Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Happy Family Chinese Restaurant

spotlight030In the old days, when I wanted my Chinese food fast, I had to construct a device that could open a rift in the time-space continuum, travel thirty minutes or so into the future, get my food and then travel back to the past in order to prevent a copy of myself from roaming the earth and tearing existence as we know it apart.

spotlight030

(Photo: News-Press)

 

In the old days, when I wanted my Chinese food fast, I had to construct a device that could open a rift in the time-space continuum, travel thirty minutes or so into the future, get my food and then travel back to the past in order to prevent a copy of myself from roaming the earth and tearing existence as we know it apart.

As I was ordering from Happy Family and preparing to eliminate my future-self so that my present-self could continue to live, I was told that the order would take ten minutes. Impressed, I put away the time-machine and biked over to the restaurant, located on South Washington street next to a barbershop and across from Meat in a Box.

As far as décor goes, Happy Family has none to speak of. There’s nowhere to sit and nowhere to park. This is a place that focuses on making food and having it eaten somewhere else, which I respect. So I stocked up on Chinese-American dishes and returned to my cave, eager to see what shows on Netflix would pair well with a particular dish.

The food itself varies in quality from dish to dish. The fried crab wontons were pretty dry and tasted almost like a soft fortune cookie stuffed with a vaguely crustacean-based sauce. I ordered some ribs as well, hoping for some Mongolian or Korean-style deliciousness, but instead they were as dry as the Gobi desert and resembled the fabled Mongolian Death Worm in color and somewhat in their danger to humans. Perhaps they are supposed to be cooked that way, but I prefer some juice in my meat.

However, the main dishes are nothing to be snidely dismissed. The crispy beef was almost perfect, and the dish wasn’t watered-down with too many carrots or too much sauce. It was simply fried beef strips, which is about as close to heaven as most of us will get in this life.

The pork-fried rice was a quality dish, and although a little dry, was not scant on pork. It was served in a slightly-larger-than-usual box, and it made me glad to see that at least one Chinese food restaurant wasn’t skimping on portions. Add a bit of sauce (soy, duck, etc.) to counteract the dryness and you’ll be set for a night of Netflix or another NCIS marathon.

Another respectable aspect of Happy Family is the large vegan menu. The fake-meat is almost as good as the regular, and probably saves you a few hundred calories. I’ve never really been into saitan and other fake meats, but to see a restaurant that isn’t exclusively vegetarian/vegan with a decent-sized vegan menu was inspiring. Maybe not Kerri Strug from the 1996 Summer Olympics inspiring, but inspiring nonetheless.

While every Chinese place may be like every other Chinese place, the subtle but important differences at Happy Family are presumably what has kept them in business since 1996. As their menu says (and I’m not editing this in any way), “Food=Healthy, Cookery=Art+Skill, MSG=Zero, Customer=Friends”. I probably couldn’t have said it better myself. If you want your Chinese food fast but don’t want to ruin the space-time continuum, Happy Family is your best bet.

Happy Family Chinese Restaurant

301 South Washington Street
Falls Church, VA
703-534-3838

Hours:

Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.