AU ABROAD

Chefs Gallery's new menu and art concept - CBD (Sydney)

With a new art gallery concept and a new menu, Chefs Gallery is celebrating the art of Chinese cuisine. All venues have been decked out with collectable Chinese contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. All the art is for sale.

New culinary creations have also encountered a contemporary face-lift. But I'm pleased to see that old favourites of mine (like the moreish pork and cabbage pot stickers) are staying put.

The sampling platter with four cold dishes ($20.90) is the perfect choice for groups who are unsure of what to start with. It's hard to beat the simplicity of cucumber salad marinated in chilli oil, sesame oil and garlic. But my favourite on the plate is the silken tofu topped with pork floss, shredded preserved mustard and minced chilli. The seaweed and jelly fish salad is dressed with black vinegar, sesame and a touch of chilli oil. Lastly, the Chinese mixed vegetable salad combines broccoli, black fungus, red kidney beans, bamboo shoots, shimeji mushrooms, cordyceps flowers and cherry tomatoes.

Smoked salmon ($12.90) isn’t your run-of-the-mill dish you’d normally find at a Chinese restaurant. Served with cucumber ribbons, enoki mushrooms, and a mildly spicy numbing sauce, it’s got a good kick of chilli to it.

The Chinese roti roll packed with shredded lamb and spicy cumin ($16.90) reminds me very much of Uighur cuisine. The spice-heavy lamb is bursting with flavour. The only downside is that it's a bit difficult to eat because it falls apart as you take your first bite.

For a neutral crowd-pleaser, your best bet is the lightly battered king prawns served with wasabi mayonnaise and flying fish roe ($24.90). Curiously, the mayonnaise has a green hue that looks a bit artificial to me.

Roast deboned duck with lychee ($29.90) is accompanied by a mint and chilli plum sauce. The sauce is too sweet for me, but I do enjoy the duck, especially the crispy skin.

Chinese broccoli two ways, blanched and fried, then dusted with sugar ($19.90) is an unusual addition to the menu. I enjoy the different textures this veggie dish brings, but the sugar (although not very intense) isn’t to my taste. I generally like very savoury flavours though, so not everybody would agree with me on this one.

The handmade noodles served with slow cooked beef brisket and minced beef with diced fresh chilli ($16.90) is my favourite of the night. Bursting with flavour and a fiery zing, this one's only for true chilli-lovers. I’ve always thought that Chefs Gallery's stand-out dishes are the handmade noodles. We’re even treated to a demonstration of hand-making noodles, which is both hypnotising and impressive to see.

As for the wok fried rice with diced chicken in tom yum flavour with a hint of lemongrass and fried basil ($16.90), the so-called hint of lemongrass is definitely an understatement. Having said that, anyone with a penchant for lemongrass will love it.

For the grand finale, we're treated to the piggy and eggy fairyland ($24.90). Eggy is an egg custard bun that you poke with a strawberry Pocky stick, and squeeze. The egg custard oozes out in a slightly creepy yet fun way out of the bun's mouth. Personally I prefer the piggy bun because it's packed with a delicious black sesame filling.

We dined at the Town Hall restaurant. However, there are also restaurants in Macquarie, Bankstown and Parramatta. All showcase different artworks, yet the food menu remains the same at all venues.

Chefs Gallery Town Hall
Regent Place Ground Floor
Shop 2, 501 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Website: http://chefsgallery.com/

All photos taken by Sarah Han for the AU review, except the image of Laurens Tan's The Depth of Ease artwork, which was supplied and used with permission.