An ultra-sensory, neon-lit eatery taking burgers "into the future".
Entering into Happy Boy is like being on the set of a Harajuku video game. The futuristic space is flooded with the kind of faux glow of a gaming arcade, an effect achieved by pink neon lighting and a bright blue perspex ceiling. It’s the setting of a new Asian-inspired burger joint unlike anything we’ve seen on Auckland’s shores thus far.
The newfangled address is yet another fanciful eatery created by the underground trio that brought us Balmoral’s Kiss Kiss and Mount Albert’s Chinoiserie. Brothers Jasper and Ludo Maignot, along with Celeste Thornley, have together had a knack for creating unimaginably cool institutions that quickly reach cult status in their respective neighbourhoods and beyond. It would seem Happy Boy is no different, breathing new life into the Royal Oak ‘hood, dominated by the grandiose Pak’nSave on Manukau Road.
Punctuated by a pink, blue, white and black colour scheme, it’s a club-like vibe within. At the counter, you are expected to order from one of two tills, just as you would at a takeaway burger joint. However, these burgers are anything but run-of-the-mill. Each version, whether pork, fish, tofu or beef, is served on a hand-made steamed bun. We tried the free range cornflake karaage chicken thigh with white cabbage yuzu mayo and pickled ginger — a delectably crunchy taste sensation — alongside panko calamari, Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) wings and fries, shoestring fries with sriracha mayo and umami slaw with lemon and miso dressing. ‘Go long’ would be our advice after sampling each of the above.
The savoury, however, is just the half of it. Happy Boy’s extreme ‘sweets’ section is enough to make you blush. We suggest you share the cream covered warm brownie with miso butterscotch between you and several worthy acquaintances, and in terms of slurpables, most of the cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages (including yummy Milkshake-flavoured varieties) come in a luscious slushy form. Not to be outdone, is an exceptional line-up of organic wines and beers on tap.
After ordering what ought to be a veritable feast at the counter, gaming fans will likely want to dabble in a bit of ‘Street Fighter 2′, while others will take their place at the communal tables à la Kiss Kiss’ set-up. With über friendly staff (some of whom have been with this adept hospitality team from the start) and a young vibe that will attract all and sundry, Happy Boy is playing on the perfect balance between unexpected, other-worldly and entirely delicious.
4.20-11pm, seven days
705 Manukau Road