Wednesday, May 8, 2013

'Open table' at Mahjong Room

Posted by Jan

Having spent many years during university learning and playing the addictive Chinese tile game of mahjong, I had always been curious about Mahjong Room in Surry Hills, which has been serving Cantonese food on traditional wooden, square-topped mahjong tables since 2002.

Mahjong Room, Crown Street, Surry Hills

Owner William Hui and his chef aunt
Owner William Hui has created a beautiful restaurant decorated with touches of bygone years throughout the venue's period decor, inspired by his home in Hong Kong where the clacking of mahjong tiles could be heard throughout the day.

Traditional laneway dining
The restaurant's own laneway setting has even been featured in the movie 'Mao's Last Dancer' .

Table setting
Along with the novel setting and charming period Chinese theming, Mahjong Room offers diners the opportunity to play a game or two; whether you're a seasoned player or a newbie who might need a quick lesson from the restaurant's waiters.

Mahjong Room recently introduced a new "Open Rice, Open Table" menu designed for sharing, grazing or to be eaten with a game of mahjong. "Open Rice" means to start a meal in Cantonese and "Open Table" translates as opening up a table for a game of mahjong.

Pan fried pork and cabbage dumplings
The meal started with golden-bottomed pork and cabbage dumplings; pan-fried to a perfectly crisp surface and still juicy within.

So full of flavour they didn't even really need any of the condiments provided, but the chilli oil proved to be my favourite ahead of the chilli vinegar and chilli sauce.

Steamed garlic chive dumplings
Next were some excellent steamed garlic chive dumplings with springy, translucent skins. Garlic chives can be overpoweringly garlicky sometimes in a delicate filling, but these were appropriately balanced and mild.

Prawn and pork siu mai
The steamed siu mai of chopped prawn and pork were wrapped in the classic yellow wonton wrapper. The goji berry garnish didn't really add to the overall flavour, not that this juicy morsel needed it.

Deep fried prawn and chicken wontons
I don't usually order deep fried dumplings when I go to yum cha, but the crisp wrappers of the deep fried prawn and chicken wontons weren't greasy and contrasted well with the steaming hot, minced filling and chilli dipping sauce.

Vegetarian fried noodles
Mahjong Room also offers daily specials (check the blackboard or ask a waiter). The fried noodles with assorted vegetables and soy sauce reminded me of fried noodles from the hawker stalls in Malaysia.

Xiao long bao
Xiao long bao were little dumpling buns of minced pork and a gelatin that melts when the dumplings are steamed, resulting in a lovely broth encased inside, ready to burst forth when bitten into.

Post feasting it's time to open tables - mahjong lessons with dim sum and street food are available every Friday and Saturday lunchtime, so bring enough 'legs' (fellow players, that is) and 'open table'.

Private dining room decorated in 1960s Cantonese style
The Open Rice, Open Table menu will be available at Mahjong Room from 11.30am to 3.30pm every Friday and Saturday from April. The restaurant will be open as normal for dinner Monday to Saturday.

Food, booze and shoes dined as a guest of Mahjong Room.

Mahjong Room on Urbanspoon


Missy Piggy said...

I LOVE the Mahjong Room - the food is wonderfully fresh & light. I'd like to go along one day to learn how to play Mahjong (I'm a pro on the computer but have never picked up a real tile in my life).

priscilla @ said...

What a clever concept! Would be a good way to get my gwei lao friends into mah jong, by coaxing them with food!
Looks like fun and food sounds good too!

Annie said...

will probably eat everything off the menu here haha. might brush up on my mah jong skills while i'm there. haven't played it in years.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

William seems like a nice guy, he emailed me recently too. And they must be doing something right to be in business for so long in an area like Surry Hills!

talkandspoon said...

This place looks so great - have read great things about it too. Maybe I'll take my mum who is from HK!

missklicious said...

The food looks so fresh here! Must give it a go :)


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