This must be one of the most simple and accessible bar openings in Sydney of late. While new bars are touting extravagant fitouts and esoteric new drinking lists, at Happy D’s it’s just dumplings, beer and good vibes. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we just wanted it to be a fun thing,” says Andrew Watts, the bar half of this operation. The other half, usually in close proximity to the dumpling steamer, is his mum Debra Watts. Together they’ve done everything here, the menu, the drinks, the fit-out – the lot.
Visually there’s a lot to compare to Pinbone – the fitout is unashamedly low budget with bare-brick walls (heavy goldish curtains over some), a bright red bar and simple kitsch decorations that allude to all the Australian-Chinese restaurants that have influenced Debra’s cooking and the idea here – the most prominent being a fake fish tank that stretches the length of the bar. “It’s all pretty retro, kind of taking the piss. We've been encouraging locals to bring things to put in the fish tank,” says Watts. The most serious aspect is probably the quality sound system that pumps out disco, ‘60s and ‘70s soul and on Saturdays, the occasional live DJ.
The dumpling recipes come from Debra’s previous position as owner-operator at Yum Cha Catering. The range covers nine steamed dumplings, mostly popular styles (prawn gow gee, barbeque pork buns, mixed mushroom) plus some Shanghainese pork soup dumplings and a weekly special that will vary from classic Chinese to completely experimental. “We'll move into fried things and start to push the boundaries with other (non-dumpling) dishes in the future,” says Watts.
The drinks list is similarly simple albeit with a few more progressive choices. Asahi is on tap but there’s also Japanese craft beers, a range (in price and flavour) of Japanese whisky and sake, a trio of vaguely Asian-inspired cocktails, and a short but strong by-the-glass wine list. “I obviously wanted to match everything to the dumplings as best I could. The whites will be on the drier side and the reds on the lighter side,” says Watts.
169 Regent St, Redfern
Tue to Fri 12pm–3pm, 5pm–10pm