As you may already know, I hate lineups. I find that there is no bigger waste of time then to lineup for something. There are very few things that are worth the trouble. And this includes food! Well, to avoid this, we often make reservations. But, with Chinese restaurants this is not an exact science. Let's take Fortune House in Metrotown as an example. Sure, you can make a reservation; yet, all that will get you is into another lineup of people who made reservations. So, when we made a reservation at Happy Valley (formerly Green Hut) for Dim Sum, we didn't really know what to expect. We were meeting up with Goose and his family at Happy Valley. I was a bit late arriving because of morning ice hockey. Let me digress, ice hockey on a hot day is great! When I did arrive, I found out that the hostess had given our table away! Her excuse? There was another party with the same last name that arrived before we did. Excuse me, so let me get this straight. If someone had the last name Lee, they're royally screwed because the chances of another party arriving with the same last name is high. Then why the heck do we give our phone numbers when we make a reservation??? This... was not a very auspicious start to our first visit for Dim Sum at Happy Valley. The good news is we got a table shortly after, albeit a bit smaller.
I've been here for dinner before and was impressed with the overall quality of food and cleanliness of the restaurant. However, they got this strange "used car lot" thing going in the front of the restaurant. One quick glance and you'd think it wasn't a restaurant. Alas, with a huge lineup in front, you quickly realize the people are not there for the used BMW's. Being quite hungry after hockey, I quickly initiated the food ordering process. I passed the order sheet over to Mother Goose (I was dying to use that nickname!) so that she could choose some items. After we all added a few more items, we sent the sheet over to the kitchen. Quicker than a Chinese restaurant closing as a result of a health inspection, the food arrived. All of it! That made for some difficult picture taking and tight arrangements at our table. We ended up ordering 3 types of Rice Noodle Rolls - Shrimp, Beef and Salty Donut. They were pretty soft and packed with ingredients. I was especially impressed with the perfectly cooked shrimp since they were big enough to be called prawns. On the topic of shrimp, the Steamed Shrimp Dumplings were massive! They were some of the biggest ones I've ever seen, they barely fit into the steamer. My enthusiasm was tempered somewhat by the doughy and overcooked dumpling skin. Mind you, the shrimp was both plentiful and in large pieces. This was also true for the Shimp Spring Rolls. Not only were they packed with shrimp, there were 4 of them.
The Black Bean Spareribs were quite meaty; but curiously the same spareribs on top of the Sparerib Rice Hot Pot was saltier. On that note, the Dim Sum to me was a tad on the salty side. This was especially evident with the Fried Chicken Knees. On top of the over fried and small bits of chicken was plenty of MSG crystals. This particular dish was terrible, don't order this if you're at Happy Valley. For one of the few times in my life, a Dim Sum place brought the Egg Tarts last, even though we had chose it with our original order. That was some impressive expediting of food, especially in a madhouse of a restaurant. And the Egg Tarts were pretty darn good. The crust was extremely flaky and they were served hot.
All-in-all, the food at Happy Valley was plentiful and pretty good; albeit salty. Service was not bad for such a busy restaurant. Since the restaurant was so busy, the ambiance was hectic and not all that relaxing. So if you want to slowly sip your tea, eat your Dim Sum and read the paper, this is not the place to be. I'll forgive them for the reservation mix-up, even though honestly it was pretty stupid. But, if you want decent food that is modestly-priced, Happy Valley is a good choice.
- Big portions
- Moderately priced
- Restaurant is clean
- Food is a bit salty (and MSG)
- Parking lot is insufficient and tight
- Dining room is quite cramped