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New Fortune, Gaithersburg - Cantonese Dim Sum and Late Night Dining on Frederick Road

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The MontCoDimSum Comparo visited New Fortune today for dim sum. I neglected to write down what we sampled, so this is not an exhaustive list:sui mei
har gow
shrimp cheong fan
sweet rice with... um, I can't remember what was in it. Chinese sausage?
salt & pepper head-on shrimp
steamed BBQ pork buns
mushrooms in some rich shoyu-based sauce I couldn't identify
braised baby bok choy
slices of char sui (roast pork)
chicken feet
turnip cake
steamed beef balls
fun gor
turnip cake
sesame balls
I'm blanking on the rest right now. What was that dish with the dried shrimp in rice noodle? I also remember an early dish, a flaky turnover with a sweet pork filling.

New Fortune has been my dim sum place for several years, but I've never been able to sample so many different dishes before! One of the beauties of New Fortune is the griddle cart. At other dim sum emporiums, the turnip cakes and chive dumplings are fried and plated in the kitchen. At New Fortune, they give those items a final frying on the cart and dish them up fresh and crispy-edged. This really makes a difference.

Another advantage of New Fortune is the vegetable selection. As much as I enjoyed Hollywood East overall, the lack of green vegetable offerings was noticeable and unwelcome. The very first thing on our table at New Fortune (before, say, plates and chopsticks) was the dish of (very addictive) bok choy. Also circulating through the dining room was a cart laden with green beans, asparagus, and Chinese broccoli.

New Fortune sells BBQ meats for carryout, and of course they offer those goodies during dim sum. We had intended to get roast pig and roast duck, but wound up with a plate of char sui instead. This was hardly a sacrifice - it was perfectly moist, with a good balance of fatty meat and slightly sweet edges.

The salt & pepper shrimp is usually one of my favorites, but the shrimp was somewhat mushy in texture today. Come to think of it, I was less impressed than usual with the shrimp cheong fan and the har gow, which are usually quite good at NF.

Service was, well... it's dim sum. When we sat down, there were no plates, teacups, or utensils. It took a few minutes before we were set up properly. Daniel had also requested a dish of pickled vegetables, which never arrived. Otherwise, service was really quite good and efficient, and we were offered some special items that had just come from the kitchen (okay, next time we get the salt & pepper squid!). There was certainly no issue with the cart ladies not offering us everything available, unlike at Good Fortune.

The tab came to $16 per person including tip.

There was some talk about doing a New Fortune dinner - their regular menu is extensive and warrants group exploration.

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I also remember a shrimp and banana offering in a flaky rice paper wrapper with black and white sesame seeds, crispy taro and shrimp cakes, teriyaki chicken sticks (though I think my son ate the whole plate of those) and pineapple buns.

I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite between Hollywood East and New Fortune. As Perri mentioned, a couple of the shrimp dishes at New Fortune weren't at their best today, though they have been good in the past. Sui mei at Hollywood East were astounding; at New Fortune, they were just good.

But the variety at New Fortune is just so much stronger. More items on the steam table. Four or five different vegetable selections. BBQ. Jellyfish and head-on shrimp, which we didn't even see at Hollywood East. And, though the one deep-fried dumpling we had at New Fortune was a touch on the greasy side, there were probably a dozen different deep fried offerings that we didn't get today. Nearly every time I go there, there's at least one thing on the carts I hadn't seen before.

New Fortune is closer to me, and the parking is easier, so I'd probably pick it 4 times out of 5. But it's one of those choices were if you lived substantially closer to one than the other, it makes the decision easier.

When I'm doing non-dim sum dining, I also frequently find myself at New Fortune. Very large menu, and hard to go wrong. Soups and hot pots are particularly strong, as are fresh fish dishes, and of course the BBQ is available whenever they are open (the roast pig is transcendent). Which, if you're in the need for late nite dining, is after midnight during the week, and WELL past midnight on the weekend.

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We went on Saturday morning. Place was nearly packed at 11:15. Overall experience was mixed.

The good:

Chicken feet - Lots of gelatinous goodness

Taro dumplings - Perfectly fried, filling had great texture and a generous amount of shrimp/pork

The okay:

Steamed ribs in black bean sauce - Decent taste but not enough meat and too much fat

Rice noodle roll - both the shrimp and beef versions were on the bland side

The bad:

Shumai - Possibly the worst I've ever had, everything was dry and bland from the skin to the meatball

Turnip cake - Usually my favorite dish, this was borderline cold and had the texture of a brick

I'm inclined to drive the extra 10 minutes to Wheaton next time.

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One of the advantages of New Fortune is that it's open until midnight on weekdays, 1AM on Fridays and Saturdays.

You have to try the Pork Chop with Salt and Pepper ($10.95). Two hacked-up pork chops, battered, and fried with salt and pepper, then served dry with just a few little peppers. This is finger-food at it's tastiest, and an important textural contrast to the many of the dishes here, which are soupy and saucy.

Five-Spice Beef Tripe Hot Pot ($11.50) is another dish worth ordering - meaty strands of tripe and slices of turnip-tasting chayote, cooked into a mild dark-brown broth hauntingly fragrant from the five-spice. Pour it over rice and you'll be a happy camper.

Which brings us to the Sea Cucumber. Normally an expensive ingredient, this seemed reasonable at under $20 until I actually saw it: A few meager slivers of sea cucumber, drowning in a boatload of brown gravy, and infuriatingly mixed together with look-alike dried shiitake mushrooms. I don't mind Hamburger Helper, but the ratio here was vastly tilted toward the mushrooms, and the sea cucumber was mush as opposed to gelatinous. Even at half the price, I'd think twice before ordering this again.

And let me challenge the notion of "needing something green" to break up a Chinese meal. Sauteed Chinese Greens ($7.95) were cut into large pieces, sauteed with a little ginger and garlic, and completely devoid of any flavor - just like they always are. The next time I get Chinese Broccoli, or Mustard Greens, or Watercress, I'm going to remind myself that I do this all the time, and I never particularly like it.

"But it's healthy, Don!"

Gimme pork.

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[Deleted: list of invectives towards New Fortune that included each of George Carlin's 7 Dirty words. Typing it first helped me calm down]

My wife had always meant to take me to New Fortune for dim sum but she thought we had to wait for the weekend. I was in the area today for lunch and thought I'd give the regular menu a try. I was surprised to see the carts making the circuit as I entered the dining room. I wish the dim sum was the surprise I could focus on.

The hostess running me to my table and promptly running away was possibly the best portion of the service I experienced here. Of the five different service people that I interacted with on the floor, only one was not inexplicably rude to me in some way. The least offensive was the cart server who only begrudgingly named 2 of the more than 10 fried items on her cart. The worst was the waitress of whom I was told by a cart server to ask for my check: In mid-request she marched past me barking "OK! OK!" as if she were a 16-year-old who had been told to clean up her room for the third time. All of this went far beyond a simple language-barrier explanation. More than once I was grunted at. Yes, literally grunted at. I never saw a single employee smile. When I wondered if I was committing some sort of cultural faux pas, I noticed that everyone else of all ethnicities was receiving service lacking any graciousness, interest, or earnestness. But for me, it got worse after I left the dining room. Since I wasn't sure who was the manager, I calmly tried to tell two different people behind the bar how rudely I felt treated from beginning to end. TWICE the person walked away in mid-sentence. TWICE! Different people! After the second time, I wasn't calm and blurted out to the woman's back, "I'm never coming back here!" I left angry and dumbfounded. My first spiteful "never again" experience.

The food: Not good enough to mention even if I wasn't disgusted by the service.



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I too lunched at New Fortune on a whim on Thursday, mostly in the vague hope that they might let me order dim sum off the menu. (And a successful attempt to buy gas for less than $4 a gallon AND I got rid of a bag of books at Goodwill. Productive and I got lunch!!!)

I was there one-ish. Service was decent-- the person who processed my credit card and snatched the receipt out of my hand the second I was done signing it was off putting but the rest seemed willing to answer my questions.

I thought the dim sum was okay--tasted a little limp and old but infinitely better than the crummy buffet at City Lite in the Off Price Center that I tried a few weeks ago. Not sure exactly what I ate but the thing with the shredded fried taro was pretty darn tasty.

(Say hi next time!)


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Definitely report back, and good luck - GF was really near inedible the last time I was there. We have done multiple Some Dim Sundays at New Fortune!
After borrowing and reading a few times the book Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin from the library, gebaby requested to have dim sum and I happily obliged, having not gone post-inquiring about it two weekends ago. Since NF still seems to be a well-liked place, I made the trek out there by 11:10am and the place was already packed with a steady line going. I thought this was a good sign, as I haven't had a good dim sum experience in a long while.

But, I was sorely disappointed.

I ordered things from the book so that gebaby can eat items we've reviewed and become familar with: chao siu bao (steamed and bakery versions); egg tart; and turnip cake. In addition, I ordered my standard har gow and shrimp chang fun.

The chang fun, har gow and bakery version of roast pork buns were lukewarm to cold in temperature. On top of that, I had some unpeeled shells from the har gow (shrimp dumpling/mais) and the chang fun tasted slimey. The turnip cake had too much congealed flour, so it was all cakey and not enough turnip flavor. The egg tart and the steam char siu bao were the only hits of the day. Gebaby did not mind the temperature in the bakery version, but the steamed version was hot and also well-liked. He felt meh on the turnip cake, but finished a square of it.

Although there was good variety, it wasn't inspiring and the food on the cart looked very lifeless. This ranged from the steamed chicken feet, clams, abalone, and shrimp with walnuts I saw from the carts, as well as the roast pork and other roast meats.

By the time we left, the line was longer as was the wait. I hope others' experiences were better.

Happy Mother's day to all the moms*!

*(Btw, contrary to those who believe moms don't like dim sum outings on Mother's day, there awful lot of flowers/roses and moms there today.)

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I've always had decent to good dim sum outings here. Maybe I am just lucky?

Any places in the suburban MD landscape that offer up better dim sum? If so, I'd love to know about those places!

I'm with you, PB. I occasionally hit an off day, or an item or two that aren't great, but on the whole NF is pretty damned good. I think maybe Hollywood East (closing?) might be a slight bit higher on overall quality and consistency, but at half the selection (no BBQ, which is a killer in my book). Nothing else in the area comes close to these two, IMO.

P.S. Potstickers are the one item at NF that consistently suck. Wrappers are too thick and doughy. But the chive dumplings from the same cart are fab!

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@goodeats: sorry about your Mother's Day experience. I'm also on the side that usually, we leave Good Fortune pretty pleased. But you're not wrong about the temperature of the roast pork buns - usually they end up lukewarm. But we also never get there right when they open and are subsequently further from the kitchen door.

Indeed, the guotie sucketh. Unfortunately, everybody makes them doughy.

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@goodeats: sorry about your Mother's Day experience. I'm also on the side that usually, we leave Good Fortune pretty pleased.

You do mean New Fortune in Gaithersburg, not the formerly-good-but-now-amazingly-sucky Good Fortune in Wheaton, right?

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We visited New Fortune yesterday around 1:00. The place was bustling upon our arrival. Unfortunately, the bustle did not add up to warm food. Nearly every dish we got was stone cold, including the turnip cakes and pot stickers we ordered from the griddle cart. Our reaction to these dishes was uniformly that they would have been much better hot. Dishes from the steam cart were warm, and if we go again, we may just stick to the steam cart offerings. The high point of our meal was the banana and shrimp rolls, which were full of crispy bits of water chestnut to offset the gooey banana.

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Lots of variety (granted many were not typical dim sum dishes - instead they're just normal dishes in small portions) and generally better than Mark's Duck House and Sampan, and cheaper at $2.75 per small order. There was a cart with 4 stir-fried veggies (although I did not inspect it - looks like there were bok choy and Chinese broccoli). The place is so big there was no line at noon today. The savory dishes today were also generally better than Hollywood East prior to its move (in my opinion). There's not as much variety when it comes to the sweet dishes compared to the pre-move HE. Saw sautéed snails, sautéed clams, shrimp with mayo sauce...loads of stuff :lol:

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Two of us went for dim sum yesterday and had a good experience. We stuck to our usuals of stuffed eggplant, deep fried taro, shu mai, pastry filled with barbequed pork, and a couple of other dishes that I know by sight but not by name. Nothing disappointed. We don't order any of the sweets so I can't comment on those.

Our trick is to get there early (about 11:15am) and ask for a table near the kitchen. That usually ensures that you won't miss a dish that might otherwise have run out after getting halfway across the room. The dishes are also hotter as you can see which ones have just left the kitchen. The other thing to know is that when the servers reload their carts they take whatever is left on the top shelf and move it to the bottom shelf. So it often occurs that anything selected from the lower shelf won't be as warm as it should. I've had dim sum here on weekdays a few times and find that it is never as good. The selection is less and the turnover of items is much slower so you run the risk of selecting something that has been carted around for a half hour.

They have increased their prices since we were last there (maybe a few months ago). The least expensive item is now $2.95 (up from $2.75) and nearly all of the price categories increase. With tea for two and no "premium" items (but plenty of leftovers) the bill (before tip) was $30 where the same meal in the past was always in the low 20s. This will not prevent me from returning however.

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Went for dim sum this Sunday. Frankly, I don't at all see the attraction that many seem to have for Oriental East.

I still vote for New Fortune as having the best dim sum in the area.

In fact, I was there yesterday, and even during the crush of Father's Day lunch, waited only 5 minutes, got stuffed in the corner far from the kitchen, and still had a very good meal.

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I still vote for New Fortune as having the best dim sum in the area.

In fact, I was there yesterday, and even during the crush of Father's Day lunch, waited only 5 minutes, got stuffed in the corner far from the kitchen, and still had a very good meal.

Thanks. Will consider this for the top of the list for our next dim sum outing.

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Did I just pick bad timing or has NF lost a step?

Yesterday afternoon was running some errands right up in there areas. It was about 1:30 so lunch rush was over but they still bring out carts until 3pm so I was thinking great - let's have some chinese carts for lunch...

When we walked in it was not crowded at all maybe ten or so tables being used, I was not concerned as it was the back end of the service and they were probably busy earlier and everything would still be fresh.

The Shui Mai was excellent and up to their normal high standards. Unfortunately, everything else went downhill after that...

Chinese Pork with vegetables was so overcooked and dry no one would touch it - they wouldn't just take it off but insisted on bringing something else out. The replacement was a shrimp dish that was sweet - like a dessert? The shrimps were very overcooked and the sweet was sicky sweet, it was almost like it was shrimp and broccoli in a sweet custard sauce (no idea what it really was).

We also had the crispy pig off the main menu - It was okay but felt like it was missing something, I think the crispiness has been much better in the past with the fat melting in my mouth - this wasn't happening today.

The duck had a very oversalted hand and needed something to bring it back.

Can anyone tell me that this was a one time bad day for them (chef sick, on vacation etc) vs a top restaurant moving down to the once was catagory?

I don't want to beat up a restaurant for a one time true issue, and tried to find out but with the language barriers here that wasn't going to work.

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Was here this past weekend. Tried a roasted pork dish that I had not seen before that was pretty good. Again, this place will not blow your mind in über-dimsum, but it can satisfy the craving. It'd be great if they did more things like this roast pork.

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So I went here today for their Chinese New Year celebration, complete with dragon dancers, drums, and fire crackers.  They gave all of the children lucky money which my daughter fed to the dragon.  We arrived early (10:30) and had no trouble getting a table, although the place definitely filled up.  I had so much food I can't even remember.  Highlights were the black bean bun, shrimp balls, salt and pepper shrimp, and turnip pancake.  I thought they were really on their game.  Everyone was nice, the service was good and it was a really enjoyable lunch.

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