“With seven multiple folds, Noodle Master Pei Lin Jai has split a piece of dough
into one hundred and twenty eight individual strands of noodles”
In addition to its restaurants on Bathurst and Jamieson streets in Sydney’s CBD, the hand-made noodles artistry continues as Chefs Gallery opens its third outlet at Macquarie Shopping Centre in North Ryde.
And with a kind invitation from White Works Public Relations, Mysaucepan and I join about a hundred guests at a dinner banquet to celebrate the opening of its newest restaurant in Sydney.
Chefs Gallery, North Ryde
On arrival, invited guests are greeted with pre-dinner drinks, prawn and squid siew mai and har gow prawn dumplings.
Chinese calligrapher Master Franz Cheung is present to write out your name in Chinese characters.
“My name is Louise!” a guest requests enthusiastically.
With a few quick swirls of his brush, the characters magically appear before us. It is a cultural art form I deeply admire because there are perhaps thousands of intricate characters in the Chinese language.
Similar to a pianist playing a piece of classical music on the piano, each Chinese character is required to be written in a pre-determined sequence. The judgment of a pianist’s musicianship from the interpretation of a specific music score runs parallel with the artistic flair of a calligrapher being judged by his brushstrokes within the realm of this sequential conformity.
And just like classical piano playing, the fine artistry of Chinese calligraphy would necessarily take years and perhaps even a lifetime to master.
The menu this evening is ‘chapas’ or Chinese style tapas that showcases hand-made noodles that Chefs Gallery prides itself on.
We start with spicy wonton crisps and each guest is presented with a token of prosperity.
A gold envelop emblazoned with the Chinese character ‘fook’ (meaning prosperity in Cantonese) contains a miniature gold sycee, an item used by ancient Chinese as early as the Qin Dynasty as a medium for barter and exchange.
“It’s chopstick holder!” I muse.
Mysaucepan and I are honoured to be sharing our table with some highly distinguished guests this evening including celebrity chef Janni Kyritsis whose restaurant MG Garage scored three hats from SMH Good Food Guide within its first year of opening during its heyday in the mid 1990s.
Dressed in a modernistic ‘cheong sam’, Claudia is Master of Ceremonies tonight and tells us ancient Chinese rituals. She explains the principles and virtues of feng shui as an imperative Chinese belief in ushering prosperity and good luck when starting a new business venture.
“The balance of yin and yang is very important and the chi in a room needs to make you feel good” Claudia explains.
“So those Chinese brushes that hang from the ceiling has more than just a decorative purpose.”
The good fortune ritual begins with the restaurant manager preparing a concoction equivalent to holy water in the Christian faith which is then sprinkled around the entire restaurant.
An offering of a whole chicken is then presented to a team of chefs who are believed to represent ‘kitchen gods’ as a sign of respect and to keep these gods happy and contented.
Macanese style mini burgers
Our dinner banquet begins with Macanese style mini burgers made from deep fried man tow buns filled with a slice of pork fillet, pork floss, shredded lettuce and sweet chilli mayo dressing.
They can be addictive and I resist my share this evening having sampled them before.
Shredded Peking duck roll
One of my favourites at Chefs Gallery is the shredded Peking duck roll with cucumber batons and hoisin sauce wrapped with a crisp and fluffy Chinese roti.
Crispy soft shell crab
Deep fried soft shell crab is crispy with fried shallots, garlic and chillies.
Drizzled with a sesame soy dressing, this is a summer snack I am happy to devour with icy cold beers or a chilled glass of riesling.
Crispy pork belly and barramundi
Chinese wrap crispy pork belly and barramundi are served with a dressing made of gula melaka, cinnamon and mandarin peel.
The crispy pork belly is rather sweet on its own and its BBQ flavour comes alive with just a fresh lettuce leaf.
Hand-made Chinese noodles of Chefs Gallery
The signature dishes of Chefs Gallery revolve around fresh, hand-made noodles transformed within minutes by a team of noodle master chefs.
Noodle Master Pei Lin Jai or PLJ as he is affectionately known among his colleagues demonstrates the art of hand-made noodles. Apprenticed to the art of noodle making at the tender age of 15, he has some 23 years of dedicated experience in hand-made noodles, from knife cut to delicate 1000-strand noodles and every type of noodle in between. He has won awards and gold medals for his noodle making skills in China before coming to Australia in 2010.
This evening, Master PLJ begins by twirling a piece of dough and with just seven multiple folds ( 1 – 2 – 4 – 8 – 16 – 32 – 64 – 128), he has split the dough into one hundred and twenty eight individual strands of noodles.
By popular request, celebrity chef Janni Kyritsis makes a fine attempt on hand-made noodles to rapturous applaud from guests.
Spinach hand-made noodles with mussel, prawns and squid
A light green spinach noodles and a gray squid ink similar to its Italian counterpart are modern interpretations of the traditional style.
Our spinach noodles are wok tossed with prawns, squid, Chinese shitake mushroom and mussels then dusted with a sprinkling of seaweed powder and sesame seeds.
I personally find the combination of Japanese nori flavours in a Chinese stir-fry a little awkward. As a fan of mussels, Mysaucepan find this one a little rubbery and overcooked.
A 2011 Picante Tempranillo Shiraz is bold and spicy with soft grainy tannins though lacking depth and length.
Fish noodles and chicken soup
Made from fish paste and flour, my favourite is a fish noodles and chicken soup.
Thick and irregular strands of white noodles are sprightly in a light and flavourful chicken soup that spells comfort on a cold night.
Dessert ~ Signature “Piggy Face” with “Totoro” marshmellow
The banquet finishes with the Chefs Gallery signature dessert showcasing “Piggy Face” buns filled with warm black sesame paste.
So dear readers, do you believe in feng shui and if so, which feng shui principles do you follow?
ChopinandMysaucepan dined courtesy of White Works Public Relations and Chefs Gallery North Ryde. All views and opinions are our own based on our dining experience on the day.
Shop 407, Macquarie Shopping Centre
Herring road, North Ryde
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 8040 7483
Opening hours: 11am – 9.30pm