To ring in the Year of The Wood Dragon in style, the culinary mind behind some of Sydney’s best Asian eateries, Dan Hong, and Crazy Rich Asians actor Remy Hii, have joined forces for a modern luxe rendition of an age-old tile game at the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Mahjong Club.
Taking over Merivale’s Bridge Street icon, Est. for one day only on Saturday 17 February, the iconic duo invite Sydneysiders to celebrate Lunar New Year by trying their hand at the fast-paced tile game. In between tournaments led by a local mahjong master, guests can enjoy an auspicious menu of reimagined delicacies made with Hong’s modern fusion flair and bespoke Johnnie Walker Blue Label-infused cocktails.
Amid a blue-washed space fusing Est.’s classic architecture with contemporary Chinese design, Hong will delight game-players with six bite-sized dishes designed to break free from the traditional sit-down banquet, and to instead be enjoyed one-handed while sipping on Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
Crustaceans – which represent wealth – are transformed into moorish King Crab & Scallop potsticker dumplings alongside Rock Lobster Bao with ginger and shallot. Prawn toast gets a luxe makeover with melt-in-your-mouth otoro tuna belly and finger lime, while the Hot & Numbing Wagyu Skewer is sure to leave diners craving more. There’s also a showstopping modern play on longevity noodles with the Chilled Truffled Noodle with Caviar and, to end on a sweet note, Hong’s version of a Hong Kong-style Warm Egg Tart.
To pair with Hong’s indulgent menu and bring out the smooth flavours of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Merivale mixologist, Jonathan Liu has designed a trio of unique cocktails infused with popular flavours from across the Asian continent. Highball lovers will enjoy the Hi-Prosperity – a tall, refreshing tipple featuring notes of ginger, yuzu, and chrysanthemum – while those with a sweet tooth can try the Blue Wishes, which sees Johnnie Walker Blue Label infused with apple and rose honey, and topped with champagne. Finally, Peace and Peaches take Scotch to the next level with clarified coconut milk, peach and pandan.
Of his approach to the refreshingly unexpected menu, Hong said, “I have vivid memories of growing up watching my friend’s mum play mahjong and spending Lunar New Year with my family, surrounded by food. The menu I’ve created for the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Mahjong Club pays homage to those memories and traditions, and the ingredients that have important cultural symbolism around Lunar New Year, but each with a fresh new twist – a modern makeover and a few extra extravagant touches.”
“For me Lunar New Year is all about getting together with family and friends, enjoying delicious food and each other’s company. That’s why I’m so excited to be hosting the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Mahjong Club. Mahjong is such an important game in Chinese culture, I’m thrilled to be inviting Sydneysiders to an experience where they can connect with their own loved ones and with other players, whether it’s over a game, a bowl of noodles or a Scotch,” adds host, Remy Hii.
The launch of the Mahjong Club coincides with the release of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Lunar New Year, Year of the Dragon, a limited-edition bottle designed in collaboration with Asian-American artist, James Jean. Emulating the expert craft behind the incredible layers of flavour in every drop of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Jean’s artwork of a mythical dragon, interwoven and layered with botanical elements, echoes the visceral flavour experience of this exceptional Scotch.
Kate McGraw, Diageo National Whisky Ambassador, adds: “A symbol of life and creativity, James Jean’s depiction of the vibrant dragon and colourful flora and fauna are a wonderful reflection of the complex spice, vanilla and caramel notes that roll through a sip of Johnnie Walker Blue Label while the fiery haze surrounding the dragon provides a subtle nod to the Scotch’s luxuriously long, smoky finish.”
Whether it’s for a beginner’s lesson in mahjong, an opportunity to connect over a cultural food moment or an elegant way to say ‘cheers’ to Year of The Dragon, the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Mahjong Club is set to have Sydneysiders celebrating Lunar New Year in style. Seatings are available exclusively for one day only.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Mahjong Club
Est., Level 1/252 George Street, Sydney
Saturday 17 February 2024
1:30pm – 9:00pm