The Happy Meal DestinationColumns What's for Lunch?
March 9, 2014
Story By: Rachel Breit | Photos by: Rachel Breit
For many, Happy Days Chinese Restaurant is a home away from home. Customers drive as far as Mililani and Pearl City to the Kaimuki eatery for the familiar fare. “Customers tell us we are like family,” says owner Lisa Lum. In addition to the warm welcome, customers can expect “good food at a good price,” says Lum of the large shareable portions.
One such dish — or dishes — to share are dim sum, the ubiquitous dumplings and bite-sized offerings found at just about every Chinese restaurant. Shu Mai ($3.10) is a standard. So what makes it worth the drive? The flavor, of course.
Or, rather, the lack of one specific flavor. The dumplings, hand-made with ground pork and shrimp, are a best-seller — and for good reason.
At Happy Days, customers appreciate the extra step cooks take towards balancing the flavors. The pork is ground on-site and rinsed with water to wash it “so it’s very clean,” says Lum. Black mushrooms in the minced mix also add a touch of flair.
Shredded iceberg lettuce and carrots meet another lean meat in Chicken Salad ($9.95). Dressed with sesame seed oil and seasoning, and topped with won ton strips, the salad is “healthy and light.” The chicken is first deep-fried whole to lock in moisture, then shredded for the salad.
Not a salad, but with a generous portion of vegetables nonetheless, is Mini Chicken Cake Noodle ($10.95). So go on, have your cake and eat it too.
Boiling then pan-frying the noodles results in texture that’s both crunchy and tender, ideal for smothering with savory toppings. In the case of this dish, strips of chicken and bok choy are stir-fried with garlic and oyster sauce, then added to a bed of cake noodles that hungrily soak up the sauce.
Feeling like paying “home” a visit? Then make the trip. Happy Days is clearly more than just “a comfortable place to sit.”
Happy Days Chinese Restaurant
3553 Waialae Ave.
Daily, 8 a.m.-10:30 p.m.