As the sun sets in bustling Hong Kong, busy streets are closed to traffic and transformed into makeshift kitchens and dining rooms.
Known as dai pai dongs, these pop-up restaurants are the go-to dinner destination for tradies, bankers, hipsters and tourists alike, and serve everything from classic stir-fries to live seafood.
Executive Chefs Christopher Hogarth and Patrick Friesen can’t get enough of them, and it’s their humble but incredibly flavoursome street food that has inspired the chefs’ Queen Chow menu.
“Cantonese food ranges from ultra-traditional dishes to modern, fine dining experiences at Michelin star restaurants,” Chris explains. “The dai pai dongs are where everyday people go to eat – it’s not tricked up food, it’s just delicious. It’s more our style.”
Which isn’t to say it’s pedestrian. Indeed, with dishes like South Australian pippies with black bean, chilli and Tsingtao; salt and pepper cuttlefish, silken tofu and prawns with chilli bean mayo; and whole roast duck with plum sauce, it’s anything but.
“We went to Hong Kong twice to research the cuisine,” Pat explains. “We love Asian food, and we’ve tried to emulate and enhance our favourite dishes by using the best quality ingredients we can get our hands on.
“There’s your classic chicken wings, fried rice, roast duck, and Hokkien noodles with Sichuan pork – all made with excellent produce and pushed to the flavour limits.
“And then there’s some dishes that are iconic in Hong Kong but not as readily available here. Typhoon Shelter Crab – deep fried crab with garlic, chilli, black bean and pulp from soy milk – is a good example of that and a dish I’m really excited about. It’s messy and interactive and you can’t stop yourself from eating it all.”
Which rings true for Queen Chow’s dim sum offering, too. “Eric Koh is a dumpling master,” says Chris.
Indeed, with 30 years experience (including tenures at the two-hatted Mr. Wong, and Work In Progress) Eric has made the artistry of dim sum his life’s work, and will be feeding Enmore’s hungry masses his famous steamed, baked, and fried dim sum for lunch, dinner and supper.
“He is the best of the best. He has lobster and prawn dumplings, crispy BBQ pork buns, pork and prawn shu mai with black caviar…” smiles Chris. “We’re lucky to have him on board.”
In fact, the boys – who have just finished up at Papi Chulo, the restaurant they launched in Manly three years ago – feel lucky all round to be able to introduce Queen Chow to Sydney’s Inner West.
“We’re feel really humbled to have been given the opportunity to open a new restaurant again,” says Chris.
“We cook what we love to eat, and we hang out in pubs and drink beer with our families and friends and just have a good time. Queen Chow is all those things. It’s refined but relaxed; it’s cheap but excellent spring rolls with a schooner or a more extravagant mud crab with a cocktail.”
“Hong Kong can be whatever you want it to be,” further explains Pat. “And so too can Queen Chow.”
Queens Chow is now taking bookings and walk-ins.