I had been going to Happy Bakery for more than a decade, getting small orders of dim sum to-go or an occasional Chinese barbecued pork bun. A small box of various pastries always made great presents for a co-worker's birthday or to thank a friend for driving me to the airport.
The old location, with its handmade "Se Habla Espanol" sign because the Chinese owners once lived in Venezuela, was worn and tired. The owners often looked it too, but that was part of its charm. No frills, but I knew that the Happy Bakery was a real mom-and-pop kind of place.
Once, I stumbled upon the owners' son's blog post linking to my post about the fire. He said people kept asking his parents whether they were going to reopen. He said he was "bakerysick" in the way that some people get "homesick."
So happily filled with nostalgia, I mentioned all that to the owners when I first stopped in last December. She seemed happy to hear that people were talking about their reopening, excited to have them back. I asked her why they took so long?
She said they wanted to find the right location and they took a vacation. After so many years of working ungodly hours, the bakery opens at 6:30 a.m., I smiled at the thought of them needing and taking a vacation.
Welcome back, I said, and proceeded to order up a storm.
They still offer a variety of dim sum to-go.
But the much larger new location also meant a much larger variety of breads and pastries.
Way more desserts than before.
I ordered har gow (Chinese shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (Chinese meatball dumplings).
A few egg tarts, a barbecued pork bun, a curry puff pastry, and hom sui gok (Chinese sticky rice meat dumplings).
The taro bread had taro paste inside.
On another visit, I got a few other sweet breads.
With almond and custard pastes inside.
Lil' sis said she thought the food was fine, but couldn't figure out why I was so excited. I guess Happy Bakery just represents home for me. Or my SoCal version of it anyway. Long before I explored so many other bakeries or dim sum restaurants, long before I really felt like SoCal was home, I had been going here. Or maybe I just liked that despite such a devastating fire, Happy Bakery was down but not out, having recovered and reopened bigger and better than before.
Welcome back Happy Bakery!
Other Chinese bakeries:
Kee Wah Bakery - Monterey Park
Kiki Bakery - Alhambra
Kiki Bakery - Monterey Park
MoMo Bakery - Alhambra
Vanille de Patisserie - San Marino
846 E. Valley Blvd., Ste. B
San Gabriel, CA 91776
6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
1 year ago today, how I was in four places at once at Four Corners Monument - Shiprock - New Mexico.
2 years ago today, frozen yogurt at CeFiore - Monterey Park (Closed).
3 years ago today, empanadas and a New York steak sandwich at Tito's Market - El Monte.