Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Family

Happy Family does make families happy, everybody that goes to them and knows them that is. Happy Family is a very new restaurant located in what was once known as May Garden at 1400 Bristol St. Costa Mesa (telephone 714-668-9288). They serve a Buddhist, vegetarian, taiwanese fusion version of Chinese food. My dad said after going for the first time "it was almost good enough to make me vegetarian." The first time we went we avoided the fake tofu substitute meats like mock duck and mock chicken, but the second time we had to give in and we were pleasantly surprised. If you have been to Taipei, you know about Buddhist vegetarian Chinese cuisine, but if you haven't, this style of Chinese cooking is very delicious, based on Northern Chinese cuisine, with its hearty mantou or or steamed breads. Mantou are called Fried Bread on the menu is a a Northern Chinese classic and it is very good. Home style tofu was my personal favorite. My mom liked the deep fried oyster mushrooms and chicken with mushrooms. If you like Kung Pao Chicken, you'll enjoy the veggie version. The two greens we had were very good. Snow pea tops are our favorite, but they ran out the second time we were there so we had stir fried chinese romaine lettuce. It's called "A-cai" AY TSAI. if you want to order it. In other reviews that aren't as good as this one, they claim that the lotus flowers are great, but me and my parents did not like them. However, if you are a newcomer to this restaurant, they are a must try. The food is well spiced, light and balanced. According to Buddhist cuisine, garlic and onions make people quick to anger, so they are not used. You wouldn't know it though, because the dishes are so varied and savory. We ordered hot and sour soup on our first visit and tofu and glass noodle soup on our second visit. If you want to eat like the Chinese, never skip soup with your meal. You won't be disappointed by Happy Family's selection. This restaurant is also a GREAT deal. Everything is very reasonably priced. The two problems that we encountered were -- very slow service and not very special atmosphere. They are renovating the restaurant, so we hope for improvements soon. They don't serve alcohol, but my mom asked if we could bring our own, and the owners said that wouldn't be a problem. Excellent dumplings! Please give them your business. They are close to Irvine and really serve a very distinctive and authentic not to mention healthy Chinese food.