Tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of 109th street you’ll find Happy Garden. Nestled among the big trees and old houses of Parkallen stands an Edmonton institution. Credited as being the first home of the Edmonton green onion cake, it was Siu To who pointed me in its direction.
“Best green onion cakes in Edmonton. Even now. They still make it like I showed them,” he told me.
The current owner worked as the head chef for Siu until she and her family bought it from him in 1986. It doesn’t look like much has changed. There are rumblings online that it may have seen some renovations, but I don’t detect any obvious upgrades. Forest green, plastic table cloths look like they have been on the tables for so long, they may have melted into them. But we didn’t come for the atmosphere.
My first order of business is to scour the wall. Judy had tipped me off that one of her readers had sent her a picture of her original review that hung on the wall. Might it still be there? Of course it was. Along with a few other glowing reviews from over the years.
I take a bit too long pouring over them before I am beckoned excitedly by my friend. Apparently she has spent the last ten minutes eavesdropping on a grandpa and his two grandchildren (the only other patrons in the restaurant) discussing the possible adaptations of green onion cakes. The kiddos seem set on their breakfast creation: green onion cakes and maple syrup.
I simply cannot wait to taste it here. Especially after I read THIS on the menu:
I also order the Mu Shu Pork (both because I love Mu Shu Pork and because I love saying Mu Shu. Muuuu Shuuu).
Everything arrives faster than I expect given the warning.
This is a more traditional green onion cake than I’ve been sampling of late. Unlike the variety served at most Vietnamese restaurants in town, this one is grilled rather than deep fried. It has a light sheen to it, but it doesn’t seem that the oil has permeated into the dough. I should also mention that it is served HOT.
With the first bite I am in green onion cake heaven. I’ve eaten so many meh cakes of late I was really starting to wonder how these things got a hold on our fair city. THIS cake, fellow #yeggers, is why. Served with a sauce of Sambal Oelek mixed with soy sauce, it was crisp on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside. Salted; not salty. A (very) mild green onion flavour present, but subtle. It is the epitome of comfort food. And they’re a steal at only $3.00 a piece!
I gobble half, making sure to leave some for leftovers (sorry Siu!). I only leave room for a taste of the pork, but it too is delectable (even better the next day).
Happy Garden is a little oasis in the middle of an Edmonton winter; a happy garden frozen in time. And look what my fortune said:
10 stars out of 5