WHERE: Shop 12, Regent Place Arcade, 501 George Street, CBD, Sydney, NSW
WHAT: The best place to partake in deboned duck with plum sauce in Sydney. However the near-perfect food, artistically served, is made a little bitter with more memories of McDonalds service than Hiltons.
PRICE: Approx. $60 for 3 people.
If you feel like some sort of East Asian cuisine, yet you can’t ever seem to decide what you want (and you’re out dining with those terrible and fussy friends who somehow don’t like Thai food), Chefs Gallery is your answer with elements from the four main schools of Chinese cuisine. Complete with assembly-line and smile-less service and yet a beautifully photographic menu and even delicious items, Chef’s Gallery is for those customers who are not so fussy about the waiter throwing the plate down on your table. For a restaurant which claims to make an art of dining out on their website, the quality of the food is severely compromised by the service.
The firts thing you’ll notice when you walk in is not the beautiful aroma of the Pan-Chinese cuisine, nor is it the chatter of happy patrons. It is the neutral and stoic face of the waiter who always lets you know that they can ‘give you a bench’ but no table. We chose to wait for a table, and three of us were ushered to a table for two. Later on when the table next to us had emptied, we called the waitstaff over to ask if we could have that table added to ours as my friend and I were seated so close that our elbows were getting too intimate. Instead she shrugged and said something along the lines of ‘this is for someone else’. To their credit, there is always someone waiting, however maybe it is better to insist on a table for three from the outstart.
Woe betide you also if you are or look younger than 35, for you will have a hard time getting any service, even bad. Two ladies sitting next to us who came after us were not only waited upon, but served with a variety of drinks and dishes before we could even order table water. When we finally did manage to order, the staff member needed to be shown the photo of the item on the menu as she did not know what it was called…
Anyhoo…we ordered first the Crab Meat Spring Rolls ($13.90) which came in a serving of six. These were something I would definitely recommend amongst the multitude of offerings – they are served hot without being burning, and crispy on the outside, juicy and moreish on the inside. The dynamic textures in a simple spring rolls surprised me, and it’s definitely something that I would not hesitate in ordering again. All agreed that it was a great choice.
For the main course we ordered Medium Grain Fried Rice with Prawns and Diced Chinese Olives ($16.90). This was again, flavoursome without being too sweet or sauce-saturated, and the prawns were cooked to perfection: neither tough, nor with a raw fishy taste. The Chinese olives added that extra something-something to the dish, and as we discovered, it was the perfect accompaniment to our next item of choice.
To go with the rice, we ordered their signature dish: the Roast Deboned Duck served with Lychees in a light Mint and Chilli Plum Sauce ($29.90). Expensive for it’s size, but certainly a treat, the rich flavours of the sauce were polemic amongst my dining companions; however with their moderately underdeveloped palates (I didn’t put much importance to it. The sauce is very strong and tangy in taste and evokes the use of apricot in Pan-Mughal cuisine. Certainly it was the first time trying cooked lychee and it hardly disappointed, and the duck was cooked to beyond perfection. With such strong dominant flavours comprising of sweet, sour and fruity, I was glad of the rice’s more subdued flavour. Seriously, don’t miss the duck; its a signature dish for a reason.
It’s a shame that their service evokes more memories of the local McDonalds than a museum-like city restaurant. The food is beyond good; honestly although a little overpriced for serving size, it is after all in a prime location of Sydney.Perhaps with better service and waitstaffs, Chefs Gallery will achieve the art of restauranting to its fullest potential.