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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel

Three years ago, Happy Bakery - Alhambra burned down. :( After several years of seeing nothing going up in the old location, I figured the owners decided to retire. So, tipped off by the Two Hungry Pandas, I was sooo excited to see them reopen last November.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 1

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.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 2

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 3

But the much larger new location also meant a much larger variety of breads and pastries.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 4

And cookies!

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 5

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 6

Way more desserts than before.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 7

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 8

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 9

My haul.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 10

I ordered har gow (Chinese shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (Chinese meatball dumplings).

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 11

A few egg tarts, a barbecued pork bun, a curry puff pastry, and hom sui gok (Chinese sticky rice meat dumplings).

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 12

The taro bread had taro paste inside.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 13

On another visit, I got a few other sweet breads.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 14

With almond and custard pastes inside.

Happy Bakery - San Gabriel 15

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

Happy Bakery
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.


  1. It's quite interesting how they also do some dim sum items! Very convenient. And I like how their taro paste doesn't have food coloring added.

    Ha, there's certainly lots of nostalgia with bakeries! I've been going to the ones I frequent since they opened around 10 years ago.

  2. I would love to work there! My baking skills aren't that good yet, but I would really like to work in a bakery one day. That's like my life's dream. :)Everything looks soooo good. Maybe I will check out that bakery one day if I ever go to that area.

  3. Gasp! Baklava!! Hah, who buys that there?! Man those taro puff buns are killing me. They look so good (and cute!). I love Asian bakeries - good find!

  4. The interesting thing about Orange County, at least as I have experienced it, is that people, businesses, entire buildings or even whole neighborhoods can disappear, to be replaced by something entirely new. Disconcerting. It's nice--even important--to be able to sense a passage of time, to be able to go back to the places you enjoyed way back when. Gives a sense of continuity and community. (um, have you ever tried that interesting looking taro puff pastry ball in the photo??)

  5. ETE,
    Before I got smart and realized I could get dim sum to go from the dim sum restaurants, this was a great way to get it.

    My dream is a coffee shop/bakery/bookstore/floral shop. :P

    Yeah, I was surprised to see the baklava too, but love that they have it.

    There's a lot of in-fill in OC too just because there's no more room to build. The taro ball is a thousand layer mooncake I think? I don't really care for the paste and it doesn't taste as flaky as it looks. In this case, I think looks trump taste.


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