Happy Palace

Note: Happy Palace is now closed
Chinese food was very exotic when I was growing up in the 1980’s.  It was all about the prawn crackers, lemon chicken and beef with black bean sauce.  So I felt a touch nostalgic wandering up the stairs to Happy Palace on Bourke street for the restaurant’s launch.  Serial restauranter Jerome Borazio has taken over this old school Chinese restaurant with its chintzy red and gold wall hangings.  He’s added a bar, a balcony and some live scorpions (yes really) but otherwise left the decor pretty much in a 1980’s time warp.

The drug mules death row at Happy Palace

This perfectly preserved slice of the decade of big shoulder pads and ra ra skirts is a fun restaurant, perfect for dinners with big groups of friends and lots of drinks.  You’re not just limited to green tea either.   Instead there’s cocktails like the cheekily named Duck You! Duck Face! and my favourite, the Drug Mules Death Row.  It’s made with chilli and ginger infused vodka with a bit of zest from a muddled lime and ginger beer to bring out the infusion in the vodka.

Prawn crackers at Happy Palace

The food is just like you remember as Westernised Chinese – but minus the MSG.  Of the starters my favourites were the golden brown deep fried wontons filled with creamy crab and the pork balls which were rolled in crisp egg noodles and chilli caramel.  Happy Palace’s take on prawn crackers was not as successful as the tiny deep fried prawns erred on the dry side.

Kitsch decor at Happy Palace

The Mu Shu Pork came served like Peking Duck with floury pancakes and lashings of hoisin sauce.  But the best dish was the braised eggplant with the eggplant slow cooked until it was silky in sweet bean sauce and topped with minced tofu.

Braised eggplant

I didn’t have time to stick around for dessert due to the joys of moving house but by all reports the mango pudding shaped like a goldfish and swimming in a pond of condensed milk syrup was the perfect kitsch ending to a meal at Happy Palace.  Bring back the 80’s!

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Gourmet Chick was invited to review Happy Palace. 

Details: Happy Palace, 86 Bourke street, Melbourne 3000 (Ph 03 9972 3699) Open: Mon – Sat 11am – 1pm and Sun 11am-10.30pm.
Damage: Reasonable but on this occasion I did not pay.


  1. I got really excited when I heard about this place. I love anything from the 80s (even though it’s kinda uncool to do so these days) and I love Westernised Chinese food every now and then (what, did I really say that?)

    Looking forward to sussing this place out soon… but I’ll stay away from the scorpions. Eek!

  2. oh yay you are moving!!!!! excitement!

    Those prawn crackers look good. Ah i’ll add this place to the never ending list!

  3. Libby – Well if you love anything from the 80s and Westernised Chinese food this is perfect for you! Look forward to hearing what you think.

    Shellie – I know, finally… yes one to put on the list.

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