Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014 • Happy Garden ranks among nation’s best

Positive online reviews propelled Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant to gain national recognition and a place among the top 20 Chinese restaurants in the United States and Canada.

After being nominated by the Chinese Restaurant Foundation based on great reviews on Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor, the restaurant underwent a process to determine the quality of food, cleanliness, atmosphere, value and customer service.

After various distinguished mystery judges dined at and evaluated the participating eateries, Happy Garden earned its place in the overall excellence category.  Additionally, the establishment garnered 888 votes from local residents and others voters.

“It totally surprised me,” said Happy Garden owner Margaret Wong. “I thought,  how can I compare to (restaurants in) New York City, Chicago, so many great chefs. To me this was totally surprising … it’s very difficult for a small town.”

Wong and general manager Phillip Yu, who helps conduct the restaurant and kitchen, were proud of their achievement and hung banners promoting their award throughout the restaurant.

Wong attributed part of their success to the healthy food Happy Garden serves, thanks to Yu, who has a master’s degree in nutrition.

“A lot of restaurants just think of taste,” said Wong. “(We have) everything fresh, not ready made. That’s the restaurant’s difference. Phillip did a lot to the kitchen to make things successful.”

Yu traveled to Newark, Calif. Monday, Jan. 6 to the 10th annual Top 100 Chinese Restaurant/ Asian Restaurants awards show and conference to accept the award.

According to its website, the Top 100 Chinese restaurant awards is a “National event that recognizes, cultivates and preserves the best in Chinese Cuisine standards and excellence.”

Wong purchased the restaurant in 2009 after the previous owner sold it to focus on his restaurant in Chester. It originally opened in 2006.

According to local Yelp reviewer Jennifer P., “Margaret and Phillip run a tight ship at Happy Garden. Their establishment is always clean and ambiance is always fun. I love bringing my family here because they really try hard to keep my kids happy and make sure they are fed quickly.”

“Not everyone can (win the award), not everyone can get it,” said Yu. “We can do it … We think we got it because Margaret and I work very hard.”