Chinese delights at Mah Jong Room

Those of you who read my earlier post on Hunky Dory, would have read that last Friday I was on a night out with visitors in Sydney, and after trying all the cocktails on the menu we got rather peckish, so we decided to grab a bite to eat nearby at one of my favourite ‘local’ Chinese restaurants, Mah Jong room on Crown St.  Mah Jong Room, owned by William Hui and Erika Chan, has been keeping the place busy with diners for over ten years.  I have been to Mah Jong several times before, I love it for its authentic Chinese food in a very quaint setting.

The waiters at the restaurant were very welcoming still seating us at a table so late at night (it must have been close to 10.30 pm when we arrived).  We were seated in one the wooden carved square mah-jong tables, in the front room of the restaurant.

They have made use of every corner of the place, there are is an open area with tables at the back of the restaurant under red lanterns and Chinese opera masks on the wall, and a number of private rooms beautifully decorated with Chinese ornaments, scrolls and golden dragons.   The decor and fun ambience of this place reminds me of some of the restaurants in HK’s soho area.

My friends and I were pretty peckish this time of the night, and got a bit carried away ordering from the menu.

We started with Boiled Vegetarian Dumplings – with choy sum, black fungus, and pressed doufu, $9.

Followed by Peking Duck served with Pancakes, $24.  The pecking duck is cooked perfectly, tender juicy pieces of duck, which we wrap in the thin slices of pancakes with hoisin sauce and thin slices of cucumber.

I had to try the Five Spice Chilli Chicken – with red capsicum and roasted almonds, $22   My mum always used to cook us this dish when I was little, so am I always tempted to order it when I see it on the menu.  The dish is done nicely, the chicken is moist and tender infused with the beautiful spice flavours, although I could have done with a bit more spiciness to the chicken and I was expecting a few more almonds (mum used to go crazy with the almonds!)

Next comes the Tiger Prawns & Sugar Peas – wok fried in xo sauce, $23.  Very simple dish, but cooked perfectly – big juicy tiger prawns cooked with snappy sugar peas.

The Sweet Vinegar Pork Belly Ribs – with chinese cabbage and lotus root, $23 was one of my favourite dishes, the pork belly was so tender it melts in your mouth, cooked in the beautiful ‘sweet & sour’ flavours of the sweet vinegar sauce.

I don’t usually order friend rice, but as there was a kwai low at the table, we order the Beggar’s Fried Rice – shredded duck,chicken and chinese sausage, $16.  After all the good food and drinks we are unfortunately too full to try dessert.

We are the last ones in the restaurant, my friends and I leave the place very full and thoroughly satisfied.  As we are leaving, the waiters were preparing the place for a mah-jong tournament being held the following afternoon.  The 137 mah-jong pieces lined up on the table like a piece of art.

You can learn how to play mah jong, an ancient and traditional Chinese game at MahJong Room every last Saturday of each month whilst eating dim sum.  A three-hour session (2 pm – 5 pm) and dim-sum costs $36 per person.

Mah Jong Room, 312 Crown St, Surry Hills, Sydney.
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