Chinese Breakfast at Happy Cafe, San Mateo
Finding that elusive Chinese restaurant that serves great Chinese style breakfast is difficult. Some places have good sweet soy milk but don’t have the salty soy milk. And some places will have You Tiao (油條; fried cruller; Chinese donuts), which is common in most of China, but no Shao Bing (燒餅; think of it as Chinese Naan, or think of Naan as Indian Shao Bing), which is more of a Shandong specialty.
Happy Cafe seems to offer both You Tiao and Shao Bing with the additional bonus of Shanghai style Xiao Long Bao to be had. We also ordered a shrimp won ton soup, fried pork chop, Shanghai stir-fried thick noodle, and an item that I don’t usually order, the radish cake.
The sweet soy milk was pretty standard and I don’t think it is homemade. The pork chop came out first and was breaded very lightly and deep fried. The meat tasted tender and was lightly marinated with soy flavor. The taste is on par with what one may find in Taiwan. (Grade: A- )
The you tiao and shao bing came next and the shao bing looked very small. It was not as flaky/crusty on outside nor doughy inside. The you tiao was fried well and not overly greasy. It was above average in taste but still was not at the right balance of doughy-ness and flakiness. (Grade: B )
The shrimp wonton soup tasted light with flavors reminiscent of those found in streets of Taipei. It’s a refreshing change from the more common Cantonese style shrimp wonton soups which are bigger and usually more salty. (Grade: B+ )
The XLB arrived with all the wrappers intact. There were the right amount of soup inside. The filling was tasty but was slightly more coarse than I’d like. But overall this is definitely an above average to good version of the XLB. But for the best, I prefer the version at Hu Chiang Dumpling in Cupertino. (Grade: B+ )
The Shanghai stir-fried noodles were done well, but again, the serving size was rather small. Overall, most of the plates here seemed to be smaller than what I’m used to. Perhaps that’s a good thing which will help me lose some weight. (Grade: B )
The last item that came was the radish cake. There were two in a order but we could only eat half as it was so bad. The radish filling was not cooked through and had the raw radish flavor. Alas, it is not a common item even in Taiwan, so I can’t have too much expectation for it here I guess. (Grade: D )
Although it has its pluses with the wide varieties of Chinese breakfast offerings, I don’t think it is worth driving up to from the south bay. If I’m in the area, it would be a good chioce. The items worth getting are the XLB, the pork chop, and the wonton soup. The others are pretty average.250 S B St
San Mateo, CA 94401