Queen Chow replaced the standout restaurant at The Whale Inn after Justin Hemmes (Merivale group) bought out the retro 17-room motel in June 2021. After purchasing a house in the area, Hemmes bought up big, also taking over the wharfside bar, Quarterdeck Narooma, a seafood takeaway joint called The Inlet Narooma and an old-school pub called Lynch's Hotel. When you throw in this regional Chinese restaurant, that’s pretty much all your holiday eating and drinking needs taken care of, with no escape spending.
Queen Chow at The Whale Inn is a sibling to the Manly original and its Enmore offshoot. For locals it is clearly a much appreciated chance to consume the contemporary Cantonese dishes they’ve admired in Merivale’s Sydney exemplars. But it’s not all bought-in produce and slick Sydney waitstaff: there are also a few nods to the bounty of the aquamarine estuarine area that makes Narooma famous. Say for instance, Wagonga Inlet oysters ($4.50/each) or a small plate of local sashimi ($25)—hiramasa kingfish—with orange ponzu, chilli and green shallot oil. We ordered the latter after glutting ourselves on less expensive local oysters au natural by the picturesque motel pool with district views.
The restaurant boasts the same spectacular view, so it’s a ripper place to knock back a Western Australian 2020 Corymbia chenin blanc ($92) with a Cantonese roast meat platter ($92). With roast duck, Shandong spatchcock and excellent honey-glazed char siu pork slices plus three sauces to play with, it takes care of protein needs for two (or three) people. Throw in well-handled green beans, wood ear fungus and okra ($19) and some (I hope ironically) nostalgic special fried rice ($28) and you’re done bar for a wee stumble back to your room. If you dine early you not only get the best of the view, you can also fit in a post dinner swim during regulation pool hours: not that reception stays open much after 3 o’clock.