Happy Garden is a Chinese vegetarian place in the Wangsa Maju area of KL. We went looking for it in particular, but even so it took us by surprise when we found it, as it is in a bit of an industrial zone, with grey car parks and outdoor Chinese pubs.
On the corner, however, a big green restaurant which doesn’t photograph well in the dark…
Inside is quite comfortable, with a choice of round tables for families or square ones for couples or westerners. Dotted around the walls are pictures of specials and regular meals which might take your fancy, and you write the numbers of the dishes you want on an order paper. The staff are quite friendly and when they realised they had made a mistake with our order as they placed it on the table, they sorted it out quickly. There is also a funny soundtrack of western pop songs given a Chinese makeover.
Anyway, we had a few dishes, starting with a mushroom satay. Five sticks of three lumps of mushroom, very well seasoned and served with a delicious slightly sweet peanut and chilli dipping sauce.
Next we tried the ‘duck’ rolls. These were actually mock BBQ pork, mock pork belly, mushroom and mock duck wrapped in crispy bean curd skin, and came with a lovely hoi sin and sesame sauce. Crispy, chewy, sweet, savoury and fragrant.
Asam “fish” is a sour curry with pineapple, tomato and okra, all poured over a big chunk of mock fish (textured soy with seaweed base). This was the second best asam fish sauce I have had, and the best in KL.
Fiancée wanted a break from the soy and gluten, so had some kangkung (known in the UK as water spinach, and I feel it has all the stringiness of spinach without the nice taste) stir fried with mushrooms. She liked it, but the problem with Buddhist vegetarian places is that they don’t use garlic, which she felt would have made it a lot better.
We also had watermelon juice (nice but a little sweet), lime with sour plum (OK, but not really salty enough), and iced red bean (too watery, but fiancée accepts that’s her fault for asking for ice in what is normally a hot soup!).
I definitely want to return here as I enjoyed all the food a lot. It’s off the beaten track, and you’ll probably need sat nav or a savvy cab driver to get you here, but it is worth the effort if you like Chinese vegetarian. Other useful points: if you are vegan, you will be pleased to know they mark the eggy dishes with EGG in red; and they have wifi (didn’t test).
Address: 73 Jalan 3/23A, Wangsa Maju, 53300 Kuala Lumpur