Chinese restaurant in Madrid

Maria Mendoza


Are you a Chinese food lover? Do you want to know which is the first Chinese restaurant that opened in Madrid? Would you like to go and try it? From Buscatea we reveal the secret with this article. Ready to find out?

It was 1974 and the panorama of Spanish gastronomy would be revolutionized with the arrival of the first Chinese restaurant in the capital.The concept was the most exotic and extravagant thing that could be imagined at the time. The mysteries of the distant Asian country were revealed through a decoration never seen in Madrid at the moment, the staff (Chinese) and especially the type of food of the establishment. A population accustomed to the traditional, this new opening caused many to dare to leave the classic in terms of the palate aside and dare to try new things that seemed that could only be done if you traveled to the Asian continent. This famous Chinese restaurant is El Buda Feliz and the culprits of starting to open the way to East Asian food are Mercedes Wu with her husband Roman Wang. His goal from the beginning was to create something big, elegant and distinguished from the rest of the Chinese restaurants that could be at that time. Without experience in hospitality they launched to create something of great quality and that had a family stamp, each member of the family has a role in the service of the premises.

Mercedes Wu, one of the founders of Happy Buddha in 1974

The first thing they did was a selection of a team of kitchen professionals, who were all Chinese and a room team, who were all Spanish because they had to know how to explain the dishes and the menu to Spanish customers.

The choice of recipes to be served at The Happy Buddha was also the couple's decision. Both were clear that in the Spain of the seventies they could not serve typical dishes of Chinese food and therefore versioned those recipes in the Spanish style (rice three delights, rice with chicken, spring rolls only with Spanish products etc.)

He has returned more Chinese than ever

More than four decades later, in 2017 El Buda Feliz 1974 (current name of the premises) was renovated from top to bottom to break with its image of the inauguration in the 70s. An absolutely radical transformation that begins in the scenery with purely Chinese decorative elements and continues on the menu with an authentic Chinese food in street food version. The interior design is the work of the Lávela studio, responsible for its paradisiacal setting à la Shangri-La, full of plants, exotic prints, very warm lighting and a lot of glamor on its two floors.

The Happy Buddha 1974: He's back. More Chinese than ever

It has taken more than 40 years for the residents of Tudescos Street (where El Buda Feliz is located), between the well-known Plaza de la Luna and Gran Vía, to confirm that neither the three delights rice, nor the spring rolls that were served in the mythical Happy Buddha are basic dishes of traditional Chinese cuisine. And it has been precisely thanks to its reopening.

What was the first Chinese restaurant in Madrid, faces since 2017 a new stage converted into El Buda Feliz 1974, in homage to the year of its foundation.

Let your palate be surprised

The exquisite recipes served at The Happy Buddha are the work of Yong Ping Zhang (Julio), the chef of the Chinese fusion restaurants Soy Kitchen and Lamian. But its style should not be confused with that of the Happy Buddha 1974, much less sophisticated but not of lesser quality. The whole menu is inspired by Chinese street food, but revised by Julio: from the chicken picantón (Chuang yi kong su ji), one of the warm starters, to yam with prawns, oyster sauce and Sichuan pepper, already positioned among the new hits of the menu.

Sichuan Revolutionary Picanton Chicken from The Happy Buddha 1974

To confirm what we all knew: that the popular Chinese food that we have been made to swallow since teenagers has almost nothing to do with true Chinese cuisine, from Buscatea we advise you to go to the Happy Buddha and let yourself be carried away by the palate.

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