Yesterday I sky-trained and bussed my way to The Suburban Well, only to find this sign.  “Fiddlesticks!” I cursed.  Or something of the like.

Trekking to a restaurant to find it shut down happens fairly regularly.  With over 800 restaurants competing for business, you’ve got to know what you’re doing, or at least find a niche, or else you’ll soon be replaced by yet another hopeful restauranteur.  I didn’t know why The Suburban Well closed, but I did know there weren’t any other restaurants nearby, and I had a cake-sized hole in my stomach (they’d served it at their adjoining cafe and I was really looking forward to it).  I’ll point out now that I don’t actually think these are real problems.

I hopped back on a bus towards No. 3, got off at Brighouse Station, and headed east on Park Road.  I hadn’t made it far when I spotted Happy Date, and went straight in.  You can’t just walk past a place called Happy Date, now can you?

This is an HK-style restaurant as bare bones as they come.  Based on other blogs that have written about it, it’s been around since the beginning of time.  Or at least several decades.  It’s absolutely zero frills.

There’s nothing on the walls, the tables are old, and the small bakery area to the left of the front door is kind of crumbling. The place is like a much bigger, slightly brighter version of Lido.

The two paper menus on the table were filled with various lunch specials and combos, most of which included tea and soup, and were between $7 and $11.  I decided to get another baked dish, and ordered the baked fish fillet with rice.  With soup and a drink, the large portion was $10.95, but I asked for the small instead, which didn’t come with soup but included tea.  It came to about $8 altogether.

I can’t conceive of just how large the Large portion must be, because the Small was way more food than I needed.

The casserole dish was filled with white rice and two large slices of battered white fish, then covered in rich cream sauce, sprinkled with vegetables and cheddar cheese, and baked in the oven.  Without the bits of frozen vegetables and grated cheese, the whole thing would have been white and beige, with a touch of pale.

You’re right – that isn’t a flattering description, but as I was eating (and really enjoying) it, it dawned on me what this dish and others in HK-style restaurants reminds me of: food of the 1950’s North American housewife.  Cream sauce, frozen vegetables, minute rice, and everything baked, casserole-style, in a hot oven are some of the quintessential ‘culinary’ elements of post-WWII North American food.  While much of it was awful (moulded salads, here’s lookin’ at you), some of it was downright comforting.  Devilled eggs, for instance, or a well-made tuna casserole.  The revelation was amusing, since I never thought I’d be reminded of my Nana’s cooking in a place like Happy Date.

Because their bakery looked a little downtrodden, I instead sought out a sweet at Maxim’s in Richmond Centre.  I got a small package of their cocktail (coconut) buns, and an apple pie, in tribute to the season.

I walked over to the Richmond Public Library (stopping along the way to take pictures of leaves, of course)

and sat down on the steps to eat my treats.

They were good, especially the soft and buttery coconut buns, which may just be my favourite in Richmond so far.  As for the apple pie, it tasted like an apple danish from the grocery store.  Satisfying in the moment, but kind of forgettable.

Now, I bet you’re just dying to know what I got at the library.  No?  Well I’ll tell you anyways: DOWNTON ABBEY.  The library has a fancy DVD dispenser; you reserve a movie online ahead of time, scan your library card, and the machine spits it out.  Technology is amazing!  I rarely watch TV, but I’m so excited to get into this period drama.

Pale casseroles and English soap operas – am I the easiest person to please or what?


Happy Date Restaurant

8135 Park Road, Richmond BC


Cash only

Probably a few vegetarian options available, but the menu is meat heavy