Mad for Mahjong

In this Arlington speakeasy, mahjong’s the name of the game.

(Photography by Mariah Miranda Photography)

There’s more than dim sum on the menu at Sparrow Room in Arlington. This speakeasy-style bar serving craft cocktails also doubles as a mahjong parlor. 

Mariah Miranda

Located in the back of Bun’d Up restaurant in Pentagon Row, Sparrow Room is the vision of chef Andrew Lo. “He grew up playing mahjong with his family after dinner service at their family restaurant in Kansas City,” says Claire Swift, general manager of Thank You Have a Nice Day Collective. “He taught our team how to play, and we decided we wanted to share the fun we were having with everyone else.”

Elegant, comfortable, and soaked in emerald green, Sparrow Room offers mahjong tables available by reservation. Wednesday mahjong classes sell out almost every week. And on Thursdays, happy hour features open-play mahjong. On the menu, Swift recommends turnip cake with Chinese sausage, daikon, and baby shrimp; char siu bao, milk bread with doubanjiang and pork belly; or for a larger plate, siu yuk, crispy pork belly with five spice salt and smoke. 

Cocktails include the mezcal-based White Tiger Milk Punch with oolong and sichuan and the Five Spice Fortune Manhattan with five spice rye, cherry sherry, vermouth, and Cynar, topped with pork belly.

Sparrow Room has been such a hit that owner Scott Chung is also working on a new casual, late-night concept for the space in front: Bun’d Up After Dark. SparrowRoom.com

Mariah Miranda

This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue.

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