A lesson in Chinese hand-pulled noodles (lamian)

On a lazy Sunday afternoon before the wild freezing Sydney weather these past few days made us all seasonally confused, our Meetup Group journeyed to Chef’s Gallery at Town Hall to celebrate the announcement of our newest food tour: exploring Chinese cuisine in Chinatown and hosted by yours truly! We were all keen to become the next generation of noodle master chefs, and have huge noodle feast (with a sneak preview of their new noodle menu). The afternoon was full of promise.


‘Lamian’ literally means ‘pulled noodles’ in Chinese, and it takes years of practise to get it right – but that didn’t deter us! Shown above is the grizzled 13-year noodle-making skills of a noodle master. And shown below is the grizzled 3-minute noodle-making skills of us rookies. Not too far off I say!


Chef Heng tells us that you need to use a ‘soft strength’ in order to pull the noodles consistently but not break them. The basic method is to pull…


…and twist!


And hope that they look as good as this:


While the noodle-making excitement was going on, we were also given samplings of ‘Chapas’ – Chinese Tapas!


We started with Tofu topped with pork floss, shredded preserved mustard and minced chilli. This takes you on a journey from salty, sour, to spicy – who said tofu was boring?


This is Chef’s Gallery’s take on Peking Duck Pancakes, where they’ve taken the traditional contents and wrapped them into fluffy Chinese roti. This means shredded Peking Duck with fresh cucumber and sweet-umami hoisin sauce stuffed into a hot, crispy roti. Yes. So much yes.


Next up was a Mixed Vegetable Salad that sparked a discussion at our table about food (in this case veggies) that we usually don’t eat unless it’s done by a restaurant, and done well. Safe to say we demolished the plate! This is made with broccoli, black fungus, red kidney beans, bamboo shoots, shimeji mushrooms, cordyceps flowers (yes flowers!) and cherry tomatoes.


I feel that there’s a bit of a burger slider trend coming on. These Macanese style mini burgers have buns inspired by Chinese ‘youtiao’ or ‘fried dough’, that people traditionally eat with congee for breakfast. Stacked in between is pork fillet, pork floss, lettuce, and a sweet chilli mayo dressing.


And here come the noodles! This was by far my favourite noodle dish of the night, with prawn and pork wontons and a spicy sauce that has just the right notes of sweet, umami, and spicy. Look for Prawn and pork wontons handmade noodles served with minced chicken and chopped lettuce in Shanghainese style spicy sauce. It’s a mouthful to say, I know, but if you’re only ordering one dish here, order this!


Hold the phone. Did you know noodles could come in more than one colour? Yep, these are Dual-coloured noodles with a light fish soup and bonito flakes.


And these are Triple-coloured noodles with colours derived from spinach and beetroot juice, and served tossed with pork strips, sliced shallots, sesame and shallot oil. They’re flatter and fatter in shape to adapt to the different coloured layers, which gives it more bite. I don’t know about you, but I love the feeling of taking a huge bite of carbs, there’s something deliciously satisfying about it – and this does just that. 


Now, noodles must be stretched 6 times in order to reach the right quality (and trust me, it is HARD to stretch it this many times without breaking the strands!). So we’re understandably ?entranced when Chef Heng stretches it 12 times to strands so thin they can be lit on fire! This made the pyromaniac in me very happy.


This is made into Fried thousand thread noodles topped with syrup and served with ice cream. It’s topped with much-needed strawberries that cut through the sweetness of the dish, and a range of Chinese-inspired ice cream flavours – think green tea and black sesame – with more traditional flavours like strawberry and mango.


If you’re interested in learning more about Chinese food, or just want to come and say hi and chill with some good food, keep your tastebuds peeled for more information about the Chinatown Food experience or submit a booking enquiry.

Chef’s Gallery
Regent Place, 12/501 George St, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9267 8877
Website: chefsgallery.com.au

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