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House of Fortune, Lowell Avenue in McLean - Open For 25 Years, But Under New Management and Chef - Closed Dec 21, 2019


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Following a tip on CH, I dragged a friend to House of Fortune for lunch today. According to the menu, the former award winning chef from Mr. K is now the chef here. The English menu has some authentic dishes listed as Chef's Specials but there is a separate Chinese menu with no English translation. We ordered a spicy beef noodle soup and spicy fish filet (cooked with sprouts and celery). To me this is the only edible Chinese joint in McLean and a welcome addition but it wasn't great by any stretch of imagination. I will continue to sample their wares but as it stands, it's not a place I would invite Chinese folks from out of town.

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Following a tip on CH, I dragged a friend to House of Fortune for lunch today. According to the menu, the former award winning chef from Mr. K is now the chef here. The English menu has some authentic dishes listed as Chef's Specials but there is a separate Chinese menu with no English translation. We ordered a spicy beef noodle soup and spicy fish filet (cooked with sprouts and celery). To me this is the only edible Chinese joint in McLean and a welcome addition but it wasn't great by any stretch of imagination. I will continue to sample their wares but as it stands, it's not a place I would invite Chinese folks from out of town.

Believe it or not, House of Fortune has been open for over 25 years. Any idea when the new chef arrived? The menu I have has a separate section of dishes from Shantong province.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Believe it or not, House of Fortune has been open for over 25 years. Any idea when the new chef arrived?

I read there is a change of ownership as well - I didn't see the short man who use to run the restaurant so that's probably true. I think it happened late last year or early this year. Shangtong is the old menu.

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We used to eat at House of Fortune when I was a kid (which was about 25 years ago!) and it was our go-to family Chinese restaurant. This was back when they still served Pu Pu platters. Maybe they still do, but it has been a long time.

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Claudia and I had dinner here last night. The restaurant is below Tachibana in the same building. They also do take out, and yes the chef was with Mr. K's downtown for 25 years (and is now part owner according to the staff). After we were seated, we asked the waitress to translate the Chinese menu for us. She was very nice and very proud that we wanted the Chinese dishes. In fact the entire staff was amazed that we ordered off the Chinese menu and really proud to serve the dishes with comments like "this is great" and "this is my favorite". We started off with Spicy Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup (10.95). The noodles are homemade (thin) and the broth was fantastic with large chucks of beef, some greens and onions. I could have used a bit more spice, but really enjoyed this dish and we both thought it was as good as A&J or Joes. Next we tried a Ma la tofu that was also really good, but I would have liked to have a little more heat. It has been my experience that you need to work with a restaurant before they serve the really hot stuff. Basil chicken was also spot on and a really good rendition with basil, ginger and a light sauce, finally we had some sautéed Boc Choy with garlic, nicely prepared with a little crispness and not a lot of salt (which is how we like it). Total bill was under 50 bucks and we took home enough food for another meal. Frankly this is the best Chinese in the McLean, Tyson's, Falls Church or Vienna area. I encourage others to give the Chinese menu a try as well as the regular dishes as well. My experience has been when the Chinese dishes are prepared well, the American Chinese dishes are as good as they get. I also saw a crispy duck being served to an adjacent table that also needs to be ordered next time we are here.

Scott

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This past weekend I ordered (i) H18 Szechuan Fish Filet $17, (ii) sauteed bok choy $10 (ask for fresh veggies and they'll tell you what they have), (iii) H10 Orange Beef $16, (iv) Scallion Braised Beef Tendon $16 (not an option on the English menu but the tendon is available on the Chinese menu), and (v) chicken fried rice $10. My mother in law was in town (she's not Chinese) so I had to cater to her a bit. The flavors trend towards the authentic but there are signs of Americanization - soupy dishes with too much sauce, too much sweetness in the fish, the absence of heat where there is supposed to be. It's the best Chinese in McLean but that's not saying much, and the prices are on the high side. Given its close proximity and our lifestyle changes (to more take-out), I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunity to explore the menu.

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After almost a week in VA Beach eating mostly seafood, I was looking forward to some comfort food so we popped in on a Friday night. The lot was full but not the restaurant - as most of the people were upstairs at Tachibana. We ordered based on recommendations of our waiter. He said the scallion pancakes (didn't see it on the menu) were good and they were indeed - slightly chewy with pungent scallion flavor. The waiter also recommended H17 Chopped Fried Beans Fish Fillet - nicely steamed fish but definitely not spicy. I don't know what kind of dried beans they used but it was mild and even my wife enjoyed this dish. Then we had E10 Sautéed Scallions Beef - simple but tasty dish, especially for those who don't like to eat veggies. Lastly we had some stir-fried Chinese broccoli - fresh and crunchy - just like mama's.

I recently thought I found a contender for the best Chinese in Tysons/McLean/Vienna at China Wok. The former House of Hunan chef apparently went over there but after trying them out, I find House of Fortune much better.

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Random bitching - twice we ordered scallion pancakes (I ordered in Mandarin) and twice the waiter said to my wife- "Chinese pizza, very good." WTF?! The scallion pancakes are good but we know exactly what they are. It's not like I hide my wife under a rock so she doesn't know what a scallion pancake is.

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Random bitching - twice we ordered scallion pancakes (I ordered in Mandarin) and twice the waiter said to my wife- "Chinese pizza, very good." WTF?! The scallion pancakes are good but we know exactly what they are. It's not like I hide my wife under a rock so she doesn't know what a scallion pancake is.

Went there for dinner last Friday. I told my wife if the guy says "chinese pizza" again, I'd never go back. Fortunately for the House of Fortune, the waiter didn't make any comments on our scallion pancake. All I wanted was some noodle soup for my sore throat so I ordered a pickled cabbage with shredded pork noodle soup and my wife had chicken with black bean sauce and beef and broccoli. The latter two dishes were really good as far as American Chinese food goes, the quality of the ingredients and the saucing were both much better than the other Chinese joints in McLean/Vienna. Wish they deliver.

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My wife and kid went to Pittsburgh on Friday to help her cousin who just bought a new house. On Saturday, as I was golfing with my brother, I got an e-mail from my wife saying "cancel the strippers, we're coming home." Her cousin's facebook page said "what a terrible weekend, that's the last time I ask for help." After a 4 hr. car ride, my wife refused to strap the kid down for a long drive for dinner so we went to the House of Fortune. Again, the scallion pancakes were good, but I don't think it's on their menu. Baby bok choy was available and tasty. The waiter recommended salt and pepper 3 treasures (not sure what the English name is, I translated the Chinese name), which turned out to be a crispy fried plate of shrimp, scallop, and squid - I've had better seasoned fried seafood but this was pretty decent. The water boiled/cooked beef (a little tough, not spicy enough) and chicken lo mein weren't particularly good.

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Being inherently lazy and living in Mclean, House of Fortune has begun to replace some of my runs to Hong Kong Palace, Mark's Duck House and XO taste. This is an unusual Mclean restaurant, half the house are typical Mclean alter cockers eating chicken chow mein and half the house are Chinese who are eating off the very good Chinese Menu. As noted elsewhere in this thread, the Chinese menu does not have a printed translation, so one needs to win the 'trust' of the waitstaff for them to tell you about the more adventurous treats on the Chinese menu. After eating there or getting takeout perhaps a dozen times since I read this thread in July, I think I must have passed their Gweilo test last week because when I asked if they had any tripe, they said no, but perhaps I would like some - she points to her stomach?. Hmm, generally liking offal, but not being able to quite discern which nasty bit she was referring to, I decided to take a leap of faith and was awarded with chitlins stir fried with peppers.

This should give the idea that they really do have some interesting things on their menu. As in many Chinese restaurants, I find that being able to at least say hello and thank you in Mandarin helps to open the door to the real Chinese food on the menu and asking for Sichuan dishes prepared Ma la had them doing a double take but resulted in one of the best Ma Po Dofu's I've had in NOVA.

So, here are some of the dishes we've had and liked:

  • Spicy Beef and Noodle Soup

  • Scallion pancakes
  • Dried bean curd and pork
  • Bok Choy (or brocolli) with garlic
  • Xio long bao
  • Ma Po Dofu (at request they will substitute pork for beef in the sauce)

  • Red snapper Sichuan style

Not so good were veggies and tofu (all baby corn and western broccoli)

Basil squid (too sweet)

They also do pretty good Wonton and egg drop soup as well as egg rolls

I don't think this is destination Chinese like Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville - to which I would crawl to if I had to - but if you are in the Mclean/Tysons area, there is no Chinese place as good short of driving to Falls Church. Finally, I found that the food was better at lunch than dinner (perhaps the owner does not cook lunch)

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When stopping into Tachibana, i was intrigued by the number of people, mostly Asians, making their way into this place, so we decided to give their takeout a try. Unfortunately, we were left rather unimpressed. Two intriguing chef specials popped out to us, the Willow Shrimp and Crispy Spicy Chicken. Admittedly both are breaded, Americanized choices, but even so, they simply weren't that good. While the shrimp were large and lightly breaded, the sauce was overly sweet (something I rarely mind) and needed to be tempered with a mouth full of rice. The chicken wasn't crunchy, and after several bites, I still couldn't tell whether I liked the sauce or not. My first reaction was that it was "musty", which probably isn't a good sign. The apps (hot/sour soup, dumplings, shrimp shumai) were decent, but can be found better elsewhere (imho). Oh well...

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I think I've found my new go to place for Chinese. We ordered the following:

Fried dumplings: huge dumplings, stuffed with pork, and actually showing signs of being recently fried.
Hot and spicy shrimp wanton: we assumed these were fried, but they weren't, and that was a blessing in disguise. Tasty soy-based sauce with sliced scallion, thin and not gloopy. 
Spring rolls: I scarfed this thing down immediately. I think it tasted good
Hot and sour soup: excellent crunchy noodles. Didn't taste the soup.
Crispy Spicy chicken: shredded chicken breaded and fried in a sweet and spicy sauce. 
Orange beef in a spicy sweet brown sauce: large pieces of medium-rare cooked beef, also lightly breaded in a sweet sauce. This was awesome
Gold Sands shrimp: large shrimp, lightly breads, yet strangely presented without sauce. It was dry and needed it tho. The only thing I wouldn't get again
Combination lo mien: I liked it but no one else did. They didn't like the noodles. I'm easy, tho.

A really excellent meal. The sauces were the standout, even those that were meant to be thick, never passed into gloopy territory.

ETA: So, I couldn't even find this thread, and totally forgot that I ever even ate here a few years ago and didn't care for it, given my review above. New chef, indeed!

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