AFTER 14 years of living in Ireleth, we’re just about to put our house on the market.

There are many things I’ll miss when we eventually sell. Askam is an underrated part of the area, with far more going for it than people in Barrow or Ulverston realise.

Apart from the spectacular beach and the stunning views, it’s a great community where everybody knows everybody else.

But there is one thing about Askam I’ll miss more than anything: and that’s the Happy Garden Chinese takeaway in Duke Street. We didn’t know it existed until quite some time after moving into the area. I casually mentioned to a Barrovian friend that we lived in Askam and he replied in awestruck terms, “you lucky, lucky things!”

Now, that is not the usual response people give when I tell them I live in Askam, so I was intrigued. Which was when he informed me that we lived near the best Chinese in the area – if not the entire North West.

It’s certainly one of the most popular, as we were to discover. Friday and Saturday evenings regularly see customers queuing outside the door; and telephone orders can often involve a wait of more than two hours for the food.

People come from far and wide (well, certainly Barrow) to eat from here. In the years we’ve been Happy Garden customers, we have not once had anything even remotely resembling a duff dish. It’s so good that my stepson’s Malay Chinese wife loves to eat from there whenever they come over to visit. Which suits me fine because she is a fantastic cook, while my idea of authentic oriental cuisine is a jar of Sharwood’s Kung Po sauce and some Uncle Ben’s rice.

This week it was my stepdaughter’s chance to partake of the delights of the Happy Garden, as she and her husband stopped off en route to Scotland. Even a midweek evening involved more than an hour’s wait before we could collect the food, so busy is this unassuming little takeaway. We started with sesame prawn toasts (£4) with a tangy sauce, hot and sour soup (£2.40) and wun tun soup (£2.60).

The toasts were demolished in a matter of minutes, they were so yummy. The hot and sour soup was packed with prawns and veg and was sinus-clearingly scrumptious.

I wasn’t particularly bowled over by the wun tun soup, finding it a little bland and I wasn’t keen on the consistency – but I’m sure that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be, so I can’t complain.

Two bags of prawn crackers – thrown in as a freebie – completed the first half of this meal. For mains we ordered roast duck in plum sauce with pineapple and pickled ginger (£7.70), curried king prawn (£6.90), king prawn with ginger and spring onions (£7.10) and sliced beef fillet in Cantonese sauce (£9.30).

The Happy Garden is certainly not the cheapest takeaway in the area – but you get what you pay for; and there you get top quality.

The prawns are always huge, juicy and delicious; easily the best I have tasted from a takeaway. The prawn with ginger and spring onions is my favourite regular dish. It’s so fresh on the palate.

The curries are thick and packed with crunchy vegetables, including slices of celery and carrot, which really lift this out of the ordinary in terms of takeaway curry.

At £9.30 the sliced beef fillet is relatively pricy but it was a huge hit with my stepdaughter and her husband. The beef was tender and plentiful and the sauce deliciously piquant.

The star of the show was the duck dish, which wouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant – even slopped messily onto a plate by me. Succulent duck – and plenty of it – in a rich sauce which somehow manages to combine the tastes of plum, pineapple and ginger to perfection. It’s a seriously impressive dish and at £7.70 it’s superb value.

Obviously, I can’t mark the Happy Garden for service or for atmosphere, although I’m giving it an imaginery five for the latter, on the grounds that the shop is well lit, there’s seating in the waiting area and they provide a copy of the Evening Mail for customers to read while they’re waiting for their grub.

It will certainly be a wrench when the time comes to leave the Askam area. Where we’ll be moving to I have no idea yet.

But there is one deal-breaker as far as I am concerned. Wherever we move to, it must be no more than a half-hour drive from the Happy Garden.


  • Quality ingredients
  • Authentically oriental
  • Restaurant-quality dishes


  • They don’t take cards for payment
  • Be prepared for a wait at peak times