Mahjong restaurant a hit in Sydney

Tucked away on a Sydney back street is a little slice of China, served on a plate.

by: Reuters | 02 Jul 2007

The MahJong Room is renowned for its authentic Cantonese cuisine, but one Saturday a month, the restaurant becomes a mahjong school, offering patrons a real Chinese experience.

Mahjong is a popular Chinese game for four players who have to build complete suits from either 13 or 16 tiles. The winning tile completes the player's set of either 14 or 17.

Restaurant owner William Hui introduced the "play lunch" concept to offer a window into traditional Chinese culture. To him, and many Chinese, mahjong is much more than just a game.

"Chinese weddings or birthdays always have people playing mahjong before the banquet. There is a strong connection between food and mahjong in the Chinese culture."

Hui opened MahJong five years ago with his business partner, who is also Chinese and who has been living in Australia for the past 20 years.

To give MahJong an authentic Chinese touch, Hui bought all the furniture from Shanghai in a bid to recreate a 1970s home.

The playing tables and chairs are made of Chinese bamboo, the wallpaper is an auspicious red, retro chandeliers hang from the ceilings and the walls are adorned with antique carvings. There are even toys from Hui's childhood.

The mahjong Saturdays have proved a hit with Sydneysiders, and tables are often booked solid, with a huge waiting list.

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