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Published November 9th 2014
A game of skill, chance and luck
Not just a quirky wall decoration
A day at the St Kilda Beach was going to include kite flying, fishing off the pier, fish and chips on the beach and a trek to Ackland St for some decadent cakes. But it all turned to mush when the wind whipped up and sand blasted our legs.
What better reason to seek refuge in a quiet, stylish Chinese restaurant that serves modern Asian and Cantonese cuisine? In our escape from the beach and the bustling end of the Fitzroy Street strip we arrived before 6, so I suppose that accounts for the fact that we were the only customers and why we received special personalised service.
Distinctive interior and service
As soon as you walk into the Mahjong restaurant you know it's not just another Chinese joint. Inflated Mah-jong tiles are a novel decorative feature, as are the lacquered emperor red room dividers. The interior design and music is upbeat and classy. I wish I'd asked the significance of the name of the restaurant. I can only imagine from my non-Asian understandings of the game.
Mahjong (AKA Shanghai or Mahjong Solitaire) is a solitaire style game that uses a set of mahjong tiles instead of playing cards. The tiles are believed to have first originated in 500BC. In Mahjong Solitaire, 144 tiles are arranged in a distinctive pattern often in the shape of a turtle. The aim of the game is to match pairs of identical tiles and remove them from the board. You cannot select a tile that has a tile on both sides (left and right). The game is completed when every pair of tiles has been taken from the board. Adapted from Free Mahjong.
Mahjong is a game of skill, chance and luck. It has endured time and given many millions of people hours of pleasure. Herein lies a hint of the name of this Modern Asian and Yum Cha restaurant.
For those wondering - the yellow is chicked
The Mahjong had been highly recommended for its yum cha and we went with this intention. The Yum Cha Set menu ($39) includes assorted steamed dumplings, spring rolls, sesame prawn toast, calamari, chicken ribs and steamed vegetables.
If you are not sure what to order they suggest leaving it to them. Order the Mahjong Signature Bring It On set menu at $59 per person and the chef will bring you a selection of Mahjong's signature dishes.
Lightly battered calamari
We decided to create our own banquet. From our selection we chose different favourites. My pick was the Mahjong handpicked dumpling platter (10 pieces). It is served in a bamboo steamer and irresistible especially if you like seafood. The sticky rice in lotus leaf ($9.90) with mushrooms and Chinese sausage was also a novel change. Not surprisingly one of the kids picked the fried rice ($11.90) as their favourite. It was full of prawns and other seafood.
Delicious vegetarian spring rolls, fried rice and spring onion pancakes
The deep fried spring onion pancake ($6.90) was another favourite we have never tried before. Both the steamed and stir fried vegetable dishes were colourful, crisp and cooked to perfection.
Colorful vegetable and tofu stir fry
So, unlike Mahjong the game, the restaurant is sure to be a winner for all members of the family. If you like modern Asian food this is a pretty safe bet.