Monday, September 15, 2014

Noodle your way to dinner at Chefs Gallery Jamison

There remains a dearth of mid-priced dinner options in the CBD, cheap and casual Japanese and pasta aside. Attempting to fill that gaping hole is the second venue from the wildly successful Chefs Gallery, snuggled into a ground floor corner of Metcentre on George Street – best accessed through Jamison Street.

Noodle master in action at Chefs Gallery Jamison, Metcentre, George Street, Sydney
Launched in 2013, Chefs Gallery Jamison is a lite version of the original Bathurst Street restaurant. It has the suits lapping up hand-stretched noodles, dumplings and other elaborate pan-Chinese dishes through the week for lunch and now weeknights for dinner until 9.00pm.

Noodle dough
The eat-in space has been recently spruced up for more of a restaurant feel, although takeaway is still available.

At a (re)launch event in July we were treated to noodle making demonstrations and even allowed to try our own hands at it, alongside the master noodle chef with more than 20 years of experience spent honing their noodle craft. Suffice to say, it's not as easy as it looks - but it is good fun.

Rolling noodle dough

Stretching noodle dough

Stretching and pulling dough into noodles

Hand stretched noodles

Kingfish sashimi Chau Zhou style
Now a fully licensed venue with cocktail and wine lists, at the relaunch event we were treated to drinks and canapé versions of some of the cold dishes on the menu, including tataki wagyu beef and kingfish sashimi.

Prawn and pork wontons in Shanghainese spicy sauce
One of the favourites of the night were the particularly plump pork and prawn wonton dumplings: bouncy meat-flled delights in a chewy wrapper, coated in that spicy, roasted chilli oil that I adore. Several of these with dry noodles really is a meal sorted.

Vegetarian spring rolls
I skipped the vegetarian steamed buns in favour for the vegetable spring rolls; which are unlike any other you'll see around town. Jam-packed with an interesting, not-cabbage-dominated vegetarian filling, I enjoyed the unorthodox, lacy-batter wrapper but the pale but crisp rolls can be a little too oily.

Macanese style pork burger
The star of the night was the mini pork buns which take inspiration from a sort-of street food in Macau. There were (big call ahead) just about the best thing between two slices of bread I've eaten all year.

Basically a particularly unhealthy Asian burger, the buns comprised two miniature deep-fried mantou bread buns sandwiching a seriously seasoned and tenderised pork fillet, doused with a spiced mayonnaise and served with some perfunctory shredded iceberg lettuce.

I'm not even a burger/slider person but these were so messily good that I had to have seconds, and maybe thirds.

Wagyu beef cubes with black pepper sauce
More substantial dishes like thick hand-stretched noodles with prawns and thin, green spinach noodles with mussels also made the rounds that night, but I kept going back for the delectable cubes of grilled wagyu beef, served with an umami-rich black pepper sauce that had me thinking good old pub steaks.

Salt and pepper house-made egg and spinach tofu
The fried cubes of the house-made spinach tofu were outstanding – the tofu being eggy, silky and so satisfying. In a salt and pepper seasoning, the crisply battered cubes on tofu topped with a layer of spinach understatedly demonstrated the extreme techniques and effort that go into Chefs Gallery's dishes for a humble meal.

House-made egg and spinach tofu with preserved vegetables
I came back for that tofu when returning for a quiet weeknight dinner. Once the thoroughfare through to Wynyard station is closed off, Metcentre is pretty quiet and only accessible from Jamison Street and clearly, only for those in the know.

The tofu, this time served with a dice of pickled mustard vegetables, was just as impressive as at the launch with a crisp surface and wobbly innards, making for a great starter to share.

Beef in spicy Sichuan soup with handmade spinach noodles 
We went with soup noodles for the cool night, and especially having seen the experts make it with such ease and finesse. The hand-stretching gives the noodles a fantastic, chewier texture and you end up with noodles of varying width and not machine-made uniformity.

The spicy beef soup noodles featured the thin green spinach noodles in a Sichuan chilli spiked soup, topped with thin sheets of tender beef, spinach and juliennes of carrot and bamboo shoot. The richly coloured umami-rich soup had that distinctive heat tingle from the chilli and pepper, and made for a huge serving.

Handmade noodles in chicken soup
Equally large was the chicken soup based plain noodles, served with spinach, carrot, fried shallots and omelette strips, and fried salt and pepper pork chops on the side.

Clearly forgetting my newfound penchant for spicy and flavour-packed dishes, I found the plain noodles – which are meant to be pure, clean and cleansing – a little bland; helped along by the super hot chilli oil from the condiments selection on every table.

Fried pork rib with five spice salt and lemon
While the pork chop should have been the highlight and redeeming flavour addition, the tender pieces were sadly lukewarm although tasty with a five spice, salt and pepper mix for dipping or sprinkling on top, alongside lemon.

The noodle soup servings are actually quite huge, more than enough for a well-priced dinner, while the a la carte menu is probably a step up in pricing. Nonetheless, Chefs Gallery has noodled its way into the CBD for lunch and now, dinner.

Food, Booze & Shoes attended the launch party as a guest and dined with vouchers, with thanks to Chefs Gallery Jamison and Whiteworks Public Relations.

Chefs Gallery Jamison on Urbanspoon


Vivian - vxdollface said...

it's always so fascinating watchign the chefs pull thin nooodle strands from a piece of dough!

Tina said...

Hi Viv - I had a go too - it's fun but trickier than it looks!


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