A Melbourne, London & Hong Kong dessert blog
There is a paparazzi-worthy dessert at this indeed, fine gallery of Chinese food.
Along George Street, between the tourist ends of Darling Harbour and the CBD shopping precinct, Chef’s Gallery glows in the dark. Stepping inside from a neon-green frontage that wouldn’t look out of place in an East Asian metropolis, a bright, airy, cavernous space greets you. From beautifully upholstered gold cream seating and honeyed wood, dining patrons gaze at a line-up of chefs rolling, kneading, pulling, stretching noodles behind a glass tank of an enormous gleaming steel kitchen. Discreetly dividing the main dining area from a more function-oriented space at the far end, a glass showcase containing a replica of famous Chinese painting pays due homage to the great length of Chinese history, and therefore Chinese culinary art.
MoMo & Coco visited for a weekend dinner. Chef’s Gallery a la carte menu was a lengthy book akin to a curated museum list that negotiated its way through showcasing the more well-known of regional dishes from China, from Shanghai to Xian, Beijing to Guangzhou. Catering for all budgets, stomach sizes and sensitivities, there were varieties upon varieties of ”soups, dim sums, tapas, roti, seafood, poultry and meat, vegetables, noodles, rice and desserts.” Of the just over 10 dishes that MoMo & Coco’s large dining party selected, the highlights were the very expensive but very excellent dim sum (the trilium prawn dumplings with fish roe and caviar are the most amazing dumplings we have had ever, even in comparison to our eating in high-end Shanghai and Hong Kong restaurants) and the traditional dan dan noodles. The rest were good, but not entirely memorable, partly because the alleged spice and flavour factor needed to be turned up…by several volumes. Let’s turn to the desserts. Of a limited number, there’s boring ice cream scoops available (green tea, black sesame, mango and strawberry) and baskets of two type of sweet dumplings. Follow MoMo & Coco’s lead and pre-order the below dessert. Arguably the most fun, most memorable dessert we have ever ordered, ever. Perhaps not for taste or technique, but for the novelty of it all, and besides, desserts should be fun, to elicit an endless stream of “OMG, hahaha!,” to make many an envious neighbouring table ask “can I have what they are having?”, and…to be attacked by a paparazzi of mobile phone cameras even by those who do not usually photograph food, let alone blog. Now that’s truly a dessert!
For $19.90, the below shared dessert platter was like eating a cutesy Morning Glory or Sanrio shop. Waddling up a field of desiccated coconut flakes along a straight biscuit path (a straight road not actually feng-shui friendly we note) to a makeshift hut constructed of beams of crispy chocolate wafer, two little piggies filled with a sweet, slightly caramelised sticky black sesame paste sidled up to two Confucian-looking “totoro” marshmallow men that had the empty taste, chewy mouthfeel that was not unlike a mochi sweet. Two balls of ice cream resembled trees and completed the pretty picture.
Following a pan-China path, Chef’s Gallery is a fine culinary gallery. The food is generally successfully executed, with an evident degree of refinement, though the chefs should not fear being more audacious in bringing the flavours of China alive a far bit more in several of their dishes. The service runs exactly as a well-drilled military team, prompt, efficient, spare in explanation, with spotless uniforms, earpieces and plastic mouth guards to match. The ambience is a flurry of tantalizing aromas and bustling chatter that bounces off each other with the kinetic energy of heated molecules. And that dessert platter…utterly unforgettable. Overall, Chef’s Gallery is a testament to the fact that good Chinese food is sorely lacking in Melbourne.
- Dessert adventure checklist
- Dessert destination: Chef’s Gallery Restaurant, 501 George Street, Sydney CBD, NSW 2000.
- Budget: $$-$$$.
- Sweet irresistibles: Restaurant dessert. Neo-classical Chinese.
- Must-eat: The above-pictured nameless, made-to-order dessert platter.
- The short and sweet story: There is a paparazzi-worthy dessert at this indeed, fine gallery of Chinese food.