[Hong Kong] Happy Paradise - Retro Cha Chaan Teng
Rating: ❤❤❤1/2 (3.5/5)
After Little Bao and Second Draft, the newly crowned Asia's Best Female Chef May Chow recently opened up her newest creation Happy Paradise which looks like a cross between an old-school cha chaan teng and a retro disco with super colorful and funky fluorescent lighting. The food served here is classic Cantonese dishes with a twist while the cocktails are Asian-inspired as well - try the Durian Painkiller if you dare! Located inconspicuously up a flight of stairs on Aberdeen Street, the restaurant is walk-ins only but luckily there were still plenty of seats when I arrived with a friend at 7pm on a Friday night.
I got the refreshing Unbeatable Conman ($98) with cynar, honey, grapefruit, mint and lemon to start for cocktails and it turned out to be surprisingly good - very well-balanced and not too strong! My friend is a durian lover and wanted to try the Durian Painkiller but we were told that the taste would be very heavy and best saved until after we have finished eating.
The food menu is short and sweet with appetizers, small plates and big plates to choose from. The Slow-cooked Chicken ($328) with glutinous rice wine, shaoxing, and Chrysanthemum came highly recommended and it turned out to be pretty darn good especially with the addition of mushroom broth which was totally an umami bomb! The chicken was also very smooth and tender as well - I can see why everyone recommends this dish here.
The Char Siu with Silky Egg and Rice ($178) came with a jar of lard to drizzle on the rice as you please but the the price was a bit hard to swallow when there are better versions of it out there for a fraction of the price. The flavor of the char siu was actually decent but thinner and leaner than usual - it just wasn't worth the price for me.
We got the Celtuce with Sesame and Chili ($75) as our vegetables for the night and this turned out to be a nice surprise as the flavor combinations were refreshingly creative.
Verdict - Happy Paradise is definitely a fun restaurant not to be missed by those who wants Cantonese food with cocktails. I'm not too keen on the high prices but those who have been to May Chow's other ventures will be used to it. The food is actually pretty good and creative though so I wouldn't mind coming back to try more dishes on the menu.
52-56 Staunton Street, Central
Tel: +852 2816 2118https://www.facebook.com/happyparadisehk/
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