Mahjongg Cafe Review
UPDATE 2013: Now CLOSED 🙁
The word ‘Portside’ never used to bother me. It’s just a funny little place with a cinema, a few shops, and half a dozen restaurants. It also had the Coffee and Chocolate Affair the other weekend. The one with the chocolate strawberries. And the Lindt fountains. And caffeine everywhere. The one that I didn’t attend. Are you seeing where I’m going with this? Now, I hear ‘Portside’ and I have to fight back tears-tears of anger and frustration, as I missed out on the celebration of the glorious cocoa bean.
Luckily I had a lovely meal there the other week, so at least I’ve got some happy memories to fall back on. Mumsy and I (I swear I go out with other people. It was my birthday, alright. Anyway, Momma T rocks) ventured out to the Hamilton establishment for a movie. I thought we’d have no problems finding a place for lunch, but the pickings are slim. Chez Laila seemed to be the only ‘nice’ place that wasn’t hugely expensive.
We finally settled with Mahjongg Cafe, and were pleasantly surprised with the extensive menu. There’s something to cater for all budgets and tastes, from $6 (ham and cheese croissant) to $20 (bouillabaisse). The humble sandwich is offered, as well as gourmet pies, salads, soup, tapas, and heavier dishes like pork belly and duck a l’orange. A place with such a wide-ranging menu can often be lacking in consistent quality, but patrons have nothing to fear here.
There was no way I was going to eat something as boring as a sanga on my birthday, so we decided to share the tapas plate. For $24, it was pretty good value. Little dishes of creamy fetta, plump juicy olives, chicken, baby octopus, roasted vegetables, smoked salmon, ham, and chorizo came served with three massive slices of the softest white bread. This bread was so fluffy and fresh. I wanted to lie down on it and take a little nap and have carb-loaded dreams.
The chorizo was a bit too chewy for my liking, but had a peppery flavour that gave it a good overall taste. The smoked salmon and ham were quite standard, but the chicken was a standout. Although it seemed an odd inclusion on a tapas plate, it was worth it; marinated in an Asian-style coriander and lime sauce, it was tender and some of the best chook I’ve had in ages. Also tasty was the melt-in-your-mouth baby octopus-my only complaint is that we only got two of these guys. Vegies included roasted capsicum and eggplant, and were tasty and not too oily.
Service was excellent at Mahjongg; our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. Mumsy ordered a glass of Riesling, and he came back over and asked if she’d prefer a dry or sweet version. Little touches like that, combined with table service, are always nice at lunch and make a casual meal a bit more special. The ambiance is also lovely; in fact, we had originally by-passed the place because we thought it looked too nice and would be too expensive. There’s lots of indoor and outdoor seating, but try to avoid the tables that are oddly right outside a shop next door.
My only really complaint was the price of non-alcoholic drinks; a pot of tea was more expensive than coffee, and a beer was only $1 more than a latte. Mahjongg also do desserts-I saw a massive chocolate concoction at the table next to me and openly stared, like a mad woman. What is it with this place and chocolate?
39 Hercules st
(07) 3630 2151
Open seven days from 8am for breakfast and lunch
Open for dinner Wednesday-Saturday