Sunday, July 15, 2007

Happy Harbor Restaurant

Happy Harbor Restaurant sits in the same shopping center as 99 Ranch Market in Rowland Heights. Although it’s only a few doors down from 99 Ranch Market it sort of sits in obscurity as it is near the end of the shopping center.

The menu is strikingly similar to that of Seafood Harbour so naturally one cannot help but compare the two. This is a menu driven dim sum restaurant. Happy Harbor compares very favorably to Seafood Harbor in my opinion. Seafood Harbour is just a notch above, but if you are in the neighborhood it’s a very solid choice.

The BBQ Pork Bun in Oyster Sauce is a little different than most Char Sui Bao that I’ve had. The bao contains a relatively dry shredded pork filling that is not as sweet as one is accustomed to. The bun is pillowy soft, and the inside while different is still very flavorful. One thing that I noticed right away is that the filling was void of hunks of fat that one normally finds in bao. Maybe the fact that the pork is shredded account for this.

The Eggplant with Shrimp Paste are huge cuts of eggplant with a generous portion of shrimp paste attached to it. The eggplant is very creamy and has just a little bit of spicy bite to it that eggplant sometimes has. The shrimp paste actually tastes more like a fish cake, but is still tasty nonetheless. The shrimp paste is deep fried that results in a perfect crunchy exterior while allowing the flavor of the interior to shine through.

The Fried Crispy Shrimp contained somewhat of a surprised. Mixed in with the big fat whole shrimp and taro was curry paste. The shrimp was covered in taro and placed over a layer of curry paste. The entire thing was breaded then deep fried. The combination of flavors wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t exactly to my liking. The biggest disappointment of this dish though, was the fact that it was served cold and not hot and fresh out of the fryer.

The Har Gow contained two to three whole plump shrimps with a little shrimp paste to hold it together. The skin was soft and pliable but still had a little bit of a chew to it. The shrimp were cooked to perfection and not at all overcooked. The har gow is so big that it will take two to three bites to finish each piece off.

The Steamed Rice Noodle with Shrimp were three long broad rice noodles filled with fat whole shrimp covered in a slightly sweet soy sauce. The dish was served with two pieces of Chinese broccoli. The noodles were soft and doughy and eaten together with the shrimp and sauce made a perfect combination.

The Shark Fin’s Scallop Dumpling is almost a meal in itself. Two or three whole shrimp compose the base on which a whole scallop is place. The entire package is wrapped in a soft, chewy skin and topped with fish roe and strands of shark fin. The size of the dumpling alone will make it fall apart upon the first bite unless you can somehow manage to eat this thing in one bite. The scallop had a little bit of a “fishy” taste, otherwise these were perfect.

The Fresh Shrimp Dumpling with Chives is similar to har gow but has the nice addition of chives to it. The dumpling also contains a little bit of ginger to help add some zing to the dish. Like the har gow, these dumplings are filled with two to three whole shrimp.

The Shu Mai contain whole shrimp with large pieces of ground pork mixed in. The shu mai wrapper is a little bit tougher and chewier than a har gow skin but holds up well to the denseness of the filling. The entire dumpling is topped with fish roe which gives it some color and crunch for a texture contrast.

The Steamed Mushroom in Oyster Sauce are huge button mushrooms filled with a generous amount of fish paste. The whole thing is then steamed and topped with a thinned out oyster sauce. The mushrooms aren’t overcooked and still retain its texture and “meaty” quality.

The Shanghai Dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao, are each served in each own little dish to retain the soup should the skin break. The dish can also acts as a spoon. The dumplings contain a generous amount of soup, but the skins seemed a little overcooked and “tired”. Although not up to the standard of Mei Long Village these were still good.

The Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf come three to an order. Each “package” contains a generous amount of sticky rice along with ground pork, mushrooms and salted eggs. I didn't try this dish but my companion said that it was very good.

The Shrimp and Pork Dumpling is similar to the shu mai but is contained in an enclosed skin. The dumpling also contains wood ear mushrooms. The shrimp are diced instead of left whole and like most of the dishes here, a generous amount of ground pork also makes its way into the dumpling. About the only difference between this and shu mai is the enclosed wrapper and the deletion of fish roe.

The Egg Tarts are a little different at Happy Harbor. They are a little bigger in size and are not that deep yellow color that one associates with egg tarts. The tarts aren’t as “eggy” as one expects but still has a nice custard flavor. The tarts are topped with translucent strands which are a little firm. I’m not really sure what it is, but could it possibly be shark fin???

All in all, Happy Harbor is a very solid choice for dim sum outside of the San Gabriel area. Service was friendly and attentive. Most of the staff spoke English well enough to get what you wanted without any confusion. And the best thing about it, less than a 5 minute wait on a Saturday at noon.

Happy Harbor Restaurant
1015 S. Nogales Street, #126
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(626) 965-2020


Anonymous said...

Very nice review. I really like Seafood Harbour's dim sum so I will have to check this place out.

Vegasbuff said...


If you like Seafood Harbour, you will definitely like this place. Plus, the wait time is significantly less.

Chubbypanda said...

Happy Harbor looks happy happy indeed. I love any steamed dumpling with shrimp inside.

Vegasbuff said...


Yeah, and these dumplings filled with whole big fat shrimp. Definitely not a one bite affair :O)