needless to say, the belief that vegetarian food was flavorless (thank you monks) pervaded my thoughts whenever i came across vegetarian options. why eat bland when i can eat cow? yes, that is a question i ask myself on a daily basis....that is until a few years ago when my practicing buddhist friend took me to happy family restaurant and swore up and down atlantic blvd that it was the best vegetarian eats ever. she was definitely 85% in the right with this one.
i came back a few days ago to their brand new location in the shopping center right off the 10 freeway (the one with the 24 hour fitness). they pretty much packed all their tables and chairs and moved shop, but the food was still as tasty and as righteous as it ever was.
their sweet and sour soup was tart and tangy. this bowl packed as much of a punch as one might expect from the flying fists of a shaolin monk. on a cold day, it immediately warmed my soul and spirit.
the minced squab in lettuce ($7.95) is probably their best selling appetizer and a must order for all. each lettuce cup contained finely minced jicama, marinated tofu, and slivers of fried wonton skins. each ingredient contributed to quite a flavorful explosion of flavors for your mouth.
since we caught them at their "happy hour" prices which occurs between the hours of 2:45 to 5:00, we ordered two additional dishes at recession friendly prices. this vegetarian fish with spicy sauce ($5.95) has a spongy texture, a fishy taste, and will confound your tastebuds because during certain bites, it REALLY did taste like fish even though it's not. weirdness.
without a doubt, my absolute FAVORITE dish is their vegetarian deep fried house chicken ($5.95) which is battered white button mushrooms slathered in orange sauce. hold the presses, this tastes EXACTLY like panda express orange chicken. and if you flirt with the ghetto fast food side of life like me upon occasion because you hanker after eats like mcdonald's french fries or panda express orange chicken, then this will not disappoint. the only disappointment you will feel is when your dining partner robs you of the last piece.
i really love this place because it's flavorful, reasonable, down to earth, and best of all, i spared a few animals from heading towards the great green pasture in the sky. FURTHERMORE, places like these remind me that explosively delicious flavors need not come from michelin stars or celebrity chefs. tasty is tasty. ok, now i need to go meditate whilst i rub my belly.
Happy Family Restaurant
608 N Atlantic Blvd
Monterey Park, CA 91754
verdict: omg, i love it!