When we learned that Bino’s was closing down after so many years, we immediately started to wonder what would take its place. All these greasy spoon diners are shuttering left, right and center. Bino’s. Top’s. Reno’s. Well, a few weeks ago, my mom told me that it had been replaced by a cha chaan teng (Hong Kong style cafe). I heard some mixed reviews of the place, but I wanted to see for myself.
So, we went for breakfast one day and I saw the name: Happy Day Cafe. I half-jokingly said to Susanne that it might be connected to Happy Date in Richmond. After all, that restaurant says “Happy Date” on the signage but “Happy Day” on the receipt for some reason. It turned out that the joke was on me.
The interior is decidedly newer, fresher and more modern than counterpart across the bridge, but Happy Day on Kingsway in Vancouver is undeniably linked to Happy Date on Park Road in Richmond. This was triple-confirmed when I took a look at the breakfast menus.
On the “western” side of the breakfast menu, you’ll find variations on meat and eggs, omelettes, and breakfast sandwiches, among other items. These typically all come with a hot beverage and you can combo some of them up for a discount.
Unlike Happy Date in Richmond, though, the carb option here includes the choice of French toast, just like at Duotian Fish Soup Noodles Restaurant and Angel Cake Cafe on Fraser. That’s a huge plus in my books. Alternatively, you can get regular toast or hash browns.
We didn’t opt for anything from the “Asian” side of the breakfast menu, but it is there if you’re interested. The best value combines a bowl of congee with your choice of side. I’ll likely come back one day for the preserved egg and pork congee with a Chinese donut. That’d run me $7.50, but the “Chinese” breakfast doesn’t come with a drink. Of course, there’s the venerable Congee Noodle King across the street too.
Speaking of drinks, Happy Day isn’t exactly trying to reinvent the wheel. We got a hot milk tea and a hot coffee-tea mixed, both of which were served up quite promptly. Par for the course.
What you see here is the Spanish Style Omelette ($6.95, Item C) with the included French toast and the aforementioned hot beverage. A Spanish omelette is somewhat similar to a Denver omelette, offering a mix of ham, mushrooms, and green peppers. You’ll also notice the small slice of cantaloupe in the back, as well as the tiny dish of table syrup for the French toast.
Again, hardly breathtaking, but the presentation is reasonably clean and the food tastes fine. Service was also surprisingly friendly, which is decidedly rare in restaurants like this.
For our other breakfast, we opted for the “OG Selection” option (Item B) on the breakfast menu, choosing Pork Sausage and Two XL Fried Eggs ($6.25), also with the French toast. When you order “sausage” at any other breakfast joint, you expect to get breakfast sausage. When you order it at a Hong Kong cafe, you get a hot dog. It’s a slightly bigger hot dog, but it’s a hot dog nonetheless.
We made a noodle combo out of one of our breakfasts (upgrading the price to $8.50), going with Satay Beef with Macaroni. Imagine our surprise when we got this cute little bowl with the handle on the side. It might not look particularly large, but because it’s so deep, there’s actually a good amount of noodle in there. The branding on the side is a nice touch too.
Further to our surprise, the server provided a special bowl and spoon just for Addie too. It’s not very often you find kid-friendly anything at a Hong Kong style cafe.
Happy Day Cafe is not going to win any awards. The food is hardly inspired and the menu isn’t the best value in town, but it is certainly a solid option for anyone looking for a Hong Kong style breakfast along this Kingsway corridor. There’s lots of parking in the back and the clean, bright and spacious interior is a welcome sight. I prefer Duotian overall, partly because it’s cheaper and partly because it’s closer to home, but Happy Day ain’t half bad either.
I just have to remember that they’re closed Tuesdays. If you end up here on a Tuesday, you can walk half a block over to Honolulu Cafe instead. They’re almost the same thing.