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Happy Family in Monterey Park -- what to get?

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My (vegan) friend is putting together a 100-mile bike ride with stops at 3 restaurants along the way. He wants to get AYCE Chinese vegetarian at Happy Family.

For my part, AYCE is just about the last thing I want at mile 40 of a century, but it sounds like Happy Family has a non-AYCE option. Can some people order AYCE and others just order some regular dishes and split them? Or does everybody at a table have to order AYCE together?

Also, what are their memorable dishes? Ideally I'd like something with lots of carbs. Noodles, of course, is a no-brainer; but is there anything they do especially well?

And one last question: we'll probably be arriving there Sunday at around 11 or noon. Are we going to be able to get in the door?

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  1. fried oyster mushrooms and deep fried mushrooms (aka orange chicken) are a must

    FWIW I find Vege Gourmet to be less salty/MSG laden than Happy Family.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      I'm not a vegetarian myself, but I do really enjoy this restaurant. I don't care so much for the AYCE menu, however. I usually just order a few dishes off the regular menu and then try to finish them because I haven't had good luck with reheating. The "fish" dishes are so good. And yes about the mushrooms, incredibly delicious. I'd eat here all the time if it weren't so expensive. I tend to stuff myself and then be in a stupor afterwards. The last time I went I was in such a food coma that I closed my finger in the car door when I got home. GAH.

      1. re: khh1138

        yes, the fried oyster mushrooms/button mushrooms need to be eaten there. Do not try to take these home.

    2. You can't split up AYCE and non-AYCE.

      Mustard greens with tofu skin, fish, braised tofu with scallops, minced squab lettuce cups.

      I've avoid the noodle dishes (too greasy). The fried bread ("ying-tse jweng") is pretty addictive.

      No problems with lines Sunday lunch.

      1. Reporting back:
        We decided to skip the AYCE and just order off the regular menu, which was a wise choice.

        The fried mushrooms and "orange chicken" were acceptable, though both were syrupy-sweet. The "spare ribs" were forgettable; mostly breading. We had a couple people who didn't want fishy stuff, so we skipped the seafood dishes. The plain old stir-fried vegetables (dry-cooked string beans, eggplant with basil) were probably my favorite; if I were to go back I'd just order those.

        For fake-meat-style vegan cooking, the food was pretty good. But for a meat-eater, it can't compete with some of the other offerings in the area; I certainly wouldn't go back if I were on my own.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bjartmarr

          i generally avoid the fake meat and get the vegetable dishes.

          can't remember the number, but there is one spicy dish that i love: its is made with tons of fresh ginger, fermented black beans and pickled turnips.
          for a milder dish, i like their bean curd sheets with chopped mustard greens.

          1. re: Bjartmarr

            I like their crispy oyster mushrooms and the mapo tofu is pretty good too

            1. re: Ernie

              mmm crispy oyster mushrooms. I especially like the little msg nuggets.

          2. I love their steamed buns! I think they might even have the fried version of the buns which is harder to find. Have fun!