Homemade egg rolls and weekend take out
Sacramento, CA 95817
Opened in 2010, Happy Takeout was a Chinese restaurant a step above a hot wok. In 2018, a new Happy Takeout Instagram account appeared, showcasing photos of homemade egg rolls, crab cheese wontons, foil wrap chicken, bright green veggies and huge chunks of barbecue pork in chow mein.
The former owners had moved on to open a Fire Wings location and in 2017, a new family had taken the reins. Cindy Boc (who used to work at Alonzo’s in the 1980s) and Sinh Dich fled Vietnam in the ’70s. Diana Dich is their daughter, the youngest of five siblings. Although the whole operation is still guided by the parents, Diana is at the restaurant every weekday from open to close.
“I’m the cook, cashier, whatever needs to get done,” Diana says.
I had not been to Happy Takeout since 2010. But love at first sight brought me back. I saw a photo on Instagram of its Green Bean Beef ($8.75) over Veggie Chow Mein (with locally sourced noodles) and the dish proved every bit as delicious in real life as it appeared online. I didn’t bother to try to sit at the metal tables in one of the few uncomfortable chairs inside the “dining room.” Instead, I stood out front. I happily, if awkwardly, balanced the weighty container of sweltering, sauced, soft and chewy egg noodles, crunchy green beans and tender beef slices. The flavor of soy sauce deepened by the quick dance with the wok hei (breath of the wok).
The Cashew Chicken ($7.75) with stir-fried zucchini is loaded with meaty cashews that still retain their crunch, plus crisp water chestnuts. The Walnut Shrimp ($9.75) contains actual candied walnuts that take more than an hour to make from start to finish. For vegetarians, the Hot Garlic Tofu ($7.75) is a combination of carrots, green bell peppers and sauteed chunks of tofu cloaked in a spicy soy-based sauce. The fried prawns ($5.95) are hand-breaded and butterflied, resulting in a large, flat surface covered in crunchy breading leaving the shrimp protected inside.
The good news is that you can have all of the deliciousness delivered to your house on those blustery windy days. Dive into the satisfyingly crispy salt and pepper fish without having to deal with traffic, bad weather or getting out of your pajamas.
And don’t feel bad about that. Because of Happy Takeout’s microscopic dining area, the restaurant is missing an opportunity for more customers. The dining room could definitely use a coat of paint, new tables and chairs, a dusting of the wood blinds and a good scrubbing of the tile floor. The interior does not match the food and the warmth of the family who runs it. For now, this is a takeout-only place.