes, giving the restaurant a special vibrant energy. There is a certain novelty in being able to see the chefs do their little dance, twist and turn, as they transform the raw ingredients into a cohesive and wonderful dish.
If watching chefs is not your thing, there is plenty of traditional seating, that is perfect for groups of all sizes, and you can always sneak a peak of the performance in the kitchen from just about every seat.
The overall setting of the restaurant is casual, but still upscale enough for more formal gatherings. The soft lighting, long wooden tables, comfortable chairs, and proper Chinese table setting, all come together to create a delightful and immersive atmosphere.
As always, drinks are up first and we recommend the lychee and mint juice. It is an upmarket version of a “slushie”, consisting of crushed ice mixed with lychee syrup, whole pieces of lychee, and crushed mint makes this drink so refreshing and not too sweet.
The first plate arrives and it’s the barramundi fillet grilled in banana leaves with a spicy sambal sauce. Chefs Gallery has basically taken this Aussie classic fish, added the favourite Asian sambal marinade, and steamed it in banana leaves, which not only preserves the tender moistness of the fish, but also imparts a delightful fragrance. The sambal sauce is spicy, with ginger and garlic flavours and the spiciness is balanced with a salty notes from the soy sauce. All the work makes this an addictive dish that will have you coming back for more with each bite.
No meal at a Chinese restaurant would be complete without a duck dish. Chefs Gallery’s roast duck has a glistening, crispy skin that crackles to reveal perfectly tender and succulent meat. It is served halved, fully deboned, and sits atop sliced cucumber. Whole lychees add crunch and sweetness to the light mint and chilli plum sauce. A well harmonised offering where all the elements work together, create a dish that leaves no doubt as to why it is one of the most popular.
Knowing that hand-made noodles are what Chefs Gallery is famous for, you just know that at least one noodle dish would make our list. Hand-made noodles wok fried in premium soya sauce with shredded roast duck, Chinese shiitake and king brown mushrooms, garnished with omelette strips and sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, is our choice. The noodles have a smooth texture which allows it to be easily slurped, and yet it retains a springy al dente bite that reminds us of perfectly cooked Italian pasta. Based on the dark colours and sweet caramelised flavours in the noodles, I am thinking there is generous swig of ketchup manis (sweet soya sauce) in the frying of these noodles. The dish is complete with generous portions of shredded duck, and slivers of finely cut omelette, with sesame seeds dispensing little bursts of nutty flavours in each mouthful.
Shredded peking duck with cucumber is another Chefs Gallery favourite. Seasoned with hoisin sauce and rolled inside a fluffy roti-style pancake with shredded duck and cucumber, it’s easy to see why this is another popular dish here. Dispense with the cutlery on this dish, and dive in with your fingers to properly enjoy it. Oh, and don’t forget to lick the left over hoisin sauce from your fingers afterwards, yum!
Who would have thought you can get burgers in a Chinese restaurant? Chefs Gallery’s Macanese style mini burgers are little sliders made with mantou (deep fried buns) and filled with pork fillet, pork floss, lettuce and a sweet chilli mayo dressing. The bite size morsels are full of rich flavours from the pork fillet and pork floss, while the fried bread is both soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The sweet chilli mayonnaise gives the burger an added sweet, milky moistness. Another dish where you are encouraged to use your hands to experience all the flavours.
If you don’t get your fill of the mantou (deep fried buns) used for the sliders, you can always order additional serves of the buns that come with a side of heavenly sweet condensed milk. Be careful though, you can quite easily find yourself devouring these by the dozen!
Even the pork chops at Chefs Gallery are not your run-of-the-mill breaded deep fried pork chop affair. These are none other than coffee caramelised pork chops served with a selection of green tea biscuits. The perfectly cooked pork is sweet, accented by subtle coffee flavours, which pairs ideally with the green tea biscuits.
A classic vegetable plate to add to the order is Chefs Gallery’s English spinach wok fried with fresh garlic and topped with fried garlic. It’s a simple spinach stir-fry that showcases the distinct garlic flavours and is a classic Chinese offering done well.
With tofu hand-made on the premises, salt and pepper spinach tofu was always going to be a highlight. Rectangular slices of tofu, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then deep-fried with a spinach topping are dreamy pillows of texture and flavour. With nicely balanced seasoning infusing the tofu, it’s definitely a dish that you find yourself picking at almost unconsciously.
Last but not least, Chefs Gallery has a unique dessert platter that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and awaken your inner child (unless of course you already are one!). Chefs Gallery has an Instagram hit with their Piggy and Eggy Fairyland, which are a combination of sesame and egg yolk buns. These buns have facial features to make them playful, but that’s not where the cuteness ends! Eggy and Yolky also have a ‘mouth’ that has a runny, egg custard surprise with every playful squish. It is not only mischievous fun, but it also had our little one squealing and laughing in delight. This is one time she was actually allowed to play with her food and eat it too! If that’s not enough to make you smile, there is also the fairy floss milky way, star sprinkles, chocolate rock, and edible pearl decorations, splashed across the plate.
Our meal at Chefs Gallery was quite unforgettable. We now understand why patrons are willing to brave any kind of weather, to wait in line for a chance to eat at this unique and award winning restaurant.