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Happy Seasons Restaurant Chinatown Manchester
Address59 Faulkner Street, Chinatown, Manchester, M1 4FF
Phone0161 236 7189
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Happy Seasons Chinatown Reviews
Restaurants Of Manchester (Thursday 24th February 2022)
Key: 5 stars = World Class!   4 stars = FANTASTIC   3 stars = GOOD   2 stars = OK   1 star = Poor

Happy Seasons Review Happy Seasons Review
Happy Seasons ~ Entrance Happy Seasons ~ Menu
Decor & Ambience World Class
A simple, small-fronted shop, giving little away about what lies within aside from the roasted meat hanging in the window along with some striking neon signage above the door.  It looks basic from the kerbside and little varies once you’re actually inside, although it’s a bit smarter than it was a few years back. To be fair though, the basic feel is all part of the charm here so you very likely wouldn’t want it to be any different in all honesty.
There’s absolutely nothing swish or high end about the place.  Table linen is basic, aka paper.  Cutlery and crockery are just as entry level. Our rice bowl cover was missing a handle.  A lick of paint wouldn’t go amiss in places, and it looks pretty DIY in spots.
Happy Seasons Review Happy Seasons Review
Happy Seasons ~ Vegetable Spring Roll Happy Seasons ~ Siu Mai
Value World Class
£55 including service for starters, mains, sides, and no booze led drinks.  Very decent really, especially since we ordered a few of the pricier proteins.

And value on the upper end wines was worth noting, as much as nobody in sight was drinking anything bar tea or Tsingtao.  £28.50 for the always punchy Duboeuf Domaine Les Chenevrieres Macon-Villages, which retails at about £16.  A 1.5x markup just can’t be moaned at, and you’ll be hard pressed to find such value anywhere.  Basically, no matter which bottle you order, they make just over a tenner off you rather than just multiplying the RRP as per standard hospo practice.
The cheapest bottle of wine; the Cuvee Blanc from Louis Vincent, which I’ve never tasted was priced at £18.  Google says that it retails for £6, so a steep 3x markup.  Proof that you should just order the expensive stuff, as you’ll be rewarded here.

The menu states a 10% service charge on bank holidays, but it was added on a random Thursday. Either way, I’m not a fan of adding a 10% service charge by default in such modest places. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have paid it on this occasion and had a fiver in cash ready to whip out when the bill landed. But still, pre added service charge is for entry level to higher end joints. In fact, no, it’s not for any joints in 2022. Just increase menu prices and pay staff more
Happy Seasons Review Happy Seasons Review
Happy Seasons ~ Char Siu Buns Happy Seasons ~ Char Siu Buns
Food & Drink World Class
We’d skipped lunch after a long day, and then after landing at a relatively late 8pm, the iconic three roast meats were all sold out for the day. When joining the back of a 10-person queue with only a single duck left in the window, you kind of saw that coming before you got inside though.

Not to worry. We ploughed on and overcompensated by ordering 3 starters between us. Veg Spring Rolls were first on the list (£4.20), and were decent. Well cooked, super crispy with an interesting Worcestersauce-esque dip.

The Siu Mai (£4.80) were, hand on heart, despite the modest surroundings, some of the best that I’ve ever had outside of Hong Kong. They are a mini obsession of mine and without question on my top 20 favourite foodstuffs list. But 95% of the ones on UK menus are miniscule, frozen, bland and utterly pointless. Not here. Even my Siu Mai-hating Editor was won over on this occasion. Plump and juicy, with prawns still semi intact rather than mincing them to hide a multitude of sins, bound with lovely, properly seasoned pork. I wanted to order 4 more, but didn’t.

Char Siu Buns (£4.20) were next up. Fluffy and light, filled the steamer basket, and were steamed to perfection, with a generous and flavour packed filling.

Kung Po King Prawns (£12.50) in that iconic glossy, amber, spice laden sauce. The prawns were huge, generous in numbers, with plenty of well-cooked veggies.

Szechuan Fillet Steak (£15.00) was a big plate of food. Tons of super tender beef fillet in a vibrant sauce, fleshed out with a hearty portion of charred spring onions. The final flourish was a sprinkle of deep-fried seaweed, which is actually super-seasoned cabbage, on the side for garnish and a bit of colour variety.

Soft Noodles (£6.50) were on point. The texture was perfect, bringing the smoky notes which only skilled wok frying can yield. Crunchy beansprouts and on-point seasoning finished the humble yet well executed plate.

Steamed Rice (£2.50) was, well, steamed rice. It was what it was. A large pot of Jasmine Tea (£1.60) was lovely, but ultimately deserved the same level of critique and break down as the steamed rice. Although tens of millions of Chinese people would be disgusted in that largely uneducated comment.
But; the Kung Po Prawns came with too much carrot, as it’s a cheap filler.  The fillet steak was plated in huge slices, which were tough to eat whilst using chopsticks and a rice bowl. Pride prevented me from asking for a knife.  And yeah, I fully understand that moaning about some fillet steak slices being too big is perhaps the very definition of a privileged first world problem.  The Szechuan sauce also lacked Scovilles.  And the spring rolls were OK, but a little gloopy inside.
Happy Seasons Review Happy Seasons Review
Happy Seasons ~ Kung Po Prawns Happy Seasons ~ Steamed Rice
Service World Class
Totally in keeping with the décor and ambiance; basic but functional and nothing wrong with it at all.  Everyone who served us was polite, worked their socks off all night, and did everything that could be expected of them.
Perhaps a little brisk and functional for some.  Expecting coats to be taken or a taxi ordered here would be silly though.  And some say that being brisk, even slightly curt in such places, is a good thing and all part of that authentic feel.  I’m undeniably one of those people.
Happy Seasons Review Happy Seasons Review
Happy Seasons ~ Soft Noodles Happy Seasons ~ Szechuan Fillet Steak
Overall World Class
I first visited Happy Seasons as an MMU student some 25 years ago. A Chinese classmate enlightened me and to this day I can still recall feeling smug about him ordering our wares from the ‘Chinese menu’, whilst most other people around us were diving into their chicken fried rice with sweet and sour chicken. Ironic then, that I now sit here in 2022, carrying infinitely more food knowledge, but also ordering from the English menu and enjoying every morsel.

This was one of those occasions where you feel utterly torn; being a person who critiques restaurants and who absolutely loves a place, but at the same time has to be objective via the use of a secretive evaluation score sheet. But let’s be honest; that’s exactly how it should be if there’s to be any consistency or standards and hence credibility or honesty in the guidance which we present to you lovely people. It’s either that or just throwing about uneducated views to knock up a vain article which is largely just there to click-grab and get a free meal on expenses. It’s not how we do things.

So, I absolutely love Happy Seasons and when people ask, it’s perennially on my top 20 must-visit Manchester dining rooms, in favour of much swisher places. Yet I’ve scored it an average 2.5 out of 5 based on plain facts and all things considered, comparing it with some of the best dining rooms in town due to scoring everybody on the same playing field.

But if you asked me off duty following a few pints, I’d probably give it a solid 4+ across the board based on it doing exactly what it tries to do. A truly honest and authentic place to eat simply and very well indeed, for not too much money, with bags of character. Those queues outside at 8pm on a freezing Thursday night, don’t lie.

I’ll say it straight; Happy Seasons is one of those iconic Manchester dining experiences which you simply cannot miss. It’s been around since the dawn of time, and I hope it’s still with us in another 20+ years.
Nothing fancy, nothing high end, with brisk service.  Who says that’s a criticism though?
Happy Seasons Review Happy Seasons Review
Happy Seasons ~ Obvious Sign! Happy Seasons ~ Window Kitchen

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