Chef Max Tsang of Melbourne’s Mahjong has steered his restaurant of eight years into a new direction, a causal bar and dining venue aptly called Whatever by Mahjong.
Breaking away from Mahjong’s yum cha and dumpling focus, Whatever by Mahjong will feature a more regionally inspired menu inclusive of Xiao Chi (bits n pieces) that will be available all hours across the bar together with a menu showcasing the various provinces of China in the casual dining area.
Tsang says that China’s regional cooking has its own trademarks and variations, from the cold snacks, broths and soups of Fujian, to the garlic and smoky chilli flavours of the slow cooked dishes of Hunan, the peppery pungency and spices of the Szechuan province, the dark pastes and fermented tofu of Beijing, the noodles of Han Xi'an in the north, to the lighter dishes and flavours of Canton.
Together with small bites, the bar will offer cocktails with a Chinese flair such as the lychee and rum 'Buddah's Wife', and a cumquat mint Mojito.
Designer Wayne Finschi of Finschi PHD Interiors was the brainchild behind the design of the revamped venue which features large front windows looking out across Fitzroy St to Albert Park and new street-side furniture.
Finschi describes the new look as Chinese minimalism. Large black steel multi-framed room dividers separate the expansive main room into two zones – both decorated with a muted palette. The bar is now the focus and the décor features blond European oak woods, high polish raw concrete floors. White on white and greys are punctuated by black accents and luxe fixtures. The mahjong tiles of the past have been replaced by images of ‘hauntingly beautiful’ Asian faces.