All is not as it seems within a dim glowing pink bodega on Dundas West. Past the neon nondescript storefront is Mahjong Bar, a secretive spot with killer cocktails and serious style. Mahjong also serves addicting small plates of Chinese dishes to curve the appetite.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Travis Platt Contributing writer
Pink hazy neon splashes on the sidewalk outside this unassuming bodega, the small space alive with an electric eeriness. If you made it this far, you’re very aware of what you’ve come searching for. Past the small cooler of assorted beverages lies a hideaway of killer cocktails fashioned in a 60’s styled tropical Hong Kong setting. This is the real-life set of your favorite Kung Fu classic, and the menu of vices delivers a roundhouse kick to pre-conceived notions of how drinks should be made in Toronto. So take a seat, and officially meet Mahjong Bar, an enthralling aesthetic you swear you can taste in the air before any ice hits your lips.
Mahjong continues to grow and take shape while exuding a feeling that it has been around for many decades.
Sphere illuminated light bounces off the black and white tiled floor while the century-old vintage bar of hand-selected spirits calls to the soul. Mahjong is the brainchild and concept of Josh LeBlanc, Emily Blake, Kyle Wong, and Andrew Perry who teamed up with design team Grey North. Pink marble collides with a 36-foot mural painted deep with jungle greens. Was pink afterglow made to pair with palm fronds? We can’t imagine it any other way once swallowed by Mahjong’s intoxicating allure.
It’s easy to remain hypnotized in Mahjong, so let’s hurry and get to the mixtures. For a glimpse into a past life, order up a Tame Impala Redux with Tequila, Mezcal, pressed ginger and lime. Strike some lightning with a Tropic Thunder, Coconut Soaked Rum, Pandam, lime, and pineapple. Or hit the cocktail on tap, the Steve McQueen, Wild Turkey Bourbon, Cynar and Dillon’s Vermouth. Whatever the decision, know the list here is simple, well thought and dialed in with bold savory and smoky flavors that finish with a funky twist. Beers and cider waterfall from 10 taps and if you’re in the mood for some vino, check out the list of thoughtfully chosen wines.
To curve an appetite, addicting small plates are dished out including wontons, skewers, and noodles. Slurp and crunch through a menu that without a doubt you will return over and over for. It doesn’t get much better than a bowl of Braised Beef Shanghai Noodles and a classic cold Coors Banquet.
A quick history lesson, Mahjong is a tile-based game developed in China in the Qing dynasty and has spread throughout the world since the early 20th century. It’s a game of tactics, observation, memory and adaptive strategies. This bar embodies each category aforementioned. Tactics can be seen through the intelligent details in any cocktail, observation lives within every aspect of the design, thus giving life to the atmosphere Toronto was craving. Memory can be found within the experience each owner carries from working in the industry. And lastly, adaptive strategies. Mahjong continues to grow and take shape while exuding a feeling that it has been around for many decades. To look at the bar scene as a game is then to truly understand, the team pulling the strings at Mahjong Bar is very, very good at the game, and will be on the leaderboard for sought-after drinks and vibrant atmosphere as long as Mahjong’s red glow bounces off its checkered floors.
Feast your eyes on the Cocktail and Food menu’s here
The 36-foot custom lacquered mural of palm fronds was painted by Toronto artist Gabriella Lo
Beyond the shaken concoctions, there are 10 taps of local beer and cider
Mahjong doesnt take reservations, so roll in early to grab a seat in the red lit, jaw dropping, retro aesthetic
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