A traditional Chinese restaurant located in the Newton area

Situated in Hotel Royal in the Newton area and time-wrapped in eighties style decor, Happy Joy is a mid-end Chinese restaurant serving delectable south-eastern Chinese dishes at affordable prices.

Happy Joy Restaurant 萬喜 Newton

Happy Joy Restaurant 萬喜


It was a fabulous dinner. We started in Canton with some soup and some crustacean delight. Then we jump shipped to Hakka for pork and sidetracked to Taiwan for chicken. Next, we swirled past Swatow landing in Guangzhou for fish before being shuttled to Shanghai for a sweet Chinese meringue finish.

Pure serendipity in “rediscovering” Happy Joy

It was pure serendipity that I rediscovered Happy Joy.  I met the daughter of the owner of the restaurant, Leo, through Lynette an old friend. Last week she suggested dinner together at Happy Joy together with Lynette and some other friends, Lawrence and Huey. When we arrived in Happy Joy, Leo told us that Happy Joy was formerly at Kim Tian Rd, and they have moved to Newton in 2011. Suddenly I realized why the name Happy Joy sounded so familiar; it was the neighborhood “zichar” place where I had my Sunday family dinners when I just a little malnourished skinny boy living in Kim Tian Rd! And that was almost 20 years ago!

A quick google brought out a photo of the restaurant in the distinctive black and white building where the restaurant used to be. And it also brought back sweet memories of the Indian milk seller delivering full-fat goat milk on a bicycle for my morning breakfast to fatten the skinny me, but that is another story for another time.

Happy Joy Old Location

Happy Joy Old Location


Sexy food: Cantonese flirting with Hakka, Teochew, Taiwanese, and even Shanghainese!

First came the soup.

Leo could not have been more generous. In true Hainanese hospitality. she started us off with the most exquisite signature dish, “Supreme Shark’s Fin with Chicken & Abalone Soup 砂煲鸡鲍翅***.” 

Supreme Shark's Fin with Chicken & Abalone Soup 砂煲鸡鲍翅

Supreme Shark’s Fin with Chicken & Abalone Soup 砂煲鸡鲍翅

According to Lynette, old mother hens are slow-cooked for six hours to ooze out the collagen, which gives the soup a thick and milky texture. 

The sentence above has to be some of the sexiest food porn I have ever written! 

I drank some of the soup, and I was so mesmerized by the taste that I filtered out the conversations around the table to savor the soup better. It was a pure umami blast in refined Cantonese style. It reminded me of a Japanese jidori chicken winter soup I had before, but the flavors here were a hundredfold more intense.

Then came three dishes. 

Lynette finally shooked me out of my soup induced daze, just in time for the next three dishes that were about to be served: “Golden Battered Prawns with Wolfberry leaves 金银鸳鸯虾,” “Fermented Bean Curd Pork Belly 炸南乳五花肉,” and “Aromatic – Three Cups of Chicken Claypot 砂煲三杯鸡.” 

Golden Battered Prawns with Wolfberry leaves 金银鸳鸯虾

Golden Battered Prawns with Wolfberry leaves 金银鸳鸯虾

I spread some homemade mayonnaise on the battered prawns and sprinkled some of the fried wolfberry leaves. It was a perfect combination with the wolfberry leaves lending a refreshing delicate fragrance to the more robust batter prawn and mayonnaise flavors. This dish is another Cantonese classic, but I suppose the mayonnaise was an early eighties introduction to Chinese cuisine. 

Fermented Bean Curd Pork Belly 炸南乳五花肉

Fermented Bean Curd Pork Belly 炸南乳五花肉

“Fermented Bean Curd Pork Belly” is an old school Hakka home-cooked dish. “Five flowers 五花肉” pork belly as in pork belly with five layers of fats is used to keep the pork juicy. The fermented bean curd serves as a marinade. Happy Joy’s rendition of this classic was perfect with just fermented bean curd tempering the porkiness of the meat. I dug into this dish like nobody’s business, wishing that the meat in my daily pre-ordered fitness meals taste just as good.

Aromatic Three Cups of Chicken Claypot 砂煲三杯鸡

Aromatic Three Cups of Chicken Claypot 砂煲三杯鸡

The last time I had “Three Cups of Chicken” was in Taipei 2 years ago, this being a Taiwanese classic. I remembered it as a slightly salty soya sauce based dish that was oily. This version at Happy Joy was less oily and had more of a sweet black vinegar flavor to it. I liked it, but I would have preferred it less sweet. But Lynette and Huey gobbled it all up; I guess the dish was more to their palettes.

And another two more dishes. 

At this stage, we were already pretty full, but there were two more savory dishes to go! The next two courses were “Steamed Garoupa Fish with Pickled White Radish 菜脯蒸石斑” and “Fried Hokkien Prawns Noodle 福建炒虾面.” 

Steamed Garoupa Fish with Pickled White Radish 菜脯蒸石斑

Steamed Garoupa Fish with Pickled Radish 菜脯蒸石斑

The fish was in the traditional Cantonese style with a light soya sauce base. Happy Joy added a dash of Teochew to this dish by topping it up with pickled radish. It worked pretty well – the pickled radish giving an extra oomph to this mild-flavored fish.

Fried Hokkien Prawns Noodle 福建炒虾面

Fried Hokkien Prawns Noodle 福建炒虾面

The Hokkien noodle was perhaps the most localized of all the dishes we had so far. It came with homemade sambal made with Indonesian candlenut and belacan. This noodle dish was soaked thick in a heady umami broth and tossed with plenty of pork belly and lardon. I mixed it up with the sambal and added a dash of lime juice, took a mouthful and attained pasta seventh heaven. The last time I reached this level was in Bologna chewing on venus’s belly buttons.

I wished I could stay there longer, but I restrained myself, not wanting to put on any extra kilos with these carbohydrates. I look with great envy at Lynette, Huey, and Lawrence as they licked up all the delicious strands like there was no tomorrow. 

Finally the dessert 

Deep Fried Souffle Egg White with Red Bean 高力豆沙

Deep Fried Souffle Egg White with Red Bean 高力豆沙

The dessert was “Deep Fried Souffle Egg White with Red Bean 高力豆沙,” a Shanghainese dessert. I dipped it in the icing sugar and took a bite. It has a chewy dough that lands on an earthy red bean paste. I am not a big fan of sweets, but Lawrence and Lynette devoured more than their fair share, so it must be delightful for those with sweet tooths.

It was a fabulous dinner. We started in Canton with some soup and some crustacean delight. Then we jump shipped to Hakka for pork and sidetracked to Taiwan for chicken. Next, we swirled past Swatow landing in Guangzhou for fish before being shuttled to Shanghai for a sweet Chinese meringue finish.

We, two aunties and three uncles were completely satisfied. Happy Joy sparked real joy for us!

The prices

Supreme Shark’s Fin with Chicken & Abalone Soup – $60 per mini pot (for 1 person)

Golden Battered Prawns with Wolfberry leaves – $28 (small)

Fermented Bean Curd Pork Belly – $16 (small)

Aromatic Three Cups of Chicken Claypot – $16 (small)

Steamed Garoupa Fish with Pickled Radish – $8 per 100g

Fried Hokkien Prawns Noodle – $18 small

Deep Fried Souffle Egg White with Red Bean – $2 per pcs, min 10 pcs

A promotion just for you !!!

Leo and I  would love you to experiences these great dishes.

Send me your name and email below, and I will give you a promo code where you can get 10% discount on your meal at Happy Joy when you order one of the dishes mentioned above from 2nd to the 20th of December.

Give us your name and email for a discount code

Date visited : 23/11/2019

Happy Joy is located at 36 Newton Rd, #02-01 Hotel Royal, Singapore 307964, Tel : 6251 8135

*** I don’t usually order and eat shark’s fin. In this case, I was a guest, and I would have considered it rude to refuse what the host has offered as a highly prized item. I asked Leo if Happy Joy offers a non-shark fin’s version for this soup. Unfortunately, they don’t.