No booze and mediocre Chinese eats at this bar.
Happy Noodle Bar feels less like a Chinese restaurant and more like what I imagine a nightclub would feel like if it didn’t have a liquor license and if nobody was there. Top 40 hits (along with an occasional “Glee” cover) blare loudly, and flashing colored lights illuminate the fake brick walls. Not my usual setting for eating mu shu chicken, but hey, it’s different.
Our friendly waiter gave us a thorough rundown of the menu, which varies from Americanized dishes like orange chicken to more traditional Chinese delicacies, like Peking duck and pigs ears. Not exclusively Chinese, the menu also features other East Asian foods such as bibimbap and shabu–shabu.
The appetizers were by far the highlight of the meal, though Happy was out of the intriguing “Chinese Hamburger,” which our waiter told us was not to be missed. The Peking duck wrap ($2), while small, was warm and crispy, and the plum sauce brought out the flavor of the meat. The marinated sliced beef ($5.99) was also a hit. Served cold and topped with chopped nuts and herbs, the dish got us excited for our entrees to arrive.
Unfortunately, these less than impressed. Nothing on the menu was inedible, but the dishes didn’t leave us wanting more. My friend’s plate of stir–fry chicken noodles ($7.99), while heaping, was monochromatic and lacked the spicy aroma you expect from Chinese food. He described the meal as “decent, but pretty standard and unexciting.” My other friend, who ordered the vegetarian version of the same dish, was slightly more satisfied, crediting the bok choy and bean sprouts in her meal with adding some much–needed flavor. My seafood bibimbap ($9.99) came out steaming in a stone bowl, the most aesthetically pleasing meal of the night. Blandness did not abait, but we managed with the ever–faithful sriracha. The vegetables and seafood in the dish were cooked well, but the same cannot be said for the rice which was chewy and overcooked.
We hoped that our mediocre meal could be salvaged by a sweet treat, so we ordered a mango bubble tea ($2.95). Alas, the drink was too milky and lacked the full mango flavor we expected.
While the company kept us happy, the food did not.
Happy Noodle Bar
927 Race St.
Don't Miss: Peking duck wrap
Skip: All the main courses
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.