Happy Buddha claim to be ‘bringing Shanghai vegan and vegetarian comfort food’. My husband and I have had take out from them before via Sherpas, but I had been dying to try this place out and find out if the claim was true.
Its located on the corner of Fuxing Middle Road and South Shaanxi Road. It’s a little tricky to find as its on the second floor of the building on the corner. You actually have to go into a health food shop and up the stairs. It’s true that ‘up the stairs’ is less simple than it sounds when you have a pushchair and a hefty 2 year old, but going into this shop was a real treat. It’s a proper health food shop selling all sorts of things from coconut flour to nutribullets. It wasn’t completely clear, but I believe the name of the shop is Sprout Lifestyle and inside they have a Lily’s All Natural section. I made a mental note to go back when I next have some child free time to have a proper look around.
So we go up the stairs to the cafe and its a dream for me, wide open spaces, stylish and clean decor and hurray hurray a children’s play area! When I say this is the dream, I mean it really is, a nice cafe, with lovely healthy food including cakes, where you can take the kids and chill out and chat to friends is just wonderful.
There’s a large menu on the wall with the names of the dishes printed, some of which are not so self explanatory. It takes us a while to realise there are menus that you can hold and read, that have more information about what is in what. This is necessary when the dishes include ‘The Big One’, ‘Oh Honey’ and ‘The Reuben’. Not really knowing what size the portions are we order a variety of food. We order The Big One, which is a large vegan burger with plenty of added extras, a Quesadilla and the Double Layer Nachos. The food was all really tasty, as their mission statement suggests, it is proper comfort food. I find a lot of vegan and health food is cooked in a huge amount of coconut oil, which coats it with this greasy substance, it feels to me like my food is covered in sun tan cream. I really can’t stomach it. This was definitely not the case with the food in Happy Buddha. I know they do use coconut oil but it was not over powering in any way whatsoever.
The only downside for me was the a lack of options for children. They have vegan mac and cheese but apart from that there wasn’t much for our two fussy small boys to eat. Having said that they both wolfed down some of the quesadilla which was marvelous. Whether they will the next time we go who knows. That’s the joy of trying to feed small children!
If you’re English, don’t be fooled into thinking that sweet potato chips are what we call chips, they are crisps. They’re nice, but I definitely think sweet potato chips/fries/wedges whatever you call them would be a very welcome addition.
We could not work out what was happening with drinks. There seemed to be a refrigerated section with tonic water in it and my husband overheard something about coffee but other than that there was a table with some water jugs and cups so we stuck to that. There didn’t appear to be a menu for drinks which was a bit of a let down. Maybe this was just something that wasn’t immediately obvious and next time we go I’ll investigate further.
The absolute joy of the whole experience was the cake. Oh my word, the vegan chocolate cake was to die for. I asked about the ingredients and they put brown sugar in it, so if you’re totally sugar free this is not for you. Thankfully I only asked about the sugar content after I’d completely devoured it. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo, the four of us were too busy fighting to get our spoon in… it went within seconds. There were plenty of other desserts and cakes on the menu, I really can’t wait to try them.
All in all the experience at Happy Buddha was really wonderful, the place is pure joy. Its good to know that comfort food is still available if you’re living a plant based life!