Local Flavor- Happy Chang’s Review by P-Dish
Happy Chang’s Review By P-Dish
We were the first ones there. Pulling into a non-descript, neglected strip mall, I did not have high hopes for Happy Chang, the Thai restaurant my mother had been raving about to me..Since she appreciates my affinity for Thai cuisine, and knowing that I had yet to find one I loved in North county, I was a willing yet cautious participant.
Stepping in, we were greeted by Randy the owner (aka Mr. Miyagi, I’ll explain later), and Daniel our server. My reticent mood quickly changed. They were welcoming and attentive and seemed happy to have us..I looked around the restaurant and couldn’t help but be pleasantly surprised. The restaurant was very cute and extremely clean. Such an interesting contrast from the outside! I could sense that there was thought and devotion by the owners Randy and Supawdee (Sue) Permpoon for Happy Chang.
After being seated, Daniel brought us a bowl of mushroom soup. It was wonderful and had the perfect balance of flavors that Thai food is known for; salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. I decided to order the Panang Curry, with seafood and my mom ordered Pad Thai with pork. I’ll start by saying the the servings are copious, especially for lunch. Both entrees were beautifully prepared. I was impressed by the freshness of the seafood which included shrimp, calamari, and mussels. The Panang Curry itself was so good that I could imagine myself drinking it from a cup. However, for all of you heat freaks like me, I ordered mine spicy level 8 which seemed mild to me. Daniel said that next time I could order my spice level beyond 10 if I wanted to. In fact, he has customers come in wanting to basically be in tears and he is happy to oblige. My mom enjoyed her Pad Thai even though she was only able to finish a third of it.
Randy came out and started telling us about his restaurant and his life. He arrived in the U.S. with little money and unable to speak English. His wife Sue is the chef and he sings her praises. He said that they opened Happy Chang in 2004, and although they have wanted to change locations (neglected strip mall), his loyal customers won’t let him leave. He also said that his son has no real interest in the restaurant and would rather be an engineer but Randy seems perfectly content with this. His nickname Mr. Miyagi comes from his interest in hiring college age kids and molding them into better human beings. I watched him interacting with two employees, and I could see that he lives up to his nickname.
I left Happy Chang knowing that I had found my favorite Thai restaurant in North County and happy that my mother had introduced me to this diamond in the rough.
1450 West Mission Rd.
San Marcos, Ca 92069