4.0 rating over 2 reviews
Call 111 North Atlantic Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Neighborhoods: Alhambra

Cuisine: Chinese, Vegetarian, Vegan

Happy Family Restaurant 3 is a Chinese, Vegetarian, and Vegan restaurant where most Menuism users came for fun with friends, paid between $10 and $25, and tipped more than 18%.

Pros
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FamishedFoodie photo

FamishedFoodie

 Los Angeles, CA
Happy Family Restaurant 3 4.0
 

Veg Heads: Happy Family Restaurant

Happy Family Restaurant turns out to be an AYCE vegetarian restaurant. There’s even a sign out front asking you not to bring meat into the restaurant. There are 64 items on the menu and everything is cooked to order for $12.95 per person. The meal comes with rice, porridge, bread and soup.

I would come back to Happy Family and order the house chicken and eggplant with basil. I’d also love to sample more of the dishes. Now if I could only find a way to keep the porridge hot, hot, hot! The tab for 5 comes out to about $80 including tax and tip.

25. Vegetarian Kung Pao Chicken (Wheat Gluten) at Happy Family Restaurant 3

25. Vegetarian Kung Pao Chicken (Wheat Gluten)

The vegetarian kung pao chicken (wheat gluten) is very good but it’s not that spicy so I add more chili oil. It has lots of peanuts and water chestnuts too.

50. Vegetarian Rib (Taro) with Sweet and Sour Sauce at Happy Family Restaurant 3

50. Vegetarian Rib (Taro) with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Another table favorite is the vegetarian rib (taro) with sweet and sour sauce. I find the breading to be a bit too heavy for me. When the dish is no longer hot, I think the taro makes it more starchy. I’m typically not a fan of sweet and sour sauce though.

32. Stir Fry Spinach at Happy Family Restaurant 3

32. Stir Fry Spinach

The stir fry spinach is not too oily like at some other Chinese places. I don’t see any garlic in it but it’s pretty much what you’d find at home if you had a Chinese mom cooking for you. I’d love to try some of their other stir fry vegetables next time.

55. Fried Noodle with Vegetable at Happy Family Restaurant 3

55. Fried Noodle with Vegetable

The stir fried noodles with vegetable is pretty standard. I put some red chili oil on it to spice it up.

43. Szechuan Style Tofu at Happy Family Restaurant 3

43. Szechuan Style Tofu

The Szechuan style tofu is a perfect porridge dish except my porridge is lukewarm at this point so the effect is diminished. This is quite mild as are all the “spicy” dishes here. I still prefer the traditional mapo dofu version with minced meat better.

1. Minced Squab in Lettuce at Happy Family Restaurant 3

1. Minced Squab in Lettuce

Next we try the minced squab in lettuce. This is good after a liberal dose of chili oil. I don’t really care for lettuce so I think I would enjoy a different wrapper more.

21. Vegetarian Shredded Pork with Preserved Vegetable at Happy Family Restaurant 3

21. Vegetarian Shredded Pork with Preserved Vegetable

The guys at the table don’t like the vegetarian shredded pork with preserved vegetable. Granted the tofu is a poor imitation for pork but the preserved vegetable is sour and tasty. I really like the pickled taste. It just cries for hot porridge but the porridge is fairly cold at this point.

27. Vegetarian Deep Fried House Chicken (Mushroom) at Happy Family Restaurant 3

27. Vegetarian Deep Fried House Chicken (Mushroom)

The vegetarian deep fried house chicken is delicious, it’s the hands down winner of the night. We end up with three orders before the evening is over. It’s crunchy, juicy and flavorful. What a fantastic way to use mushrooms. I would definitely order this again.

46. Eggplant with Basil at Happy Family Restaurant 3

46. Eggplant with Basil

A personal favorite for me is the eggplant with basil. The eggplant is tender but not mushy. And the basil gives it extra freshness. I just love the flavor combination here. I add this to my must order list.

Porridge at Happy Family Restaurant 3

Porridge

I opt to have my meal with porridge. There are bits of green mung beans in it. I really like porridge but there’s no way to keep it hot which makes me a little sad.

Ching photo

Ching

 Santa Monica, CA
Happy Family Restaurant 3 4.0
 

Yummy Vegetarian

VALUE: There are two menus, the a la carte and their buffet all you can eat menu. The AYCE is just $12.99 per person and they bring you made to order piping hot dishes to your table. There is no buffet “bar” to visit. What a perfect fusion of “Chinese” and “buffet.”

FOOD: Our group opted for the AYCE buffet; All the more reason to order family style, so here’s what the group ordered: (I’m going to quote Catherine C’s " OMFG!!" because it was truly a never ending procession of dishes!!!!)

My FAVS were:

#47: SPICY Eggplant with Hot Sauce – I absolutely LOVE LOOOVED this dish. The eggplant morsels were large and plump. The hot sauce was a very tasty kind of spicy instead of the hot kind of spicy! Just wonderful with brown rice and with the congee we ordered.

#16: Chopped Mustard Green with Bean Curd Sheets and Edamame beans. – I enjoy this vegetable because it has a slight bitter kick to it. The shards of bean curd sheets provided a delightful color and texture contrast to the heartiness of the greens. I also really liked the addition of the edamame soy beans too as they lent a sweetness to balance out the subtle bitterness of the greens.

#17: Dry Sauteed String Bean garnished with fried mushrooms – this dish LOOKS a lot like the traditional dish that’s usually topped with a smattering of fried garlic. But Happy Family excels at using alternative ingredients for a dish that yields surprising flavor. It was quite good, if not just as good as the traditional dish. The string beans were perfectly braised so they still were slightly crunchy, but were incredibly juicy with flavor.

#50: Vegetarian Spare Ribs (Taro) with Sweet and Sour Sauce. I never was an expressed fan of taro, but after this dish, I am now. It looked like Panda’s Orange Chicken and not at all like traditional spare ribs to be honest, but once the flavors bursts in your mouth, oh my! You’ll be an instant new fan of taro too.

#28: Vegetarian Deep Fried House Chicken with Sesame. This was a unanimous favorite of the entire group. This tasted alot like Orange Chicken but was oh soo good because it was actually breaded mushrooms! The sesame added a very nice fragrance to the dish. We got two orders of this one because we loved it so much!

Here are the other dishes that tasted standard to me, but they were still enjoyable:

#1: Minced Squab in Lettuce – The vegetarian “squab” was a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, vegetarian hen and jicama. Jicama is new to me as I’m a new vegetarian. It’s a potato like vegetable that retains its crispiness much like a water chestnut does after being stir fried and/or cooked. The jicama definitely gave this vegetarian squab a crunchy heartier substance than if it were consisted entirely of just mushrooms. However, to me, this dish was missing the tangy flavor of Hoi Sing sauce because that’s normally how I enjoyed it in my former carnivorous days.

#35: SPICY Vegetarian Soy Fish with Hot Bean Sauce and #36: SPICY Vegetarian Soy Fish with Chef’s Sauce. – I’m new to soy meat substitutes and the last time I had soy fish, it was more tender in my recollection than the soy fish served here at Happy Restaurant. I think I’ve pretty much confirmed my own preference for seitan (wheat gluten) as a meat substitute because it seems more pliable, like mushrooms, to absorb the sauces / flavors better.

There were close to 10 other dishes that the group ordered, but none were memorable for me to review.

SERVICE: Happy Family complied with our group reservation by seating us in a private room. Our hostess, Shing Shing, was incredibly engaging with witty banter as she patiently recommended dishes and explained ingredients to our group. She also became our waitress as well. I agree with Tony Y Jr.‘s assessment of the 5 star caliber of service we received in this non descript little Chinese vegan restaurant. We couldn’t have been tended to ANY better!!

As a new vegetarian, Happy Family is like hitting the jackpot. Can’t beat the value of $12.99 per person for AYCE dinner. That’s incredible! I’m knocking off one star because not ALL the dishes were winners, but a good many of them were. I’d definitely go back again.

#47: SPICY Eggplant with Hot Sauce

#47: SPICY Eggplant with Hot Sauce – I absolutely LOVE LOOOVED this dish. The eggplant morsels were large and plump. The hot sauce was a very tasty kind of spicy instead of the hot kind of spicy! Just wonderful with brown rice and with the congee we ordered.

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Happy Family Restaurant 3 is located near the cities of Southwest San Gabriel Valley, South San Gabriel, Alhambra, San Gabriel, and Rosemead.
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