p Picks and Pecks: review: chicken rice at happy mansion

Friday, July 13, 2012

review: chicken rice at happy mansion

Address: CG-1, Happy Mansion Apartments, Jalan 17/13, Section 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya
Phone: 016-280 9043 (James)

At first, Happy Mansion sounded like the home of Ronald McDonald, but when a friend said there was chicken rice, served by a cranky proprietor who didn't think twice about barking orders, it sounded too intriguing to resist.

Thoughts of Jerry Seinfeld's Soup Nazi flitted through my head as we drove to SS17. Happy Mansions is/was the location of the Food Foundry, My Elephant and 6 to 10 Grill. With so much food in a concentrated space, no wonder its a happy place! With such company, could this guy really be that cantankerous?

Luckily we pre-empted the first hurdle of misbehavior by calling ahead and reserving our chicken and char siew. The place was busy on a Friday afternoon, and the heat was slightly stifling due to the closely set tables and chairs.

Ordering ahead was definitely the right idea - our food arrived pretty soon after we sat down and our drink orders were taken. First was the char siew, cut into much larger pieces than most other restaurants. I prefer char siew in this form much better - when the pieces are small, they tend to get too sweet... when the surface area to volume ratio of the meat is increased, there is too much sugar coating on the outside, which means that there is also the increased tendency of getting more brunt bits on the meat. The char siew here was a good mix of fat and lean.


The chicken came shortly - with a golden skin which looked like it might have been deep-fried to a golden brown. This is different from the usual poached or roasted chicken, which typically has a much darker skin. It also remained very crispy - apparently the cook prepares the birds to order, a nice change from the chickens which seem to hang in store windows from morning to night. I would hazard to guess that the chicken might have steamed, and then fried to retain the moisture that might otherwise be lost through a slow roasting.

Surprisingly the chicken was very juicy, down to the white meat which most of us seem to leave for last, preferring the more moist dark meat. Along with the char siew and the chicken, we were served with what initially seemed like white rice, but it seemed to have been flavored with ginger, garlic and ghee - the 3Gs!

We also ordered a bowl of chap chye and some choy sum to go with all this meat. The vegetable still remained a bright green, and was served with some fragrant shallots. The  sourness of the chap chye helped to cut some of the richness of the fat, a recommended (though slightly unorthodox) side dish with the chicken rice. 

Altogether, it was a very satisfying meal. I would suggest that anyone looking to have lunch here be prepared to order in advance. Apparently the key is to have all the dishes you want to order already pre-planned out, so that the owner is able to get your order down as efficiently as possible - since when is efficiency a moral failing?

Address: CG-1, Happy Mansion Apartments, Jalan 17/13, Section 17, 46400 Petaling Jaya
Phone: 016-280 9043 (James)