According to Chinese tradition, the world offers five kinds of happiness: longevity, wealth, health, virtue and peaceful death. In the New Orleans tradition, there's one more: good food. At Five Happiness Chinese Restaurant (3605 S. Carrolton Avenue, 482-3935; www. fivehappiness.com) owners Rose Lo and Peggy Lee see to it that they spread the Chinese story of Five Happiness and always deliver delicious, quality cuisine combined with excellent value and a lively, family atmosphere.
Five Happiness has maintained a loyal customer base from all over the city since it opened in 1979. Today, the business — which includes the roomy, remodeled restaurant, the next-door banquet facility and the catering division — is busier than ever. Lo, who's been with the restaurant for 20 years, credits its popularity to the consistency of chef Tan Pham's menu of traditional Chinese offerings and signature dishes, many of which use abundant local ingredients.
"In our restaurant, you can be sure every meal is consistent as far as quality and taste," Lo says. "We are very proud of that, and we try very hard to maintain that every day. Also, one of our strengths that makes us so popular is good value. You get what you pay for and even more. You always get fresh, good-quality ingredients and good portions."
Traditional dishes include favorites like sweet-and-sour shrimp, Peking duck, General's Chicken and seven varieties of fried rice, including one with crawfish tails. The chef's tasty creations include shrimp with honey-roasted pecans and a flavorful, baked duck that's marinated and oven-roasted.
Both the venue and the food lend themselves to parties of all sizes. There are cozy banquettes for small groups, but Five Happiness regularly accommodates groups of 10, 20 and even 30 people for birthday parties, rehearsal dinners and other gatherings. The banquet facility, available for private functions, costs $20 per person. The restaurant delivers to many areas of the city and is open every day.
"There is a place to go [on Christmas] if you don't want to cook at home," Lo says. "You get the combination of the food, the service and the price. It's a great package, especially in this economy."