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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Queen Chow by Merivale at Queens Hotel, Enmore

Tobiko on top of stir fried milk with prawns and fried bread at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore

If you haven't tried stir-fried milk, you need to rectify this. Immediately. It's one of the highlights at the newly opened Queen Chow, finally flinging open its doors in December after months of delays. But you know what? The wait has been worth it. There's been some serious investment in the concept, fit-out and menu by the Merivale group, resulting in a quirky mash-up of suburban hotel bar meets Hong Kong street food headed by executive chefs Patrick Friesen and Chris Hogarth, both ex-Papi Chulo.

Downstairs bar at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Ground floor bar at Queen Chow

Merivale look to be rebranding Enmore's Queen Victoria Hotel as Queens Hotel but I reckon locals will always call it the Queen Vic. The ground floor has been overhauled from RSL-style bistro to an old-fashioned pub. The small dining tables at the back score a view of all the action in the kitchen.

Upstairs dining area at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Upstairs dining area

Upstairs the changes are even more dramatic, with a moody cocktail bar area called The Smelly Goat. The covered outdoor dining area is immediately worth seeking, bathed in natural light but cleverly sheltered from any wind or rain.

Scallop and prawn, jade seafood, wild mushroom and crystal pumpkin dim sum at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Queen Chow steamed dim sum platter $32

Housemade dumplings headline the Hong Kong-themed menu at lunchtime. Dim sum master Eric Koh previously worked his dumpling magic with Merivale at Mr Wong before being poached by Tim Ho Wan Australia. He then returned to the Merivale fold with dim sum pop-up Work in Progress before joining the Queen Chow crew.

Wild mushroom dumpling at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Wild mushroom dumpling

Dumplings may be a dime a dozen in Sydney but there's a noticeable level of finesse in the dumplings by Koh. The skins are thin and just the right level of stickiness, steamed so the dumplings are still plump and juicy without feeling soggy or waterlogged.

You can order dumplings individually, but the easiest way to try several at once is to order the steamed dim sum platter. The dumplings vary by day - today we score the scallop and prawn, jade seafood, wild mushroom and crystal pumpkin.

The scallop and prawn dumpling is adorned with a generous splodge of tobiko flying fish roe and the jade seafood dumpling skin is tinted a pretty shade of green by using spinach. The crystal pumpkin is expectedly sweet, with an impressive translucency to the tapioca and wheat starch skins. My surprise favourite of the lot is the wild mushroom, yielding an intense umami hit.

Stir fried milk with prawns, tobiko and fried bread at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Stir fried milk, prawns, prawn roe, tobiko and fried bread $24

Equally satisfying is the stir fried milk. This Hong Kong classic involves a mixture of egg whites, milk and corn starch carefully heated until the mixture barely sets. Add in sweet chunks of prawn and an avalanche of tobiko and relish the textural contrast against the wobbly clouds of milky egg white.

We do find the you tiao deep fried bread sticks a little on the dense and chewy side, but expect these to improve as the kitchen finds its feet.

Hokkien noodles wih Sichuan pork slices and black fungi at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Hokkien noodles, Sichuan pork slices, black fungi and garlic stems $24

There's no mention of chilli against the Hokkien noodle dish but be warned, this one packs a punch. It's a satisfying, and sambal-heavy tangle of chewy Hokkien noodles tossed with tender pork slices, crunchy black fungus, crisp garlic stems and a smattering of sesame seeds.

Slightly fires the emperor of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Slightly fires the emperor of cuttlefish, macadamia and garlic chive $16

Winner of most poetic dish on the menu is the slightly fires the emperor, a textural crunchfest of garlic stems, young corn, cuttlefish, black fungus and macadamia nuts.

Chong Qing hot and numbing chicken wings at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Chong Qing hot and numbing chicken wings $18

And if you're looking for maximum flavour, Chong Qing hot and numbing chicken wings deliver on its promise. There's a ridiculous amount of Sichuan pepper in here, coupled with dried red chillies that will wallop your tongue into submission. But you won't be able to stop eating that chicken, fried to an audible crisp and dancing with chilli and mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper.

Typhoon shelter mud crab at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Typhoon shelter mud crab market price - we paid $140 for 1kg

If you really want to splash out - and we're celebrating two birthdays so we do - go for broke and order the typhoon shelter mud crab. You'll be rewarded with enough deep fried garlic to ward off all of Transylvania. It's one big mess of garlic, chilli, black beans and soy.

Carapace crab meat inside the typhoon shelter mud crab at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Crab goodness inside the carapace

Go in with your fingers and lick, suck and scrape every last skerrick of crab meat that you can find. The best bits are in the carapace of course.

Coffee milk tea dessert at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Coffee milk tea $15

Unlike most Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, dessert is not just a bowl of the housemade red bean soup. Coffee milk tea is a clever homage to the Hong Kong addiction to coffee and tea mixed together in the one drink. Yes, really.

Queen Chow's assembly of chocolate mud cake bites and caramel ice domes (infused with tea and then bruleed to the surface is caramelised) piled high with instant coffee mousse is far more pleasurable. Its combination of cream and coffee flavours is reminiscent of tiramisu. Tiny salted caramel balls and a shower of praline dust provide textural interest.

The forgotten koi fish in the frozen pond at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
The forgotten koi fish in the frozen pond $15

The forgotten koi fish in the frozen pond is a story you'll have to ask your waiter about. Tastewise, it's just the kind of dessert you want in a Sydney summer, combining fresh coconut, mango and pink pomelo with lychee granita, mango ice cream and two beautifully shaped and shaded koi fish made from mango pudding. The purple frilly pieces are tosaka seaweed. They add a terrific savoury note.

Head chef Patrick Friesen in the kitchen at Queen Chow by Merivale in Enmore
Executive chef Patrick Friesen in the kitchen

And the best news of all? Queen Chow is open until 2am every night except Sunday. Win.

Queen Chow by Merivale at the Queen Victoria Hotel in Enmore

Queen Chow 
Queens Hotel (aka the Queen Victoria Hotel)
167 Enmore Road, Enmore, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9240 3000

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday 12pm-2am

Friday 12pm-3am
Saturday 10am-3am
Sunday 10am-10pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts
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11 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 1/08/2017 03:16:00 am


  • At 1/09/2017 11:11 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Went for drinks, which was nice, but it's clear I will have to revisit for a snack - or more.

  • At 1/09/2017 3:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    $32 for 8 dimsim is a bit hefty.

  • At 1/09/2017 4:55 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    That crab! So garlic-y and delish!

  • At 1/09/2017 4:58 pm, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    I love the bar - it's very NYC. I'm quite sure I've never had stir-fried milk - must get myself to either HK or this restaurant to try some. The food is so colourful and pretty with great variety xx

  • At 1/09/2017 9:35 pm, Anonymous Tania|My Kitchen Stories said…

    Food looks great Helen and I am eager to try, although Merivale does make you pay well and truly for there incredible fit outs.

  • At 1/10/2017 9:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Went for dinner 6 persons ( eaten everywhere chefs included in the group ) .$ 500.00 bill that's 1 bottle of wine 4 cocktails + one beer .
    Great decor & nice dumplings but the mains seriously need attention very ordinary , with the pork dishes just mediocre .
    What is going on this group ate last week at David Thompsons Long Chim ( outstanding )
    We all rated the food 4 out of ten .
    Lots of punters there ( good media ) .

    Well business is all s out return buisness we will not be going back to eat .

  • At 1/11/2017 3:17 am, Anonymous Lee Tran Lam said…

    Good to see you were impressed by the stir-fried milk, too! I bet it could so easily become scrambled eggs in the wrong hands! I was lucky to try a vego version, I hope they put it on the menu one day.
    So glad you loved the milk tea dessert, too!

  • At 1/14/2017 10:47 pm, Anonymous John | heneedsfood said…

    Wow, what a transformation. You can tell it's Merivale just by looking at the fit-out and it's only a matter of time before it's crawling with Bondi socialites. Am going to miss the Queen Vic! It all looks and sounds great, but ouch, some of those prices!

  • At 1/23/2017 5:54 pm, Anonymous Joseph - UpForAFeed said…

    I have never had stir fried milk before didn't even know it was a thing. It does sound and look quite nice. Have to add it to my long list oof things to try....

  • At 2/02/2017 12:49 pm, Anonymous Eating Adventures said…

    Those mushroom dumplings look outstanding. I will have to try it on my next trip to Aus.

  • At 7/12/2017 1:46 pm, Anonymous sara | belly rumbles said…

    My mouth hurt just looking at those hot and numbing chicken wings! Seriously want to try the stir fried milk, sounds like a spruced up comfort dish, love it.


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