The Happy House
Nice name for a restaurant and I have to say we were all pretty happy when we left, so apt too. We took the kids to this fairly ordinary-looking joint in the Northcote enclave on a Friday night and were more than satisfied with our visit. Lot of things the children enjoyed, and plenty for us too.
It certainly wasn’t flash, but some attempt had been made with modern decor and actually, if it wasn’t for the harsh lighting and big glass front, it could have been kind of funky. We ordered the Pan fried Tofu with soy sauce ($15) Stir fried round beans and eggplant ($15) Pork Belly with chilli black bean sauce ($16.50), Spring Onion Pancake ($3) and the Deep Fried Squid with Pepper Salt ($16.80). A veritable feast for four for $16/head. Brilliant.
My favourite would have to have been the Pork Belly. Finer-than-finely sliced pork belly pan fried with black bean sauce, bamboo shoots, spring onions, celery and accented with dried red chillies. Great mix of freshness from the veggies; richness from the pork and sauce; and spice from the chillies. Not one element too overwhelming and all in good balance.
The beans and eggplant were a delight to the eyes and the tastebuds with beautiful bursts of vibrant violet coloured Asian eggplant punctuating the bright green beans. Another tasty dish with a garlicky savoury glaze. The tofu was okay but I probably wouldn’t order it again. The tofu itself was a bit watery and the skin not flavoured enough; we all know tofu on its own is pretty bland and this wasn’t getting enough of a boost from its fellow plate-mates (some delicious fine slices of pork and bamboo shoots).
The squid and pancake were devoured by our kids although I found the squid slightly salty – and that’s saying something as I’m a salt fiend – the pancakes were predictably reliable, just soft and just chewy enough all at the same time.
I would be keen to come back and try some more of the spicier Sichuan dishes. Happy House, Happy Family and Happy Friday night.