King's Lynn: Double Happiness

Maybe it's Lynn's best kept secret, but to be the “best takeaway” in town - and survive - it really needs to attract a few more fans.

It reminded me of that lager advert. The one with the lads feasting on “probably the best takeaway in the world” as their flat morphs into a snazzy restaurant and the cup final appears on a giant plasma screen. Eating in at Double Happiness (truth is, I expect most customers use it as a takeaway) is rather like chilling out in someone's cosy little living room.

It's probably down to the fact that it's actually a small, converted terrace house, but even so it's managed to retain the feeling of a warm and welcoming family home.

And, as with many lounges across the country during our Friday night visit, a waiter had propped up a TV in the corner so he and customers could watch the World Cup.

The goggle box isn't a permanent, distracting fixture, and the staff were eager not to offend.

“You can sit somewhere a little quieter if you like,” suggested the waitress, as we happily headed towards a great vantage point in front of the box.

Our chintzy but oh-so comfortable chairs by the net curtains probably marked the exact spot where a family sprawled out to enjoy many a past tournament.

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The tiny little bar in the corner may not have been here then but, like them, we seemed to have the place to ourselves.

“How on earth does this place keep going?” commented my friend, who like me has enjoyed many a meal from DH back at our old flat.

Right on cue, a couple of customers who'd phoned through with an order popped in and picked up some aforementioned popular takeaways.

I expect they don't realise that they're missing out on eating the food fresh from the kitchen in such a friendly and comfortable place.

We chatted about the game with the smiley waiter as he brought our Tsing Tao and Tiger beers, complimentary prawn crackers and the extensive menu.

And here's one big difference between us and the terrace's last residents - I expect they didn't have more than 70 dishes to choose from while they watched TV.

This really is unfussy food served quickly, but we've always been impressed with the amount on offer for vegetarians at Double Happiness.

Not only does it have bean curd and a variety vegetables in all manner of sauces but the rather curious veg-chicken and veg-beef, which I have never ventured to try. Both of us have made the mistake of paying up front at “all you can eat” buffets at less accommodating restaurants and had to settle for an expensive pile of rice and noodles and maybe a spring roll.

This would not happen here - DH allows you to order all you like from the menu for £13 (£14 at weekends), while politely requesting that your eyes aren't bigger than your stomach.

Choices for carnivores are arranged by meat (plus king prawn and squid), with red and green “Thai-style” curries being a recent and very fiery addition.

We stuck to ordering individually from the menu and for starters chose spring rolls and sesame prawn on toast to share, which both came with a small but attractive garnish and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.

The four piping hot mini spring rolls with a piquant, gingery filling were better than the four quarters of toast, which were a tad chewy.

My friend knew exactly what she wanted for her main course.

Since moving to Norwich and out of our shared flat in Lynn, she's missed our occasional treat of DH and, in particular, its bean curd in black bean sauce.

Sounds strange for someone with a whole city's worth of Chinese restaurants within easy reach, but apparently nothing comes close.

I must admit the smell of ginger and garlic wafting up from the hot plate as we waited for our egg fried rice and seaweed was incredibly appetising.

The sauce is laden with red, yellow and green peppers and crunchy onion and a generous helping of long strips of bean curd, with are possibly deep-fried.

I was beginning to wonder if I'd made the right decision by straying from tradition for the sake of this review and trying the mysterious Ma Po dish, which didn't have a description on the menu.

I'd asked our waiter to give me an idea, and the words “very spicy” were enough - but the small white cubes of bean curd within a pallid red sauce didn't seem particularly appealing.

But looks can be deceiving, and Ma Po turned out to be incredibly spicy and, while low on texture, the sauce was full of red chillies and had a distinctive Szechuan flavour.

It was soon time to head for real home and leave our undeservedly quiet haven behind.

Maybe it's Lynn's best kept secret, but to be the “best takeaway” in town - and survive - it really needs to attract a few more fans.

t Double Happiness, 73 Norfolk Street, King's Lynn; 01553 769400

t Where is it? Norfolk Street is off one of the major routes into King's Lynn. Head for London Road (the main approach from the south, east and west) and take the right turn into Norfolk Street with Flower Corner florists on one corner, Lidl on the other.

t Where can I park? There are usually some spaces along Norfolk Street during the evening.

t Is it non-smoking? The restaurant does not have a fixed smoking policy. It prefers its customers not to smoke, but would allow smoking if a large party requested and does have air-conditioning.

t Can I try it at home? Yes, Double Happiness has a takeaway menu and they deliver for free within the local area if your order is £12 or more.

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