I WAS asked in a recent radio interview about the importance of aesthetics to a food review, and what I look for as I enter an eatery.
In the case of the Happy Star Noodle House it isn’t the decor, which, despite the place being pretty recent is very much low-key ‘80s.
It does have a certain retro ambience—the 80s was 30 years ago, don’t forget—and an air nothing has changed in years.
What really strikes me however is how full this small restaurant is, despite being tucked away in the back blocks of Myaree’s car yards.
Next is the smell, a delicious mix of unidentifiable odours that lures me deeper inside. Is this how opium dens lured their customers, with intoxicating, exotic aroma?
The high proportion of Chinese and Chinese-Australian diners is a huge tick as it points to authenticity. Dishes such as stir-fried pork intestine and salt and pepper pork intestine ($15.60) seal it: this is the real deal.
For the slightly less adventurous there is stewed pork belly with yam claypot or sea cucumber with Chinese mushrooms.
We kick off with a fried squid and a deep-fried aubergine entree ($8.80 each).
“divine, subtle yet with the full flavour of spring onions and ginger shining through, with a delicious hint of barbecue smokiness.”
Probably a bit of oil overload but worth the taste. The batter on both is light and crisp, the squid cooked to tender perfection and the eggplant rich and filling.
I eye our fish with ginger and shallots ($16.30) with suspicion, as I poke at the gelatinous-textured fish, secretly hoping it might pop.
We are instantly won over as the flavour hits from the first mouthful: divine, subtle yet with the full flavour of spring onions and ginger shining through, with a delicious hint of barbecue smokiness.
I’m a kway teow fan from way back and am often disappointed at what gets served up. The Happy Star excels, and its Singapore version ($15) is right on the money.
A fantastic meal finished on a sweet note, with a serve of red bean pancakes ($9.80) and toffee banana balls ($8.80).
The banana is a cross between a Red Rooster-style deep-fried banana (oh come on, you know they’re the best thing ever) and a toffee apple. The pieces of banana are hot and soft while the batter has a sweet toffee crunch. To contrast, the red bean filling of the pancake (also deep-fried) had a salty, chocolate taste.
I’ve eaten at plenty of Chinese restaurants over the years, both cheap and expensive, and reckon the Happy Star is a happy, happy find.
Happy Star Noodle House
48 Hulme Court, Myaree
open 6 days, 11am–2.30pm,
5–10pm. Closed Tuesday