Happy Chef's laksa gets mentioned all the time in those lazy Sydney Morning Herald 'best of' list articles. And Luke Mangan gives it the thumbs up (it says so on the signage), so it's got to be good, right?
[UPDATED MARCH 2015]
Happy Chef does noodle soup, noodle soup, noodle soup, plus the odd dry noodle soup for variety. It's the laksa that gets all the praise so we give it a shot, even though we're not really laksa fans after overdosing on the stuff in the laksa-crazed 1990s. There's some depth of flavour in the broth, and mild chili heat, the best bit is the curry sodden tofu puffs. It's nice but we're not sure what the fuss is all about, though it does rekindle our interest in curry laksa. Even if it isn't the best laksa in town, it is consistent and available 10 hours a day 7 days per week.
A BBQ pork and wonton noodle soup ($8.50) is always a good benchmark. The fixings are excellent but Happy Chef's broth has never been a favourite with us.
Happy Chef does this salty, bright yellow broth that makes us feel thirsty instead of refreshed. We've noticed the same deal at Happy Chef in Newtown and Market City (assuming they're all related). Other folks love their Happy Chef to bits, and others don't care about the broth so much, but we found more 'wow' to be had at Fung Shing Gourmet two stalls down.
Dry chicken on noodles - $8.50. The boss lady asks if we want pork as well, why not? From the picture we were kind of expecting a 'hanain chicken noodles' but it's more of a dry soup with the broth on the side. The chicken is plain and works well with the minced pork in gravy-like sauce and the fresh veggies hidden at the bottom of the bowl.
Spicy sate tripe wonton noodle soup - $10. Alison loves her offal! She rates the sate soups over the laksa.
[BACK AGAIN MARCH 2015]
Still trying to feel the laksa love, this time with a vegetable and tofu version $9.00. The fried tofu sponges are still the best part, and the crisp greens and broccoli stems are winners. The place was packed for a Monday lunch when other stores are often closed.
Happy Chef is in the Sussex Centre Food Court, 401 Sussex Street Chinatown. Make sure you check out their unique peg ordering system and the giant bowls of peeled garlic being prepared at the counter. Head up the escalator and be at one with Hello Kitty.