Happy Chappy arrived on Jl. Braban, Kerobokan 4 years ago, the cuisine was basic Chinese, mainly Cantonese, with excellent attention to detail, an instant success.
Simple food done well! That is the secret of success everywhere. These owners actually go to restaurants themselves, the number of items in each serve [dim sum] are clearly shown, all dishes can be ordered in small or large portions. Things you want to know when ordering for a number of people. In Bali you usually have to ask the waitress, who often does not even know the answer.
With the immediate success of Happy Chappy Kerobokan it was decided to open a small outpost in Canggu, mainly to service the ever growing takeaway and home delivery clientele. They did not expect many customers to dine in, in fact the kitchen was larger than the dining area. They were wrong! Many evenings they had a full house, many diners preferring to eat local rather than face the ever increasing traffic chaos of Bali, so they moved it to a larger location.
Now it is the turn for Ubud, and a small Happy Chappy has opened on Jln. Raya Ubud. The project has been in progress for almost one year and Ubud Happy Chappy fans have been waiting patiently for the opening day, which has now arrived.
Dim Sum is the traditional Chinese starting point, particularly when the major cuisine is Cantonese as it is here. The choice is wide and varied. Perfect Har Gow, plump prawns wrapped in that translucent wheat starch ribbed dumpling. It is an item that is on every dim sum menu, and one that is not always done well [either over steamed or originating from the freezer]. Not so here at Happy Chappy, they are made fresh and then steamed to order, perfect! Pour some chilli or hoi sin sauce into the small provided dishes, stab a dumpling with your chop sticks and dip in the sauce of your choice, wonderful!
Other steamed dumplings include Shu Mai [half moon shape filled with chicken & mushroom, a mix of pork and prawn or prawn & chicken or vegetarian of sweet corn & coriander], The Steamed Buns are stuffed with BBQ Pork, the only way to eat Bak Pao, no halal here! Other fillings include Peking Duck or Bok Choy & Tofu.
Fried dim sum includes mini Spring Rolls, fillings include Prawn & Mango or Vegetarian. The dipping sauce is a mild chilli. Szechuan style Wontons can also be ordered deep fried [or steamed], the filling either pork or chicken.
Other appetizers include many old fashioned and traditional ones, rarely seen in ’modern’ restaurants [most trying to be too clever!]. Sesame Prawn Toast fingers with a soy-ginger dipping sauce, Prawn Butterfly Cutlets, flattened and crumbed, dip them in the lemon mayonnaise.
One of the great Chinese entrees is Sang Choy Bow. Originally minced pigeon was used for this Cantonese classic but that has almost universally been replaced with chicken, one of the options here. At Happy Chappy you can also have it with Peking Duck, BBQ Pork or a Vegetarian mix, but for me the duck is the best choice. Using the cold crisp lettuce as a bowl, you spoon the mince into it and pour some sauce on top. When served with the usual iceberg lettuce, a messy dribble is often the result as you attempt to eat this wonderful combination. In Bali a different lettuce leaf has been found, cos lettuce. long thin and firm. It holds the mince and is perfect for eating without causing any disasters.
I have been eating in restaurants, almost every day, for more years than I care to remember. However I am still often presented with something new. It can be just a very simple dish, and like this one, refreshingly different. Salt & Pepper Squid is on many menus, not only Chinese, in fact it almost seems to have become one of those dishes that must be on every ‘modern’ menu. I rarely order it as it is too often similar to chewing rubber. Hence, surprise and interest at finding Salt & Pepper Chicken on this menu, again it was a very simple dish, crumbed chicken pieces [tender but crunchy] tossed in salt, pepper and finely chopped garlic and herbs. It is so good you keep eating it throughout the meal [maybe even ordering another serve].
The mains are old and traditional; Cantonese roasts, rice/noodles or specials. Every suburban Chinese restaurant anywhere in the world serves these old common dishes, kids are raised on them; Sweet & Sour Pork, Lemon Chicken and Crispy Skin Chicken. All come from the Happy Chappy kitchen expertly prepared and cooked, simple food, done well!
Cantonese Roasts are unique, whether they be duck [with plum sauce], Chicken [with that crispy skin], or Pork Belly. All served traditionally, on the bone. Char Siu is one of my all time favourites, strips of lean pork seasoned with honey, 5 spice, fermented bean curd, soy and hoisin. These days in the food courts of Singapore they are usually dry and boring but at Happy Chappy, perfect. All roast duck and chicken courses can be ordered as half or full bird.
Noodles are every which way! Chow Mein are wheat flour noodles stir-fried with Chinese style vegetables and your choice of chicken, beef, prawn & fish or pork. The Japanese Ramen Noodles are also served, but in a broth of soy and chilli with roast pork or chicken with dumplings, beef and mushrooms.
Fried Rice and how you eat it tells where you are from. The Chinese use it as a final course, alone, to cleanse the palate. Westerners tend to eat it with the meals instead of steamed rice. Special meals are anything done different, Kung Pao Chicken [more international style without the fire of Szechuan pepper and peppercorns] is on every menu but here the Kung Pao is great [pictured]. If you want something more sweet then order the Lemon Chicken.
A special menu for children keeps them happy. There is a choice of three dishes, with smaller serves, all with mini spring rolls as a starter.
Happy Chappy Ubud is much more than just a pickup and takeaway place. In Australia there is a ‘local’ Chinese restaurant in almost every town, no matter how small. For the residents of Canggu & Berawa, now Ubud as well, Happy Chappy is their local, and they love it!
Restaurant : Happy Chappy.
Address : Jl. Raya Ubud, Ubud.
Telephone : 474.1959.
Open : Open from 11.30 a.m. daily.
Parking : Very limited, street only.
Price : Rp. 400,000 for two [+ drinks]
Credit Cards : Visa, Mastercard.
Food : Chinese [mainly Cantonese].
Wine : Limited.
Service : Smiling and fast.
Atmosphere : Happy!
Overall : Excellent Chinese, good value!
Copyright © 2018 Gerry Williams
Reviews that appear in Bali Advertiser are based on actual visits to the establishments listed, without the knowledge of the restaurants, and are not paid for by the individual restaurants.
Opinions expressed here are those of Gerry Williams and not necessarily those of Bali Advertiser. Gerry Williams attempts to write from a ‘typical’ diner’s perspective and, whilst quality of food is the most important criteria overall, value for money is the real measuring stick.