The current March Into Merivale festival continued throughout this past week, with the strongest event being Wok On, one of the signature events of Merivale’s massive food and wine festival, and once again amongst the most wildly popular of the extensive program. Establishment was packed out early for the three-hour event, which called upon the rich stock of various Asian eats that Merivale is known for, from the famed Mr Wong and Ms.G’s to the forthcoming Queen Chow, which will be opening soon as the hospitality group’s first foray into Sydney’s inner-west (Enmore to be exact).
Stalls came from the aforementioned as well as Sushi E and Sunee’s Thai Canteen, with each stall having their own moments as the night’s biggest queues would constantly shift between outlets. Towards the start of the event, Mr Wong was proving the most popular – no surprise there – and strangely enough it was placed right near the entrance so there was some overcrowding before many decided to head to the back of the venue and gradually work their way towards the front.
Towards the end of the event, popularity shifted towards Sunee’s Thai Canteen, who were offering the only dessert dish of the entire event, a textural wonder of Sticky rice with sweet mango that was just as delicious as their great Hor Mok Pla, a spicy steam dry red fish curry served neatly in a banana leaf cup. Sunee’s Thai Canteen is often an underdog at events like this, but they always seem to pull through to the top when all is said and done.
Mr Wong’s Steamed King Crab, Prawn, and Asparagus Dumpling (headline photo) was one of the favourites of the night, along with the generously sized Spicy White Cut Chicken which was flavoured with a secret sauce and Sichuan chilli oil. Opposite Dan Hong and his crew stood Sushi E, offering Tuna Avocado Rolls, some refresing Salmon Sashimi Salad Daikon with salmon roe and yuzu dressing, and their crispy highlight, Japanese Fried Chicken with ginger shallot sauce.
Ms.Gs were running things towards the middle of the event, efficiently pumping out their popular Cheeseburger Spring Rolls alongside some Yellow Curry with crab and rice vermicelli, and their Chicken & Longan Salad with chilli and black vinegar dressing.
However, it was Queen Chow that was the most consistently popular of the night, with all attendees curious to see what dumpling master Eric Koh would be serving up alongside the more meatier side of the venue’s menu, which was handled by Papi Chulo champs Patrick Friesen and Christopher Hogarth. It was hard to pick which half of Queen Chow’s Wok On menu was the winner, both sold out of at least one item within the first two hours of the event, Koh with his glorious Deep Fried Lobster Noodle Roll and Friesen/Hogarth with their HK Style French Toast served up with some char siu pork.
The lobster noodle rolls were previewed when Koh had a brief residency at Merivale’s Work in Progress bar, golden and crispy thin noodles branching every which way and encasing some soft, juicy lobster, perfect in both texture and taste; worth ramping up the the anticipation of Queen Chow alone.
Meanwhile, the HK Style French toast was in constant demand once people found out what was inside that smooth, bready box – crunchy peanut butter. I have feeling that when Enmore’s Queen Chow does open up to the public, this will be one of the most popular menu items.
Sneaker culture and hip hop have gradually been creeping more and more into Merivale’s signature events, so it was unsurprising to see Halfway Crooks dictating the booming soundtrack of the night, bouncing between various U.S styles of hip hop during the event’s first half with everything from Redman and Q-Tip to Master P and Mystikal before focusing in on more pop-friendly tunes like Lumidee’s “Never Leave You” and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk”, a soundtrack shift that included some breakers dancing on top of the bar.
The energetic event continued a bit past 8:30pm and the buzz never really died down from the starting time of 5:30pm. Chalk up another successful event for the March Into Merivale calendar, helped along by some of the group’s MVPs.