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Good Fortune, Wheaton - Cantonese with Dim Sum Lunch on University Blvd. and Viers Mill Rd. - Closed


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I am a big fan of Sunday brunch.

There is nothing quite like the feeling on the morning after the night before. You wake up late. Every cell in your body feels swollen to three times its original size after last night's excesses. Surely is not natural for the sun to be so bright so early in the morning, you think, channeling Bridget Jones.

You drag yourself out of bed, pull on jeans and a skanky top and grope your way through the streets to the nearest brunch joint with eyes half shut. (For those of you who live in West End "“ you don't know me.) Finally, after what seems like an endless wait, the first ice cold glass of mimosa lands on your table. You take a big gulp of cold acidic liquid, and as it drips down your esophagus, you feel life is slowly returning to your body as the cells shrink to what I sincerely hope was their original size. Life suddenly feels more tolerable.

All the above notwithstanding, every now and then I turn against this tried, true and loved experience and seek other ways to return to life on Sunday mornings. Latin dim sum at Café Atlantico fits the bill, but I've done it and done it and done it. Last Sunday, it was time to do an actual dim sum.

Tom says, and I concur, that dim sum options in Chinatown DC suck arse. Dingy dining rooms "“ what few are open on Sundays - cunningly keep the light out, and just as well, since their roast pork buns taste like they have been fashioned out of dirty toilet tissues. Anything more adventurous then General Tsao's chicken seems beyond this land of Let's Please the Masses â„¢.

So, time to haul bottom to Wheaton to what Tom sez is a real deal.

As any good fortune worth its salt, Good Fortune needs you to travel far, far away from Dupont. For former Terps, please don't do what this one did and take University Blvd. East. You'll waste half an hour. Go west.

Good Fortune is low on design and good on food. We were too late to see the carts darting around, which may have been the reason for ordering way too much food. This is what has been had:

- beef innards
- steam roast pork buns
- shrimp toast
- shrimp cakes
- pork and chive dumplings
- shark fin dumplings
- shrimp paste balls
- sticky rice (Lotus something or the other) with Chinese sausage and chicken
- spare ribs with black bean salt
- duck feet stuffed with shrimp
- sesame paste balls for dessert.

If you drive and like good food, and I am as DC-chauvinist piggish as they come, there is really no reason not to come here. Shrimp toast is delicious, if dripping with oil. Anything made into dumplings is a winner "“ my pork and chive version was bursting with flavor and light. The shark fins one tasted very intense, and really, is there any reason not to? Shrimp balls actually taste of shrimp. Roast pork buns are generous pockets of porky goodness nestled inside airy dough balls. Nibbling on duck feet brings you back to life as you really do need to pay attention not to swallow tiny bones "“ the stuffing is a generous dollop of shrimp meat secured around the feet with what appears to be skin (of ducks, one sincerely hopes).

Don't do what I did and smear hot sauce on everything in sight as it packs quite a kick. Luckily, sesame balls provide a much-needed sweet tooth respite from that folly as its sticky, gooey, caramel-like goodness coats your mouth.

As I said, it was way too much food. The total for two with multiple ice teas (no refills) was $42, which included dinner that night.

And I got my bonus: a fortune cookie in form of personalized advice from the kindly old Chinese waiter.

As I was signing the check, he patted my deltoids and said:

"You have good body! But you eat too much! When you old, you fat!"

Really, what do you say to that?

"It's okay, I only have six months left?"

(Have other snappy comebacks? PM me.)

On the other hand, mmmm, that can be an interesting game on par with naughty schoolgirl and strict principal. "Come here, Miss Pritchard. Close the door. You've been eating too much. Let me show you exactly where your girth is now exceeding school regulation"¦" But I digress.

Washington is a wonderful place to be and I would hate to be any place else. But for better or worse, there are better and more authentic ethnic finds outside the Beltway. And even the most ardent devotees of Washington should occasionally let their love of good adventurous food triumph over their repulsion toward all things suburban. This one does and loves it.

Edited by DonRocks
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Today was the first outing of the MontCoDimSum group.

Location: Good Fortune, 2646 University Blvd West, Wheaton MD

Attendees: Perri (that's me), Elizabeth (porcupine), DanielK and his perky young lass, and Dean & Kay. Hope you're feeling better, Heather!

What we ate:

  • Clams in black bean sauce
    Sui mei
    Har gow
    Fun gor
    Char sui bao
    Tripe in brown sauce
    Stuffed bean curd
    Shrimp cheong fan (rice noodle crepe)
    Sesame balls
    Turnip cake
    Taro root dumpling with shrimp and pork (wu gok?)

There was another bean curd dish early on, wasn't there?

Final cost: $12 per person including tip.

My quick take: I was satisfied but not really impressed. The clams were tasted and then abandoned (I didn't even get around to tasting them). The tripe was nicely prepared, very tender and not all all organ-y tasting. I really liked the crunchy, thin wu gok. Everything else I tried was respectable, but not outstanding or otherwise memorable. I wasn't able to sample all of the dishes, so I hope the others will chime in.

I noticed that quite a few of the carts didn't stop off at our table. We were never offered congee, for example, and if I hadn't noticed the table near us being offered tripe we never would gotten any (and we weren't shown what else was on that cart). I didn't see any vegetables go by, nor do I recall being offered vegetable dumplings. My favorite dim sum goody is spareribs in black bean sauce, and that too was missing in action. It's possible that we were there too late for some items (we sat down at about 1:15 and left a little over an hour later), although the restaurant was still moderately busy.

I'm the closest thing to an Asian we have in this group (I'm half Japanese), and no dim sum cart lady has ever walked by me without stopping. This time I sat on the inside. Was this a factor? I should stay away from the aisle seats at the other restaurants to get a fair comparison... although this may mean missing out on New Fortune's duck feet. And that would be a shame!

We would benefit from a larger group at the next outing - hint, hint! If a camera-shy misanthrope like me had a good time (and I did), the rest of you will too...

Next outing is October 9 at Hollywood East On The Boulevard in Wheaton. It's across the street from Good Fortune. FYI: Parking in Wheaton can be a challenge, and the little public lot next to GF is small and almost always full. There's a public lot at Grandview and Ennalls, sort of behind GF, that has plenty of room. (parking is free on Sundays) Remember, it's Hollywood East at 2621 University Blvd, NOT the original Hollywood East on Price Avenue.

Edited by perrik
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I thought that Good Fortune has basically thrown in th towel... they are going down hill since the opening of Hollywood East on the Blvd. The palce was dirty and bedraggled. Iwas sitting on the edge of a tbale with about 2 or 3 inches of missing laminate and exposed particle board. The fried items were rather good from the point of view of lack of oil and crispness, but the over all effect was a big "big deal... its food". THe only thing I really loved was a shrimp and taro fritter that really made me take notice. THe other stuff ranged from OK to good. Kay and I have crossed it off our list for repeat visits. Too bad.

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THe only thing I really loved was a shrimp and taro fritter that really made me take notice.

That was the wu gok, or at least what I think is called wu gok. Anyway, that was pretty good. The taro dumplings I've tried elsewhere have been larger and puffier, and just too taro-oriented (translation: gobs of deep-fried starch). GF's version was crunchy goodness. It reminded me a bit of Japanese tonkatsu.

Odd that there was no tablecloth. I didn't notice whether other tables were covered, but you know, I think they were...

Glad to know I wasn't the only one who was underwhelmed. But I thought that's just because Chinese food isn't my favorite. I was hoping for a culinary revelation; most of the food we tried was rather bland.

Just wait until the Joe's Noodle House gathering. "Bland" will not be an option!

Edited by perrik
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I thought that Good Fortune has basically thrown in th towel... they are going down hill since the opening of Hollywood East on the Blvd.  The palce was dirty and bedraggled.  Iwas sitting on the edge of a tbale with about 2 or 3 inches of missing laminate and exposed particle board.  The fried items were rather good from the point of view of lack of oil and crispness, but the over all effect was a big "big deal... its food".  THe only thing I really loved was a shrimp and taro fritter that really made me take notice.  THe other stuff ranged from OK to good.  Kay and I have crossed it off our list for repeat visits.  Too bad.

I mostly agree. Steamed dishes were all ok, but nothing to take note of. The fried dishes were noticeably better.

It wasn't a question of time or location in the restaurant. Everything was clearly freshly prepared, and hot (if supposed to be hot.) Selection was somewhat limited - I saw no pan-fried items, no BBQ, no chicken or duck feet, etc.

I took a couple of pictures, one of the table and one of the group, that didn't come out so well. I'll try again in two weeks, and we'll get some pictures into the thread.

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I However, if in Wheaton, you'd be better off two blocks west at Hollywood East or Good Fortune.

HEOTB definitely, but I'd rather go to the Chnese All you can eat beffet than eat at Good Fortune. From th filthiness of the place to the tiredness of the food, I'll not be back. They seem to be mailing it in these days. Too bad as at its best it was quite good!

Full Key had great soups and Congee but not much else. Paul Key is pretty good as well with better meats, maybe not quite as good soup.

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HEOTB definitely, but I'd rather go to the Chnese All you can eat beffet than eat at Good Fortune. From th filthiness of the place to the tiredness of the food, I'll not be back. They seem to be mailing it in these days. Too bad as at its best it was quite good!

Dean, Thanks for the update. I haven't been to Good Fortune in quite a while (why go with HEOTB across the street), and was sort of wondering what was going on there. I had heard their business was off, but didn't know if that was just due to competition.

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We had been going to Good Fortune on and off for about 15 years. When my son Jake was five (he is now in college) we walked in and the waiter patted him on the head and asked "Little boy, you like dim sum? What is your favorite?" You should have seen the look on his face when Jake replied, "DUCK FEET!!" About 10 minutes after we sat down, the waiter came to our table with a small steamer full of duck feet for Jake and watched with a smile as he scarfed them down. Thereafter, whenever we went there, someone would smile at him and say, "Table for three, Duck feet."

However, for the last couple of years we have gone to New Fortune in Gaithersburg or HEOTB whenever we wanted a dim sum fix. I can't say it is any better than Good Fortune was, but there were more choices. However, whether it be Good Fortune, New Fortune, HEOTB, or any of the other places in Wheaton, they are all head and shoulders above what you can get in DC.

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Dean, Thanks for the update. I haven't been to Good Fortune in quite a while (why go with HEOTB across the street), and was sort of wondering what was going on there. I had heard their business was off, but didn't know if that was just due to competition.

I'm with dinwiddie and Dean on this one. Our "Dim Sundays" team hit Good Fortune some months back, and it was completely awful. Besides just the competition, this wasn't even better than what you can get in DC Chinatown.

I also fondly remember meals at GF in years past. I can't say whether the current New Fortune and HEOTB are better than GF was in it's heyday (I believe this to be true, but no way to say), but it's not worth going to now.

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Good Fortune serves mid-day dim sum seven days a week, M-F from 11:30-3, and weekends and holidays from 11-3.

I stopped in for a dim sum lunch yesterday, and had a perfectly good meal for $9.25 before tax and tip (3 items, plus a pot of tea for 50 cents). All dim sum on this Monday was made to order in the kitchen (which is an absolute necessity since at 1 PM, there were only two other diners in the restaurant the whole time I was there).

Har Gow ($2.75 for 4) were the weak link, and about as basic as this simple dish can be: frozen (but deveined) shrimp, wrapped in a translucent, bag-shaped, rice-paper wrapper, and steamed. My dishes were served with a little bowl of chili oil (with dried seeds and flakes) that I used side-by-side with a few drops of soy sauce, and these needed a little dunk to wake them up. If you don't know what these dim sum items are, you should Google them - presentations are often similar, and pictures describe them well.

Fried Fun Gor ($3.50 for 3) was, I think, slightly different than most presentations. Crescent-shaped and deep fried, the yeasty, almost donut-smelling, batter was lined on the inside with a sweet, pale orange paste, perhaps some type of bean or taro. The center portion of the crescent contained a small ball of ground pork and what seemed to be spring onion. They were very flavorful and well-fried.

Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($2.50 for 3) is my traditional weakness at dim sum restaurants, and it's almost obligatory for me. I developed a taste for them early on, and don't think I've ever had one I don't like. Rectangular, pan-fried, and custardy, with tiny bits of pork and strands of turnip, I've never been quite sure what the base for these gelatinous blocks are, and perhaps it's best that I don't know.

While the Har Gow was a bit bland (which it often is), I really don't see how Good Fortune could have delivered a better version of what I ordered. My server was just the right combination of friendly and abrupt. I only wanted to finish half the meal, and enjoyed the rest later at home (even the Fried Fun Gor microwaved decently).

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Pan Fried Turnip Cake ($2.50 for 3) is my traditional weakness at dim sum restaurants, and it's almost obligatory for me. I developed a taste for them early on, and don't think I've ever had one I don't like. Rectangular, pan-fried, and custardy, with tiny bits of pork and strands of turnip, I've never been quite sure what the base for these gelatinous blocks are, and perhaps it's best that I don't know.

Apparently, from this recipe, there's nothing to worry about http://appetiteforch...ke-law-bok-gow/

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In April, Robert Dyer wrote this:

"Good Fortune To Close For Three Months In Wheaton"

Sign on their door says Closed for Remodeling. I just saw the sign while driving south on University Blvd so I didn't see a date for reopening.

It's not remodeling; it's just plain old closed, and the building is for sale.

Could someone tell me why restaurants lie about this? What purpose does it serve?

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