There is something really special about The Mahjong Room in Surry Hills. It's not your stock standard Chinese restaurant.
The decor is thoughtful and warm. There are no laminex tables or tissue boxes on the table. The dining room feels modern yet has a traditional "oriental feel" to it. The food is GREAT - traditional Chinese food (says the Aussie gal from the country town up North) with a clean, modern twist. It's 100% better than anything you'd ever eat at your local Chinese. For me it had that elusive "thing" that makes a restaurant feel welcoming...and wonderful (plus a meal deal voucher and you KNOW how much I love them).
Our meal kicks off with a never ending cup of tea, which is lovely on what has turned out to be a rather wet, and not-so-warm night.
The voucher deal includes four entrees of the restaurants choosing. They happily whip up some non-red meat/lamb/chicken options for us - I forget to mention my quirky eating habits when I made the booking. My Bad. I thought The Boy would be unhappy that his San Choi Bao come sans meat, but he loved the mix of finely diced vegetables, topped with crunchy noodles. The Steamed Scallops were lovely, fresh and light - and I loved the addition of enoki mushrooms to the garnish.
The poached Blue Swimmer Crab Gow Gee were sublime. Really meaty and flavoursome, and I loved the light broth the dumplings came submerged in (not a drop was left when the waiter came to collect the bowl).
The Boiled Vegetarian Dumplings held their own against the wonderful Crab Gow Gee. Filled with choy sum, black fungus, and pressed doufu (aka Tofu) they were hearty and packed with simple, yet delightful flavours. Again I slurped up every last drop of the broth.
Our first main was the delectable Tiger Prawns with Sugar Peas. The prawns and snow peas were wok fried in XO sauce (is that Chinese for Kiss Hug Sauce)? Really REALLY good. The Snow Peas were so fresh that they still had a wonderful crunch to every mouthful. The Steamed Fish of The Day (Barramundi) was cooked with ginger, shallot and chili came served on a bed of wonderfully soft, slippery (and really tasty) Tofu. Both of these mains were a winner in my book - and who knew Tofu could taste SO good?
Of course we have room for dessert. Who could say no to
Chocolate Banana Spring Rolls - with lychee ice cream. The Boy's eyes rolled back in his head when he bit into the Banana Spring Roll - that good huh Mister? I loved the lychee ice cream, slightly tart yet sweet at the same time.
I haven't been to Billy Kwong's or Spice Temple yet, but I imagine that The Mahjong Rooms take on Chinese food is quite similar to theirs. Clean, simple, modern cooking techniques and ingredients that really highlight what good food is all about - just not quite as expensive as those places. It's a modern take on Chinese food and I loved it. LOVED it!
The Mahjong Room is at 312 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Telephone 02 9361 3985.