Award-winning Cuisine to Smile About
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Earning Hawaii’s Best honors typically serves up a pleasant surprise worthy of celebration.
However, after receiving the Star-Advertiser‘s annual People’s Choice Awards two weeks ago for offering both the Best Chinese Food and Best Dim Sum, Happy Days Chinese Seafood Restaurant owner Lisa Lum continues to beam with pride. As Happy Days approaches its 12th anniversary in August, Lum still smiles at the sight of satisfied customers enjoying a great meal.
And, judging from the bustling restaurant, where dim sum carts whirl around the room and the kitchen buzzes with excitement, loyal diners continue to flock to the eatery in search of their own Happy Days experience.
“The food is good, and people leave smiling — they always come back, and we’re very happy to have so many great customers,” Lum says. “They’re so nice, they’re like family. They feel very comfortable when they come here.”
Lum and co-owner Yung Sang Chan have been in the business locally for more than three decades, and the pair also runs Nice Day Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Liliha. The duo launched and operated the old Sea Fortune restaurant in Chinatown for 22 years, and after it closed, they opened Happy Days in 2001.
“We get old customers coming to this location now, as well as new customers,” says Lum of her loyal diners. “The people are so nice, from the aun-ties to the grandparents; they come over and over again.”
Located in Kaimuki at the corner of Waialae and 11th avenues, Happy Days offers a host of Hong Kong-style Chinese cuisine in a relaxed, family-style setting that features a full bar and private dining room. The restaurant is arranged as an open dining hall, and boasts bright-red lanterns, large sparkling chandeliers and iconic fish tanks that greet customers at the front door.
Happy Days is synonymous with stellar dim sum, with most offerings starting at $2.88 for three pieces, including pork hash, taro, baked manapua, shrimp with spinach, half moons, beef balls, char siu pie and chop suey cake — a mixture of char siu pork and chop suey noodles surrounded by a rich, flaky crust. The dim sum selections are available from the restaurant’s carts from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and can be ordered individually during dinner service.
After delving into the vast assortment of dim sum selections, one may choose from more than 250 entrees — many of which are priced at less than $10 — to enjoy individually or share family-style, including Chinese Chicken Salad ($8.95) and Beef with Broccoli ($9.95). Vegetarian options also are available, such as Eggplant with Tofu ($9.95).
Minute Chicken Cake Noodle ($9.95) is another longtime customer favorite, as the large bed of cake noodles is topped with a hearty helping of chicken and choy sum (Chinese cabbage) then bathed in an oyster sauce that brings all the flavors together.
Happy Days is home to a host of regular customers stopping in for a quick lunch, birthday celebration or family get together. Special dinner party menus are available for groups of 10, and range from $189 to $255, depending on the selections desired. The eatery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., making it the ideal location for a great meal anytime the mood strikes.
Additionally, Happy Days offers popular daily specials, including the Lunch Special ($8.95, available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), which comes with chicken salad, gon lo mein and five assorted dim sum selections. A dim sum carry-out special also is available daily from 8 to 11:30 a.m., during which customers receive 15 percent off orders when paying with cash, and 10 percent off with credit card transactions.
“Every time you’re hungry, you can come and enjoy!” says Lum.
Happy Days Chinese Seafood Restaurant
3553 Waialae Ave., Honolulu
Open daily, 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.