In its short lifespan Asian-inspired burger joint Happy Boy has become a landmark of Manukau Road. The eatery — from the owners behind northern Thai restaurant Kiss Kiss — sticks out like a signal flare in the Royal Oak shops — the neons are visible from a few hundred metres down the road, flagging down burger lovers and possibly a few aircraft in the process. The group worked with Meide Studio to develop the super futuristic dining room.
The idea for the opening was set alight after Jasper and Ludo Maignot and business partner Celeste Thornley moved into Onehunga, spotted the building for lease, and noticed that the dining scene in the area was missing something: "an eatery that was suitable for the whole family, and a meal that wouldn't break the bank."
The place was rammed on this particular visit, though the server suggested that the wait time shouldn't be longer than ten minutes. By the time we got around to ordering drinks at the counter, our table was ready. As well as the front dining room, the eatery boasts a heated courtyard out the back, styled in similar tropical chic as Kiss Kiss with palm fronds and a vibrant graffiti wall. The long tables are also shared between smaller groups which makes it feel like you're part of something bigger. The soundtrack was first-rate. It was absolutely humming.
Burgers are the core focus at Happy Boy. They call the offerings "simple", but you should expect far more than your average beef and bun. There are five burgers on the menu, led by steamed buns (oversized Chinese bao) and each with their own Asian tilt.
We decided to roll with the beef with cheese, the katsu chicken and the gouchuan pork belly. The buns were the defining element of each burger — soft, light, slightly chewy, like biting into a perfect marshmallow.
The chicken was like Japanese donburi in burger form and offered a superior crunchy coating; the beef missed the juice factor though was lifted by the combo of barbecue sauce and sriracha mayo; and the pork was a glorious explosion of flavour and sauce — you'll need napkins for this one. We'll definitely be returning for the sesame crusted tofu and soft shell crab.
Sides-wise, you'll find classic shoestring fries paired with that addictive sriracha mayo, chicken nibbles in three varieties, Vietnamese slaw and panko chicken bites. The space also comes armed with a decent drinks list, offering a short run of craft beers and slushie machines that pump out adult varieties like pina colada and whiskey apple sour. Very happy boy.
Image: Errin Cerna