Old School Chinese at Mahjong Room

ITC WelcomHotel recently opened a specialty Chinese restaurant called Mahjong Room, and a lunch there a couple weeks ago made for a delightful afternoon, what with the pretty interiors, the fun company, and the old school Chinese offerings. With an eeye to reminding us of childhood Chinese dining, Mahjong takes the old favorites out for a spin and adds some new touches, in a fine dine ambience. The Chefs and team have taken pains to bring an amalgam of Chinese dishes from regions known for their spicier food, like Sichuan and Hunan, and Canton, to suit the Indian palate. Literally every one of us at the table was moved to reminisce about going out to eat to a nice Chinese restaurant with parents and family!

Now as anyone who knows me, or reads the blog knows, I have a particular soft spot for Chinese cuisine – it is my comfort food, more so than Indian. In fact, my “Swiggy Memories” mail pointed out that it was wonton soup and noodles that featured rather heavily and very regularly, in my order list! So having a new restaurant that pays homage to the meals of our youth alongside offering comfort and staple flavors, is definitely on my winning list!

We began our meal a delightful, old school Sichuan Hot and Sour Soup, along with Crunchy Corn Kernals served in a edible cup, Crispy Lotus Stem with Sesame, Golden Fried Prawns (my absolute childhood fav!!) and Sichuan Chilli Pepper Chicken. This was followed by dimsum – an outstanding Chicken and Onion Sui Mai and Shrimp Har Gao. We also ordered some of the restaurant’s signature cocktails and were served a Butterfly Pea tea (that cool blue liquid that turns purple when you add some lemon!) along with our meal. Needless to say some amount of fullness was already being felt, and our mains had not even made an appearance!

Now the mains is where Mahjong Room’s food really shines – whether it was the vegetarian offerings of Ma Po Tofu with Black Bean and Chili Flakes and the Double Fried Beans with Mushrooms and Pickled Chilies – two dishes we would have all liked to continue dabbing our forks into if only space had allowed; or the Cantonese Lamb, Hot and Spicy Hunan Prawns and brilliant Gong Bao Chicken Dry Chili with Cashews. I know I will be heading back there so I can order just the beans and mushroom dish and the chicken with a side of their Lotus Leaf Wrapped Jasmine rice, and enjoy them fully!

Now whatever else you do or don’t do, you absolutely must leave ample space for dessert. Alongside the typical offerings of darsan and ice cream, date pancakes and all, Mahjong Room has a few boozy sundaes (but they are also available sans the alcohol) that are heavenly. The Hot Chocolate Cookie over Fudge was good, but it was the tart and coconutty, tropical paradise evoking Passion Coconut Lime Shortcake (tender coconut and passion fruit ice creams, sour lime drizzle, dry apricot compote) that elicited a series of oohs and aahs and the clashing of dessert spoons. The addition of a coconut liquor was rather literally the icing on the cake! Come to think of it, I might even just head back for some Butterfly Pea tea and dessert, next time I’m in that area!

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Details: Mahjong Room is open for lunch and dinner, and a meal for two will set you back around INR 2000 plus taxes. They offer both set and a la carte menus.

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Shizusan Shophouse and Bar – eat, drink and be merry!

Whitefield is far, really far, from Jayanagar. But in keeping with my personal mantra of  ‘will travel for good food’ there are times when Whitefield becomes appealing. Shizusan Shophouse and Bar, located in Phoenix Market City is one of those instances. A Pan Asian eatery with a vibrant, colorful decor (in keeping with the Shophouse in its name), indoor and outdoor seating, and a vast menu of dishes from all across Asia, as well as interesting cocktails, this is a must-visit. The dishes are all beautiful to look at, many paying homage to classic Asian fare, with a twist to make it Shizusan’s own.
One Sunday a couple months ago, the food family planned a combined afternoon of merrymaking and eating, and it turned into a delightful and boisterous time of much food and drink and fun. Here’s a pictorial journey of our meal, which was indeed vast, and more than even our group of 6 could consume! And to think we probably ended up tasting less than half the menu!

Some of what we drank
The drinks menu, like all the other sections, holds a lot of offerings, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, including a selection of Asian beers and Japanese whisky. Asian favorites like Iced Teh Tahrik, Iced Vietnamese Coffee, and Iced Milo Milkshake make an appearance, as well as hot and cold Asian teas. The cocktails are eclectic and will require revisiting!
Left: GinSing in the tall glass; Sriracha Blush with black salt rim.
Right: Cocky Rooster, was my drink of the day. A twist on a classic Bloody Mary, with serious spice and potency!

Starting Right
We began with sensational Edamame (with two different toppings of Himalayan Pink Salt and Shichimi or Garlic and Sriracha) and Dimsum including Prawn and Chives, Moneybags, Edamame Petit Pois, Poached Chicken Dumplings, and Crystal Vegetables.

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Sushi-Time!
We happened to visit, coincidentally, on World Sushi Day. And what a pretty array of sushi (L: Rainbow Maki; R: Nigiri) it was! However, we found the taste didn’t quite match up, but sushi not being the easiest find in Bangalore, these will do the job.

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Some Standouts

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Above: Black Pepper Lobster with roasted garlic, spring onions, mushrooms, peppercorns.
Below: Mussels in a lemongrass and coconut cream – heaven! And zesty Salt and Pepper Calamari with a fab aji amarillo chilli dip.

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The Mains
Although getting rather stuffed at this point we couldn’t but order a few different dishes off the mains. In addition to what was pictured above, we also tried some Satays and a crisp and light Asian Watermelon Salad with diced melon, radish, Feta cheese, and almond and mint in a soy-chilli-garlic dressing.
The minced Chicken Kaprow (left) took me back to eating in Bangkok, and you definitely shouldn’t miss out on the Kung Pao Calamari if you like squid. The Green Beans and Mushrooms were really good too, and while it mayn’t seem like it from this post, there are tons of vegetarian options, as well as noodles and rice items to choose from.

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Kung Pao Calamari – a must order

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Sweet Ending
There was no way we would end the meal without trying a couple of the signature desserts, and since we were a large enough group, a couple bites each and we did justice to them. Vietnamese Banh Chuoi Nuong, a chocolate and banana cake, and the Tender Coconut Cheesecake were both hits, and there were so many more I would have liked to try! This was truly one of those memorable and comforting meals filled with goodness from across South East Asia…

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Details: Shizusan Shophouse and Bar, Phoenix Market City; Whitefield; INR 2500++ for a meal for two