New cafe in Bayside gives customers desserts with a side of mahjong

Photos of interior and exterior by Jenna Bagcal/QNS and dessert photos by Mahjong Cafe

A new dessert spot has just opened up on Bell Boulevard in Bayside offering up a range of sweets, coffee and tea with a free game of mahjong.

Justin Cheng, the owner of Mahjong Cafe located at 38-36 Bell Blvd., recently held the shop’s soft opening on Dec. 18 and its grand opening on Jan. 1, in time for the start of the new year.

Cheng said that he and his business partner Kai Lin were attracted to the relatively lower rent prices in Bayside as compared to other areas in Queens.

“A lot of places are too popular, like Flushing-Main Street, the rent is very high,” said Cheng.

He added that “a lot” of people live and work on Bell Boulevard, which was also a contributing factor for situating the cafe in a  location previously occupied by Bell Formal Tuxedos.

The owner and his family moved to the United States from China in 2007. Cheng shared that he has been baking for about three years and was also a barista for “five or six years” before opening the cafe.

Cheng and Lin make all of the desserts and drinks on the menu, which features more “Asian-style” products. Items include the popular mille crepe cakes flavored with green tea, mango and rose, milk puddings and fruit toast.

Drinks include several milk teas and coffees that Cheng learned to make from his days as a barista.

In the front righthand corner of the shop is a cozy mahjong corner where customers can sit down and play a game. Cheng also took the time to write the rules down for people who may be unfamiliar with the game.

Cheng shared that the popular Chinese tile game is one of his favorite pastimes and added that winning and losing is not important when it comes to mahjong.

“I would love to share the Chinese things [with] anyone who would love to learn or would love to know about it,” he said.

Mahjong Cafe is currently opened Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Check them out on Facebook or Instagram or call the store at 929-999-6996 for more information.

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