Today has been a good day.
With such lovely weather and a new house to furnish, we decided to have a stroll down Abbeydale Road to check out some of the vintage/retro (or plain old second hand) furniture so that we could get an idea of what was out there. Which meant that we hit London Road at about lunch time – perfect!
I had planned to show Gav the delights of Urban Choola, but it turns out that they don’t open at lunchtime. So, as I’m on a mission to try some new places at the moment (to get out of my food rut), we gave Happy Cook a go.
Now, from outside, this is probably the least appealing restaurant on London Road, for me at least. A bright orange façade with pictures of food on the windows doesn’t really do it for me and, even once we’d entered, I almost turned round and left as it was dark and empty – we thought it was shut.
Thankfully a member of staff spotted us and sat us down. Décor is on the unusual side. Tables were sparkly with a granite effect, lights were on low and set into colourful, flower shaped shades and butterflies adorned the walls. There was also a TV showing (I assume) Chinese shows.
On learning that this was our first visit our server took us through the menu. It’s short and simple. There’s DIY stuff with Hot Pots and Korean BBQ – both available in all you can eat or set meal options. But as I’m a believer in having someone else do the cooking when I’m in a restaurant, we went for a selection of ready made Sizzling Stone Bowl meals and Charcoal BBQ skewers,
We also had a couple of the Taiwanese Special Teas (£2.80 each); I went for strawberry and Gav had the honey and pomelo. Both were really refreshing and the strawberry was pretty sweet whereas there was a bitter tang to the pomelo.
The food arrived in batches, presumably as and when it was ready and first up was the Beef Belly sizzling stone bowl (£6.50 or £4.50 between 12 and 5 with a fried rice option for 50p). And although the bowl wasn’t sizzling as such, it was red hot which ensured the contents stayed piping hot throughout our meal. But enough about the bowl and onto its contents; tender chunks of beef, pak choi, fried rice all topped off with a fried egg.
By ‘eck this was good. I mean, really good. We were told that this was one of their specialities and it’s clear why. There was a tasty and warming level of spicing, along with a few chillies to give it a little heat. It was also a large portion – to be fair this would have fed the pair of us quite satisfactorily, but I’m glad we tried some of the BBQ too.
Chicken Gizzards (£1) were a new one on us and they reminded me of chicken hearts – these were nicely spiced. Squid (£1.50) and Tentacles (£2) were lightly grilled and served with a chilli sauce and fresh coriander leaves. Given the Asian love of texture to their food, it’s hardly surprising that these had a good level of bite to them. However, our favourite was the Aubergine (£2). Sliced in half, cooked to full creamy deliciousness and served with a dressing of coriander, chilli and spring onions (I think) these were amazing for the £2 price tag.
Not that there’s any question of the value of the food at Happy Cook. Our bill came to a grand total of £17.10, which, I’m guessing, is one of the cheapest, and tastiest, lunches we’ve had! We’ll be back.