Sherman's Food Adventures: Happy Tree House BBQ

Happy Tree House BBQ

Once again, the power of Instagram has prevailed.  As much as I am aware of the fairly new location of Happy Tree House BBQ on Kingsway, I wasn't completely convinced that a visit was all that necessary.  Located in the former Star Anise and before that, Samosa Garden, Happy Tree serves up BBQ skewers and whole fish presented on a heated cast iron plate.  This I know because it has been plastered on IG for the last half year.  So when it came time to pick a place to eat with Miss Y (she of the Paleo diet), it seemed like a good spot to check out for both eats and to get our meat on...

One thing that irked us was there is no "per skewer" option on the menu.  Rather, you must order a minimum amount (usually 5 of one type) of skewers.  Therefore, unless you come in a group of 6 or more, it is tough to get a variety.  So we ended up with only a few with 5 each of the Premium Beef and Special Lamb.  Both were seasoned with enough spices to create a nutty and spicy flavour to compliment the natural meat taste.  I thought the lamb was the better of the two being fatty and succulent.  However, the beef was caramelized a bit more which meant a noted smokiness and nutty sweetness.  I'm not sure why they would set this to minimum of 5 as they were constantly pumping these out and they could easily serve up less than that if requested.

On the other hand, there was no such ridiculous limit on the Prawn as we only had to get 2 as a minimum.   These looked less grilled than we would've expected.  Rather, they appeared to have been deep-fried (even though they were not).  After we removed the shells, the meaty prawn was natural-tasting and sweet.  Texturally, it was firm and slightly overdone being dense.  It wasn't dry though, where the meat was still tasty.  We were able to order one Oyster (I guess if they had a 5 minimum limit on the seafood, no one would order it?) and it was good.  It was more or less a plain oyster with some seasoning on top.  Hence it was naturally briny and only slightly salty.  I found it was cooked just right being buttery inside with only a touch of chewiness on the edges.

Seeing how magnificent the whole fish looked in the IG photos, we got the Spicy Grilled Cod with peppers served on a a large pan that was heated underneath.  Sure this was $39.00 but the portion size was pretty large as we didn't put much of a dent into the fish.  As flaky and moist as the fish was, the texture and appearance resembled sole more than cod.  The dish looked crazy spicy, but similar to Szechuan water-boiled fish, there was enough heat to make an impact without burning our tongues.   To cool things down, we got the Hand Made Noodle in bone broth as well as a bowl of rice.  The noodles were pretty good being chewy with elasticity.  They were a touch overdone though.  As for the soup, it was plenty tasty with the essence of sesame oil.  However, we felt there was too much seasoning and it took away from the natural flavours of the bone broth.

Lastly, for our veggie, we got the Eggplant topped with a considerable amount of minced garlic.  Hence, the flavours were intense and made sure we weren't going to kiss anyone later one (the spicy fish was also very garlicky).  Although rather oil-soaked, the eggplant was texturally appealing being meaty while tender.  It was barely cooked through which ensured that it wasn't mushy.  Of course we didn't finish all the food we ordered and it didn't help we had to get 5 earch of our meat skewer order.  Whatever the case, the food was tasty and the service was a whole lot better than we have read about.

The Good:
- Tasty and well-seasoned food
- On point execution of proteins

The Bad:
- Stupid minimum limit on most of the skewers
- Must they play the music that loud?  I've been to concerts that were quieter


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