Happy Noodle Has Hardly Any Noodle Dishes But They Have Lots of Dumplings and Shan Dong Food
Lower Azusa Road is out of my normal coverage range, but I like to drive by Lower Azusa Road and El Monte Ave. every so often because each time I go there's an interesting new Chinese restaurant at that location. That's actually a case of good news/bad news, since there have been some nice specialty or regional restaurants there in the past and it's sad to see them go. Prior occupants at 4815 El Monte Ave. included a herbal Chinese restaurant, and the biblically named Five Loaves and Two Fish Chinese Restaurant, and most recently Surprise Chinese Restaurant. On the other hand, new restaurants are interesting to explore. In the case of the latest occupant, Happy Noodle, perhaps the most obvious thing as to the menu is that there are only a handful of noodle dishes. Predominating the menu instead are a number of dumpling, pancake and Shan Dong stuffed buns, with also a good number of cold dishes. The menu only has a dozen or so true entrees. The fish dumplings were good, not great, though I did like the fact that fish was minced finer than any other fish dumplings I can recall. Next time I think I'll try the beef roll or the tofu roll, but I'll pass on the "Lamp Dumplings" and the "Pork Stickers."
4815 El Monte Ave, Temple City, CA 91780
I have been to Happy Noodle three times now and will be returning soon. First, I want to say that the portions are larger than any other dumpling / noodle place I have been to. Combine that with a reasonable price per item and the good flavors that come out the kitchen and that explains the large number of people filling the dinning room every time I have gone there. The owner told me that they have been open about two months now and are doing well. It must be all by word-of-mouth.
Among the noodle dishes I have tried are Palace Hele Noodles Soup and the Chicken Chow Mein. The soup came in a large bowl filled with noodles just as ipsedixit described them above, “round and very chewy.” I think this is a lo mein style noodle – thick. On top of the noodles waiting for you to mix into a soup are small diced cubes of pork and vegies. The flavor is very good. They have several dishes of Chow Mein which are not on the main menu but are listed on a separate menu — ??? Anyway, The flavor of the Chow Mein is Big City IMO. I could be happy with just these noodles and the sauce they fry them in. The chewy texture was perfect for a Chow Mein dish. There was a respectable amount of chicken which was good although I would have liked it to be more tender (Which I have never found in any Chow Mein dish anyplacee).
I have tried three dumplings – Shrimp/pork, beef/celery and lamb. The size of these dumplings and the flavor, in relation to the price, make them IMO the best dumplings in the SGV. They just might be twice the size as many dumplings at other places. The flavors of the pork and beef are profound yet the taste does not stay in your mouth all night (know what I mean?). The beef dumplings are actually savory with a little of the beef juices inside the wrapper. Again, I want to point out that these are larger than most and that point is underscored by the fact that I traveled with the beef/celery dumplings for 15 minutes before I ate them. The size/amount of the beef inside was large enough to hold the heat for the ride – they were still hot! If you popped one of these into your mouth at the table, fresh out of the steamer, you would get a sever burn. The flavor of the beef was my favorite dumpling. Dumplings are priced between $5.95 and $6.50 for ten of them.
One of the house specialities is the “Pork Shao Bing.” At $1.50 this is a very good food deal. The flavor of the pork patty inside is perfect and just thick enough to make it a small meal on its own. The bun is also very flavorful and the pork juices add just the right amount of flavorful moisture to the bottom of the bun to make for a great pork sandwich, or “Chinese Hamburger” as the owner jokingly said about it. The House Specialities size is about the size of a regular burger but the Shan Dong Stuffed bun selections (between $5.95 and $6.50 for a dish of eight of them) are smaller – like sliders.
A very good find Chandavkl.
Oh ya, for a sweet snack after eating at Happy Noodle fly-thru the Driftwood dairy at the corner. Get some snow balls and some milk at a Classic Googie Drive-thru. Also check out the Driftwood street sign -- out of this world!
4815 El Monte Ave (just North of the corner at Lower Azuza Rd.)
Temple City, CA 91780
Driftwood Dairy (Great milk and snacks)
10724 Lower Azusa Rd
El Monte, CA 91731-1390
Cross St, El Monte Ave. At the North end of the El Monte Airport. About two blocks West of Santa Anita Ave. Eight blocks East of Baldwin just past the old In-n-Out #3, about a block away.
Their dumplings are very mediocre - flabby skins and bland fillings. The shenzheng boas, however, are very well done - a bit greasy sometimes but are generally so well executed that you wonder why anyone would ever steam boas.
Noodle dishes are very good; although have never tried the chow mein.
We disagree about the dumplings. The wrappers at Happy Noodle do not have that crappy steamed pasta flavor that most of the dumplings at the popular places have. The fillings are very good and come in large amounts. The beef/celery is very good. The shrimp/pork are likewise good but the flavor stays with you longer but not for hours like so many other places. The Lamb is less strong. None of the wrappers are flabby but rather they are chewy just like the noodles with a nice flavor.
We agree about the noodles -- very good. Next time I will try the shrimp chow mein.
IMO, the flavors, large serving size and reasonable prices is what puts this place on the map.The one time I sat outside in my car while waiting for takeout I noticed that every group that walked out the door after eating their dinner carried boxes of food and had smiles on their faces. That is my kind of place.
Tried this place today.
Great noodle dishes. They use pre-made "hand-pulled" noodles that are round and very chewy. What udon would be like if it started to lift weights and workout.
The shenzheng boas were also very good, a bit oily, but well-formed, with good texture and taste.
Thanks for the heads-up, Chandavkl.
As you probably already know, in Mandarin the word for noodle (¨mien¨) can also refer to any flour-based food item kneaded into dough (e.g. dumplings, baozi), and not just noodles, per se. I´m guessing the proprietors literally translated the ¨mien¨ into ¨noodle¨ when naming the joint.
In any case, it´s worth checking out. ¡Gracias!