Isn’t she adorable? This steamed sesame “piggy face” bun is one of the desserts on offer at Chef’s Gallery, a handmade noodle and dumpling house located near Town Hall. Like many other dumpling houses in Sydney, there is an ongoing kitchen theatre with the chefs stretching out balls of dough into noodles and pleating dumplings for your viewing pleasure behind the glass walls of the kitchen.
I have a soft spot for fried Chinese buns so I’m interested to try the pandan flavoured yin si juan with its lurid green innards. Though it glistens on the outside, the exterior is still soft and doesn’t have the doughnutty texture that I love in fried bread. And despite the green colour it lacks a distinct pandan flavour so it basically just tastes like plain bread. Sadness.
The fried rice is much better and this may quite possibly be the tastiest fried rice I’ve tasted. Who knew that the addition of three types of egg (chicken egg, salted duck egg and century egg) could lift the humble fried rice to new heights? The rice is fluffy and I love the random bursts of salty flavour from the salted duck egg.
I’ve proclaimed my love for handmade noodles in the past so I’m expecting these noodles to be good and they don’t disappoint. The noodles are extra wriggly and show a slight resistance when bitten, and the fact that you can watch the chefs make your noodles right in front of your eyes is a bonus! These slippery noodles are accompanied by a thin pumpkin soup with some Chinese greens.
Alongside the noodles is a plate with the snowflake chicken. The crumb on the chicken is super crunchy and the meat inside is moist but on the whole it lacks flavour. I end up dunking it into the soup so that the crumb can absorb some of the soup flavour before eating it.
We also decide to order something from the dumpling menu and go with thejian bao zi – lightly pan fried pork buns. They arrive pristine and white on the plate with a sprinkling of black sesame and shallots. We’re a little worried at first that we’ve received the wrong item since they don’t look like what we usually have, but once we turn them over and examine the underside we see the telltale brown burnished bottoms.
Like the pandan buns though, they’re sadly lacking in any textural evidence that they have actually been pan fried and it just tastes like a steamed bun. The filling however is quite flavoursome though there is a noticeable lack of soup compared to ones that I’ve had at other dumpling houses.
For dessert, we have to order the cute piggy buns which come in a his and hers pair sitting in a steamer basket. They’re perfectly formed with pink ears, a piggy nose, a bow for the female pig and 2 black sesame seeds as eyes. It seems cruel to bite into them so I nibble off the ears and nose until they look like a normal bun before chomping down. The steamed bun is soft and fluffy and inside is a black sesame paste filling.
Though there were lots of other things I wanted to try on the menu, we had run out of stomach real estate but the three egg fried rice, handmade noodles and steamed dumplings and buns were the winners for me. And don’t forget to order some of the piggy buns just so you can see how cute they are for yourself!
501 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 9267 8877
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner