The debate as simmered for years, who has the best dumplings in Sydney? Din Tai Fung or Chefs Gallery? I have been a long time lover and supporter of Din Tai Fung and was so eager to attend Chef’s Gallery when the opportunity arose. I had walked past it so many times and only been prevented by time and availability. Would it, could it, should it be allowed to take the crown from DTF that I had bestowed upon it?
CHEFS GALLERY VENUE:
Chefs Gallery has six locations plus the sneaky non Chefs Gallery venue, Holy Duck. I am reviewing the George St location. The address is the Regent Place Arcade on George St but the entrance is opposite the Church near Town Hall on Bathurst Street. The restaurant has a full glass frontage and it’s large on the inside. It has a superb decor matching bright colours with subtle tones. It houses Chinese antiques and art worthy of having a walk around the venue to check it all out. For venue decor it is much better than the CBD Din Tai Fung, but I am not really here to compare the two, or am I? Haha.
The place is regularly packed with mixed cultures dining. I saw couples, business meeting, a single person, romantic diners, gay gents and straight peeps plus large families. Basically consider this upmarket modern Chinese food suitable to everyone.
To be honest I had made the decision before arriving to not order many dumplings and to explore more of the menu options. This choice was heavily steered when we discovered the menu was a hard cover book with too many pages to count. There were so many sections and so much choice I got lost. The bonus is most of the menu was photographed in the book so this heavily aided in our selections. I was dining with foodie friend, Get Fat with Nat, and she can be quite nervous around Asian food. It is so far removed from her norm so I was determined to slip in some stuff to broaden her (and my own) culinary horizons.
WHAT WE ATE:
So what better way to start was by the surprise dish for Nat of de-boned duck feet. I wouldn’t tell her what it was until she ate one. Shredded and de-boned duck feet marinated with Sichuan pepper and chilli spice, complemented with crispy sweet Chinese broccoli. I have to say it – it was gross. More like chewing on duck flavoured rubber, more fat that meat and we only ate a couple each. I am happy to say I tried them and am sure many people love them. But not for me.
Macanese Style Mini Burgers:
These were fracking amazing! Macanese style mini burgers filled with pork fillet, pork floss, lettuce and a sweet chilli mayo dressing. I usually steer clear of mini burgers aka sliders because I am a true burger wanker and mini burgs are for kids haha. The flavours of these minis was next level and we both loved them. I would return for these burgers. One plate of sliders, one beer, a perfect lunch.
We decided the best thing to do was get a dumpling sample plate to try a broad range. Mixed steamed dumplings sampling platter; jumbo prawn dumplings encased in a translucent pastry (2 pieces), chicken and prawn shui mai (2 pieces), colourful mixed vegetable dumplings in a crystal pastry (2 pieces) and fish dumplings with prawn and celery (2 pieces). They were all divine, for me the mixed vegetable dumpling was my favourite. To compare to Din Tai Fung is too difficult. When I am at Di Tai Fung I eat mostly soup filled dumplings because they are next bloody level. None of the dumplings we ate at Chefs Gallery were soup dumplings. These were great for what we ate and DTF is great for what I eat there. They are both as good as each other.
Fried Baby Calamari:
This was an odd one. Seafood caramel glazed fried baby calamari and Chinese fried fritter. Tossed with fresh apples, strawberries and crushed peanuts – finished with a gula melaka dressing. A unique twist on a sweet and savoury snack indeed. This was a super dish but it was too much. It needed way more of the fruits to break up the crispy calamari. The flavours were strong and while incredibly morish eventually the flavour overwhelmed and we had to stop. Mouthfuls with fruit were sublime however.
I am not usually a fan of Asian desserts, I have had way too many experiences where the flavours are so out of my sweet zone that I don’t finish them. So it was with a great relief and surprise I can call Chefs Gallery desserts the best Asian desserts I have eaten in Sydney. Our two dishes were just divine.
We started with the above Custrard Buns – a truly theatrical delight . This is a must order dish if you have kids with you. Eggy and Yolky egg custard buns. The venue says if you squeeze the buns they stick out their heads but realistically if you squeeze them they vomit custard haha. I LOVE THEM.
And we finished with my favourite dish of the evening. My new favourite Asian dessert, the Pot Plant Dessert. It was decadently perfecto. Layers of sponge cake, strawberry jelly and ice cream of your choice topped with choc rocks and crushed biscuits. Everything blended perfectly and the presentation was exquisite. Also – it was my first time having choc rocks and I am now obsessed.
Chefs Gallery is a superb food chain. Their food is top notch and they win for best Asian desserts in Sydney for me. Not all the food will be for everyone, as shown by our duck feet dilemma but the dishes we enjoyed we truly loved. I will return to this place for sure.
Chefs Gallery Deets:
PH: (02) 9267 8877
Shop 12, Regent Place Arcade, 501 George Street, Sydney 2000
Lunch Mon – Sun 1130am – 3pm
Late Lunch Sat and Sun 3pm – 530pm
Dinner Sun to Wed 530pm – 10pm
Dinner Thur to Sat 530pm – 1030pm
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Yes
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such.