SGV: Wontons Search Leads to Happy Harbor
I’m obsessed with dumplings and one of my favorite kind of dumplings is the wonton.
When I was young, my dad pointed out a group making wontons at a restaurant and it made an impression on me. I also recall going with my mom on a wontons search in Hong Kong when I was about 10. That was an indelible trip. More on that trip later.
My favorite sort is a mix of pork and shrimp. The wrapper must be filled so it’s round with enough wrapper to trail around the soup bowl like “fins of a fish.” I also like really thin egg noodles with a great chew. I eat my wontons with red vinegar but lately started dabbing in a bit of chili oil.
My brother has been telling me about Happy Harbor for several months before we finally went for Chinese breakfast. He warned me the wonton wrappers would be “kind of weird.” It turns out the wrappers were a thinner, white wrapper (no egg) and not the thicker, egg wrapper. Ah, well, it certainly trails around the soup bowl like lovely fish fins.
Breakfast is very affordable at Happy Harbor. You can choose noodles, porridge, rice and add on a side plus a drink for about $8 or $9. I opted for the wonton noodles soup, shrimp cheung fun (wide noodles stuffed with shrimp) and milk tea (tea with condensed milk).
I immediately liked the shrimp in the wontons weren’t chopped up. And it was a balanced dumpling. It wasn’t all shrimp but had savory ground pork. It was very, very good but still doesn’t solve my search for the perfect bowl of wontons.
So about that trip to Hong Kong when I was 10. Every morning, my great-grandfather would arrive at the crack of dawn to my grandparents’ house where I was staying and drag me to the markets. We would buy fresh fish, pork, vegetables and anything else that caught my great-grandpa’s eye. At the end of the shopping excursion, he’d take me to breakfast. I didn’t call it Chinese breakfast because that’s what I called dim sum. Instead, he took me to coffee shops with Western-style breakfasts but with a Chinese sensibility. My favorite breakfast was macaroni soup with spam and peas. If I was particularly hungry, I’d get a fried egg and toast. We always had milk tea.
Happy Harbor reminds me of those mornings though this shop had more Chinese items. I loved the shrimp cheung fun at Happy Harbor. The rice noodles were silky and though it didn’t have much shrimp, it was an enjoyable distraction from my main meal.
My brother ordered loh mi gai, lotus leaf wrapped rice. It too rivaled some of the best from dim sum palaces. It also didn’t have much protein but the flavors were there.
He ordered black pepper steak and a fried egg. He doesn’t like runny eggs so the yolk was cooked all the way through. The steak was amazingly tender. I probably would have gone with plain rice but he went with…
Yep, being a boy who still likes instant noodles, he opted for the instant ramen. I just had to shake my head at this. The bowl didn’t even have any chopped green onions or anything to indicate it was anything more than what it is. I was happy with my “real” noodles.
The breakfast menu is simple but the lunch and dinner menus are much more extensive. I wouldn’t mind coming back for a quick lunch or early dinner.
Happy Harbor Cuisine736 E Valley Blvd., Alhambra, CA 91801 — (626) 282-3838
© The Minty 2013