According to executive chef Patrick Friesen, Queen Chow is the eatery Manly has been waiting for. “There are enough places to get a pizza or a burger around here.”
Queen Chow in Manly is bigger than the Enmore original (inside Merivale’s Queen Hotel) and has a much stronger focus on seafood. In Enmore it’s more about dim sum, Cantonese barbeque and cocktails.
Queen Chow 2.0 is on the other side of city and has a dedicated oyster bar, live-seafood tank and views of the Sydney Harbour ferries coming in to collect and deliver commuters. It’s in the former Papi Chulo space (it closed in April), another kitchen Friesen headed up while also running the Enmore digs.
“It was fun having two creative outlets, but a focus is good,” he says. “I’m really fascinated by the way Chinese food has evolved all around the world. In Singapore and Malaysia they have their own versions, in Australia it’s different again. Even in the smallest towns there’s a version of Chinese food that’s evolved, and people love it.”
The seafood offering is a deft balance between traditional and Westernised Chinese food. Mud crab, lobsters and pippies wok-fried in XO sauce sit alongside honey king prawns. “It’s not authentic Chinese, it’s Australian Chinese,” says Friesen.
Inspiration for much of Queen Chow’s menu also comes from Hong Kong’s dai pai dong, open-air food stalls. There are barbeque Peking duck pancakes with cucumber, leeks and hoisin sauce, and a warming soup of handmade wontons.
Enmore favourites such as barbeque platters of roast duck and char siu pork are also on the menu, as is an exemplary dim sum offering from Eric Koh (Mr Wong, London’s Michelin-starred Hakkasan). Choose from pork and prawn shumai; pork xiao long bao; wild-mushroom dumplings; and wobbly, yellow egg tarts.
There’s a 200-strong wine list with a strong focus on organic and biodynamic wines, rieslings and lighter reds such as pinot noir. Herbs and fruits used in the food are also incorporated into the cocktails, such as the Chow Dynasty with Wyborowa vodka, lychee, yuzu, passionfruit and sake. And the Silk Route with Beefeater gin, lemongrass, citrus, apple and orange bitters.
In a lot of ways Queen Chow at Manly Wharf resembles a Chinese restaurant that could be anywhere in the country. There’s a live-seafood tank at the entrance and lazy Susans grace large group tables. But the space is much grander than your average suburban eatery. It has large windows offering million-dollar views, and its dark green colour palette makes it feel refined and modern. The space still bears traces of Papi Chulo’s American-grill vibe – as well as that other beachside Merivale venue, Coogee Pavilion – but once the dumplings or crab arrives on your table you won’t notice much else going on.
Queen Chow Manly
Manly Wharf, 22–23 East Esplanade, Manly
(02) 9114 7341
Mon to Wed 12pm–11pm
Thu to Sat 12pm–12am