Like a number of other West Bank restaurants, the Three Happiness serves a both Chinese and Vietnamese food. The family that operates the place is Vietnamese, however, and although they cook decent Chinese dishes, it's clear that their hearts are in Vietnam. However, a few years ago they broke away from the many other Vietnamese places on the West Bank by serving dim sum--the little Chinese dumplings and appetizers--on Saturday and Sunday mornings, from 9 a.m. through lunch. Unfortunately, these are offered not from rolling carts like in San Francisco, but by a sushi-bar-style checklist, the names on which are puzzling. Nevertheless, it's an interesting adventure.
Phu and Nancy Tran opened the Three Happiness in 1993, at a time when Vietnamese food was just beginning to make inroads among mainstream New Orleans diners. Nevertheless, it was the habit among Vietnamese restaurants at the time to also include a full selection of Chinese dishes, for customers not willing to try entirely new things. A scattering of Japanese items provided the third happiness of the name.
The restaurant is in a former retail store in a well-worn strip mall with an improbably enormous parking lot. The interior is rather stark. The booth-style seating is less comfortable than the standard tables. The staff seems to be entirely family, and the customers are largely regulars.
Ask as many questions as the server will allow, knowing that he or she will steer you away from dishes you'd have to grow up in Vietnam to appreciate fully. (If it's really intriguing, insist on ordering it anyway.)