A once quiet residential area in Petaling Jaya is now a vibrant food haven. Happy Mansion that’s located in Section 17 has grown tremendously in terms of it’s bevy of eateries, with an equally buzzing crowd. You’ll be able to find almost every cuisine that’s popular among Malaysians under one roof — or in this case, within these three residential blocks.
The apartments are said to be built in the 1970s, but it was never intended to be a hub for ardent foodies. Laundry mats, hair salons, bookstores and sundry shops used to occupy the spaces that you’ve now seen evolved into brightly lit restaurants and aesthetically-pleasing cafes. Some of them are still open for business, run by old-time residents of Happy Mansion.
Food Foundry is one of the very first restaurants to open. In 2007, they started by just serving freshly-baked mille crepe cakes and now has grown to a two-store eatery and a full menu. That’s when Happy Mansion started to gain its momentum, with the opening of My Elephant soon after. Ban Huat Heng coffee shop and Choon Yien restaurant are also some of the older shops that are still operating since then until this very day — where you’ll often see packed with office workers during lunch hours.
While there are currently no bars in Happy Mansion (it’s still a residential address), you can get your caffeine fixed, multiple times we’d say. Cafes that are both modern and designed to be vintage-looking can be found here.
The ones listed above are not the only eateries. Study our neighbourhood guide and you’ll be answering to your friends like a pro when being asked: “What’s good to eat at Happy Mansion?”
Where to eat
One can go in various directions in terms of cuisine and price points. Pizza Mansion is the newest kid on the block (literally). A cosy and intimate pizzeria that’s opened from 12.30pm to 10pm, serving wood-fired pizzas with flavours and toppings beyond the classic pepperoni or Hawaiian pizza. This place is pork-free but beer is served here. My Elephant has always been the go-to place for Thai cuisine, but just around the block is Frame Thai — a cheaper alternative and a restaurant run by Thais so you can expect the authentic Thai flavours here too.
Good Blue Men serves your regular Fish n Chips, pastas and a couple of classic Western-style dishes, but have you seen the sandwiches? There are flavours such as Kam Heong Chicken, Tom Yum Fish, Achar Chicken — just to name a few, all of them are stacked high with generous amount of filling. Not exactly a place for a light meal, but if you’re not up to rice, noodles or pizzas, here’s the place. Another Asian fusion restaurant is Elsie’s Kitchen by WanEli — here‘s where you can get Siew Yoke Aglio Olio. If your main objective is to take Instagram pictures, Muse Eatery is the place to be. It’s one of the most aesthetic-looking cafes in Happy Mansion, proven with how photogenic each corner of the eatery is. They serve a full menu of pastas, burgers and toasts, so you can choose to have lunch, dinner, dessert or just coffee — and take a couple of pictures.
Where to drink (coffee)
No food haven is complete without a string of aesthetic-looking cafes — as proven with Chinatown, Bangsar and many others. Hideaway is one cosy cafe, serving just simple coffee and good old-fashioned cakes. A good, quiet place to have a cup and just unwind as the cafe is not usually pack with people. Butter and Beans is another option; a more well-known cafe in the area that’s located around the corner. Not a fan of coffee? Tanah dan Air is the first tea bar in Malaysia to offer a wide array of Chinese tea, and also specialities from around the world. Tea tasting and brewing classes are often held, almost on a monthly basis.
Ready to call it a day? Don’t leave without having dessert. Xiao by Crutz specialises in petit patisseries. Each of them handcrafted to perfection, ensuring its quality and of course, how it looks. Unless you prefer something classic, and also truly Malaysian — Kwong Wah Ice Kacang arguably serves one of the best cendol in PJ. The eatery started in 1939, but only made its way to Happy Mansion this year and it’s currently run by the third-generation owners.
Featured image: @t.w.k._