Sherman's Food Adventures: Happy Valley Food City

Happy Valley Food City

We all know the location that used to house Swiss Chalet out on Lougheed Hwy in Burnaby.  It was seemingly going to be there forever until it was heading towards closure, then didn't, then actually closing late last year.  Shortly after, signs went up indicating Happy Valley would take over the spot and operate it as a hybrid restaurant with one side being Chinese BBQ/Dim Sum and the other, HK-Style Cafe.  We finally made it out to try the HK-Style Cafe portion and interestingly, the restaurant is truly sectioned as such.  You cannot sit in the BBQ section and order anything other than BBQ.  Hence, we had to wait for a spot to open up on the HK-Style Cafe side even though the BBQ section was not full.

Looking over the menu, there was one page of HK-Style Cafe favourites and on the other side, typical Cantonese dishes.  We had a mix of dishes including the classic Baked Pork Chop Rice.  They were still ironing out the kinks of a new operation, so they kept coming back to ask if our pork chop was with spaghetti or rice.  This cumulated in us getting one each of Baked Pork Chop Rice and Baked Pork Chop Spaghetti.  We sent the spaghetti away since we didn't order it.  As for the actual dish, it was disappointing.  First of all, the sauce was bland and lacking in tang and savouriness.  Secondly, the pork chop was a tad on the chewier side.  Fried rice base was okay though.

Continuing on with the basics, we also had the Baked Spaghetti Bolognese.  This featured fairly al dente noodles that were topped with a pretty typical HK-Style Cafe bolognese sauce.  For those who are unfamiliar, this version generally does not include all of the usual herbs except for possibly a bay leaf and some oregano.  You might even find some star anise and soy in this version.  Also, it would not be cooked slowly for a long time such as the Italian version.  It was rich with tender morsels of beef.  I found it to be on the sweeter side possibly due to the ample amount of onions.  Overall, this was a decent version of the dish, yet at the same time, it could've benefited from more seasoning.

Moving onto a soup noodle, my son chose the Beef Brisket Noodle with wonton-type noodles.  It was a pretty large portion where he didn't even finish all the noodles.  They were mostly al dente, but naturally got softer as it soaked in the hot broth.  About that broth, it was pretty solid with sweetness and aroma from the starch-thickened brisket stewing juices.  As for the brisket there was a decent amount of it.  The meat was generally tender and not very fatty, which meant there was a decent amount of meat.

We stuck with the Cantonese dishes and ordered the Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice.  We ended ordering the smaller meal portion size that also included a beverage.  It turned out to be still a decent amount which was enough to share.  The rice was a touch soft, but still had decent wok hei (enough to caramelize) which meant the rice was nutty and not too moist.  I wished that there was more salted fish as the rice ate a bit plain.  The lack of salt contributed to this as well.  However, there was a good amount of tender chicken and the rice was chewy enough.

To get some greens into our diet, we ordered the Pea Shoots with Garlic.  This was a good portion considering the price.  I would say the pea shoots were slightly old, but it wasn't enough to make or break the dish.  There was good wok heat where the pea shoots were cooked through, yet did not leave any moisture on the bottom of the plate.  Plenty of garlic and seasoning for impact too.
Since we love the dish, we got the Sweet & Sour Pork and once again, it was a huge portion for $22.00.  It consisted of large chunks of pork and the result was juicy meat that had extensive marbling.  I'm guessing they might've used pork belly here (or very fatty pieces of shoulder).  I found the batter to be just right and still had a bit of crunch left.  There was just enough sauce to cling to each piece.  It was more sweet than sour though.

Now at this point, we were practically finished our meal and we were wondering when the Singapore Noodles would arrive.   They did so before we got a chance to ask about them.  It was worth the wait though as this was one of the better dishes.  As you can see, there was enough curry to both colour the noodles as well as providing spice.  There was also enough salt and the amount of ingredients were sufficient.  Overall, we thought the food was a decent and the prices were reasonable.  They still need to work on the pork chop rice though.  Service was good despite being a bit disorganized (forgivable since they are new).

The Good:
- Decent eats
- Okay pricing
- Service was okay given the circumstances

The Bad:
- A bit disorganized at the moment
- Since it is essentially 2 restaurants in one, both have limited seating especially the Dim Sum/HK-Style Cafe


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