Restaurant: Happy Table [1, 2]
Location: 203 West Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA. (626) 872-6677
Date: June 8, 2019
Cuisine: Northern Chinese
Four years ago I last went to Happy Table, where it had replaced New Bay and before it Sham Tsem. Usually I would merge the meals but this was significantly different, and a peculiar service experience, so I’m writing it up as its own meal.
Front looks the same, minus the new sign.
We had half the big private room, which was fine given our 13 — which somehow managed to fit at the table!
From my cellar: NV Drappier Champagne Rosé Brut Nature Dosage Zero. VM 90. Pale orange. Mineral-accented red berries and citrus fruits on the nose, complemented by hints of candied rose and white pepper. Stony and precise, offering lively strawberry and orange zest flavors that expand slowly with air. Closes spicy, stony and tight, with very good clarity and floral persistence.
Jellyfish heads and cucumber (marinated). Delicious. Nice bit to the jellyfish, great crunch to the cucumber, good vinegar flavor.
Peppers stuffed with pork. Pretty nice too.
Bean curd salad with cucumber. Refreshing.
From my cellar: 2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly Cuvée Nicholas et Mathis. 93 points. Pale gold with citrine highlights. Pungent nose of extremely overripe stonefruit with an underlying citrus/mineral aroma. Tart citrus zest, dark wildflower honey, wax & crushed shell. Well rounded and versatile.
Live crab (now dead) with garlic. A slightly dry prep.
Shrimp with garlic and glass noodles. Nice.
Tea smoked goose. A touch dry, but meaty. A cold cut.
Pork with sea cucumber. Great dish. Both pork and sea cucumber was very good, but not as good as the sea cucumber the other night at Shanghai #1 Seafood.
Crispy beef. I’ve always liked this dish. We ordered 2.
BBQ lamb chops. This was their signature dish and it was fabulous. Juicy, tons of cumin flavor. Sizzling. 4 sauces. We ordered a second. Really great.
Roast duck. Kinda like the goose, but duck and less dry.
Cumin lamb. Given how great the BBQ lamb was, this dish sucked. Off flavors and salty.
Fish boiled in chili sauce. Classic Szechuan dish. Not much mala. Fish itself was good. And it was decently hot. But it didn’t have that hot numbing flavor that it should.
Spicy Chicken (or was it rabbit?). Pretty good.
Pork belly with preserved vegetables. Hunan dish. Actually quite delicious, if a touch salty.
Mapo tofu. Not bad, but not really Szechuan at all. No mala.
Pork meat balls. Polarizing, but I loved them.
Chicken cartilage skewers. Pretty good, but some complained of no meat. lol noobs.
Lamb skewers. Great. Much like the BBQ lamb.
Beef skewers. Tougher. Fine, but not awesome like the lamb.
Maybe this was the rabbit. Can’t remember.
3 flavor dumplings. Very nice boiled dumplings.
Eggs with pork and preserved vegetables. There is a first time for everything. I took a bite and it was so distgusting, so salty, that I spit it out. Foul. Nasty. Never had a dish this bad in the SGV.
Blackberry Mango Amaro Sorbetto! — like a frozen aperitivo — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — although I do need to improve at decorating in the Pozzetti –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #mango #blackberry #amaro
Chess Chocolate Oreo Gelato — Valrhona medium chocolate base with layers of Valrhona Ivoire white chocolate ganache and crumbled Oreos — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #cheesecake #chocolate #valrhona #WhiteChocolate #oreo #chess
Peanut Chocolate Caramel Ganache Reese’s Gelato -Sweet Peanut Base with house-made Valrhona Chocolate Caramel Ganache and mini Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — the ganache is delicious but the 80% Valrhona I used swamps out the caramel — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #peanut #reeses #peanutbuttercup #ganache #Valrhona
Overall Happy Table’s food was a touch weird. I’m not even sure what region it really is, but the Northern and Szechuan dishes were pretty good (although I’ve had better). The Seafood and more Cantonese dishes were so-so. I guess it’s a north west (Chinese) restaurant. Some dishes were great, like the lamb chops and some loathsome like the egg with salty vegetables. Many in the middle.
Service was just laughable. I’ve been to the SGV hundreds of times and China several times and am very used to Chinese service standards. This was among the worst I’ve ever had. There was only one guy who spoke English, and all the others left us to him. He was nice, but so over worked we had to keep hunting him down. He pretty much avoided taking our order for 30 minutes straight. They brought the food to the table fast enough (on ordering) but there was basically no bussing. We kept moving empty plates ourselves out onto another table. I was raiding the main floor of the resteraunt for napkins, chopsticks, glasses, whatever. It was hilarious.
But the whole meal, with a big tip was $36 a person. Get a load of that!
For more LA Chinese dining reviews click here.
or more crazy Hedonist dinners here!