The resurrection of Melbourne’s once loved Happy Palace, comes as the year of snake begins. According to the Chinese zodiac the snake shies from people seeing its body, making it a sly, calm, quiet and lonely animal who only attacks when it is hungry. One fact I found interesting was that the snake and the tiger do not get along. In fact, they seem to have a deep seeded hatred of one another. This worried me, as I am a tiger. Thankfully however, this zodiac beef did not impact on my enjoyment of the Happy Palace’s food.

The Happy Palace is filled with suburban nostalgic kitsch - think red walls, 1980’s chandeliers, golden waving cats, scorpions and tacky Chinese woodwork all painted in gold. This is exactly the look Jerome Borazio and Josh Lefers set out to achieve. The Happy Palace is an ode to yesteryear, where suburban families would go to their local Chinese shop (which always made the best Chinese takeout), and order their fluorescent lemon chicken and special fried rice.

What the Happy Palace does not share with the suburban Chinese takeout of yesteryear is MSG ladened food, which resulted in a thin layer of oil coating ones mouth (the only cure was a deep fried ice cream). In fact all the sauces and marinades are made in-house under the guise of head chef Kim-Maree More, who earned her black belt in Asian fusion dishes at Seamstress and Movida. 

Signature dishes of the restaurant include Mu Shu Pork (a Chinese DIY taco), KUNG POW! Chicken that has the level of spice you’d expect from a round-house kick from Bruce Lee, and Mapo Tofu (silken tofu, soybean paste, Szechuan pepper and green leeks).

The Happy Palace is like a time capsule to a place where un-matched melamine plates and MSG are the norm. A place where an old man sits in the corner eating his daily plate of fried rice and bbq pork in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, and thanks to Jerome Borazio and Josh Lefers this place wont be forgotten… Not yet anyway.



21 March 2013
The Happy Palace
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