Max and Happy’s fairy tale didn’t just end in happily ever after, the next chapter sees them opening Happy Chappy.

Max and Happy’s fairy tale didn’t just end in happily ever after, the next chapter sees them opening Happy Chappy.

AFTER THEIR LARGE and public wedding in 2010, many might have thought that Max and Happy would just live quietly like any royal couple. Max, more formally known as Prince Tjok Gus Kerthyasa, son of the head of Bali’s royal family, and his celebrity wife, Happy Salma would not have any of that.

I would characterize the couple simple and very down to earth, as I met them one afternoon. It wasn’t the first time I had met them, but both seemed very soft spoken and charming. The setting of our meeting was the middle of their restaurant, Happy Chappy on one of the back streets of Seminyak. Of course I ask, why a Chinese restaurant. “I just love Chinese food,” Max quickly answers. “Since I was a kid, growing up in Sydney, we always ate Chinese food. We would always use to hang out in Chinatown, it was something that we always ate.”

“My partners and I have been talking about opening a Chinese restaurant for more than five years, because in Bali there aren’t really many choices when it comes to Chinese, especially around Seminyak. So we thought it would be a good opportunity. It just took us a while to get organized, and finally we made it a reality,” Max reveals.

Of course we gravitate to favorite dishes. “My favorites are char siu, roast duck and dim sum, I like xiao liong bao, and different dumplings, and the seafood, steamed fish,” Max shares.

Happy adds: “I am a bit picky when it comes to Chinese food. When not done well, some Chinese food can be greasy and oily and can cause headaches.” Happy shares that she doesn’t really like duck, because it can have a gamey taste, but surprisingly, the chefs at Happy Chappy cook duck really well. “So now I am quite obsessed with duck,” Happy exclaims. “I enjoyed the food tasting we did before opening Happy Chappy. I had just given birth then and was breast feeding, so I had a big appetite. I love the prawns in salted egg, which had a good balance of saltiness, also all the vegetable dishes, which were very fresh and delicious.”

I ask the couple, aside from Chinese food, what cuisines do they like. “I like Japanese food and Sundanese food. Anything fresh, with lots of vegetables. I also like Vietnamese food. In Bali, we usually go to Take for Japanese.”

For Max, real Balinese food hits the spot, he says. “Home cooked Balinese meals are hard to beat. One unusual thing we get to eat are bees. They are stir fried with spices and some vegetables, they dish can be sweet and spicy. There’s also a stewed chicken dish which my grandmother makes, we call it ayam tim but it is very different from the Chinese style. This one has many spices.”

And true to form, Max shares his thoughts on Balinese cuisine. “No other cuisine has that many spices in one dish, so that really makes it very unique from other cuisines. Cooking with all these spices can be difficult because you have to balance them all together. And that is something you can only learn from years of experience. You can’t just put all the spices in a blender. Someone really has to chop them all up and use a mortar and pestle to crush them and blend them together. It always tastes much better.”

With Happy Chappy around a year old, they have already expanded and have opened their first branch in Canggu. An addition to their first location is their bar which serves interesting oriental-style cocktails. So if you are craving Chinese food on the Island, you can pop over to Happy Chappy and might run into the handsome couple of Max and Happy.

Jalan Braban no. 62, Banjar Taman, Seminyak, Bali
IG @happychappychinese

Written by Jed Doble Photographs by AKI August 27, 2016.