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Fortune, in Seven Corners Center near Home Depot - Cantonese and Dim Sum with New Ownership - Closed


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In a fit of hubris... I left the map at home figuring that I knew exactly where Fortune was and, having read the map quickly, could get us there. At the risk of alienating all northern Virginian's, we were stuck in Dante's 8th level of hell (reserved for those stupid enough to drive in Virginia on a Sunday, or during rush hour, or during not rush hour, or, say, any time except 3:25am and 3:27am on certain Tuesdays when there is actually only a small traffic jam at every light) we spent an hour getting from 495 to Bailey's crossroads. Wound up at Peking Gourmet, which isn't. Maybe tonight is a two negroni night as well. Ah well...

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Fortune is a very different restaurant than it was just a year-and-a-half ago, which is when the previous owner officially "retired," and the business was transferred to new management. The large-sized menu presented in plastic and cardboard was nowhere to be seen, the diners handed a cheap take-out menu when seated. Only two seafood tanks remain, the ones on the right side of the entrance, although I think the ones on the left have been gone for awhile now. The website listed on the menu, www.fortunebanquet.net, does not work.

The menu is different too, but still interesting. The results, however, were mixed:

BBQ Spare Ribs ($3.50) were two medium-meated ribs, marinated reddish-pink and served unadorned. Sliced Pork with Watercress Soup For Two ($6.95) was mild, generous with both the pork and watercress, and was pleasantly not thickened to death with corn starch.

Then two entrees arrived as I looked on in horror.

Avoid the Kingdom Style Pork Chops ($11.95), which is listed under the Chef's Recommendations section, and is nothing more than a bad version of Sweet-and-Sour Pork Chops, buried in a sweet, thick sauce that smelled overwhelmingly of vanillan. Now that I have this out of the way, I'd like to discuss the lobster.

Monday through Thursday nights, Fortune is selling lobsters - pulled straight out of the their squeaky clean seafood tank - for only $18.95. You can order them steamed, salt-baked, with ginger and scallions, or with XO sauce, and I thought we got XO sauce, but what arrived was a cold, glotted, gelatinous, blobby mess that threatened the sanctity of this otherwise beautifully cooked and presented lobster, which was perfectly cleaved and lovingly plated. This restaurant needs a saucier, and this lobster was good enough, and cheap enough, so that I can overlook the atrocious glop it came with and urge people to come here and order it with something thin and soy-based, or maybe just steamed with sauce on the side. $18.95 lobsters!

English was a problem with our (perfectly nice) server, who may have misheard me when I ordered XO sauce for the lobster: When I ordered the Goat Casserole ($15.95), she repeatedly kept saying it was a lamb casserole - I thought the menu might have been translated improperly, but sure enough, when it arrived, it was made with goat. And a fine casserole it was, too, with plenty of goat meat, cabbage, mushrooms, wrappy tofu, all sitting in a milky, gravy-ish broth that wasn't compelling enough to spoon, but surely worked well with the items in the oven-hot serving vessel. I recommend this dish and would order it again.

So a mixed meal at Fortune last night, with intolerably sloppy work in the sauce department, but also with certain things on the menu that call me back: Boneless Duck's Feet with Chinese Mushrooms in Casserole, Live Frog (so they say), Beef Tripe with Sour Cabbage and Bell Peppers, etc.

However, the really important thing to remember is the $18.95 lobster during the week.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Fortune

Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Sun-Thurs: 11am-10pm

Fri & Sat: 11am-10:30pm

Dim sum prices: $2.75-7.50

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Fortune holds a special place in my heart. For the last 15 years, my family and I have been going there for dim sum, usually for special occasions – relatives coming in from out of town, kids home from college, father’s day brunches. My dad even had is 80th birthday there, but that was for dinner. And I am very grateful that it exists, filling a niche in the area that no other restaurant does. Yet despite all of these fond memories, it’s hard for me to ignore this question flitting around in the back of my head: are we sure it’s good?

You see, for quite a while Fortune was, in my mind, the standard by which all other dim sum was measured. In fact, that might have been the conceit to which I clung most closely as I became acculturated to Canada several years ago. And for a while, I succumbed to this self-deception, convincing myself that the har gau at Vancouver’s dim sum joints were too large, defying the one-bite concept I was used to; and how could any self respecting purveyor of dim sum not offer chili oil? But after dozens of dim sums in Vancouver, I could no longer resist the realization that Fortune, albeit a different beast in a different context, just wasn’t as good as I remembered it.

First, I should note that what Fortune is attempting - push-cart dim sum seven days a week - is actually quite admirable. In fact, these are grand aspirations given many of the top of the line dim sum restaurants I’ve been to resort to check-card ordering on off-days, and often as the default. Of course there is probably some wisdom there, giving the kitchen the chance to cook items to order, rather than letting them circulate until some unwitting fool ends up with cold gai lan. But done right, there is something cool about foraging from a parade of pushcarts. Maybe it’s the uncertainty, or the lingering hope that what you want is right around the corner. Of course, that is assuming there is something worth waiting for.

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Starting with the classic steamed items, Fortune’s har gau barely resembles the plump dumplings bursting with pristine prawn that you’d get at a better restaurant. On a good day, Fortune’s version is about average; on a bad day, they’re mushy or freezer burned. The same goes for the siu mai. The best siu mai I’ve had were giant conglomerations, alternating with chunks of pork and shrimp, chopped just to the point where the portions of shrimp are recognizable, but still mingle with the pork. At Fortune, the ingredients are ground together in industrial homogeneity, destroying the lightness that is characteristic of finely crafted siu mai. I have no complaints with other traditional steamed items, such as steamed baos, sticky rice, and ribs, other than there is no apparent effort to elevate them beyond merely acceptable.

In what I refer to as the “bulky” category, there are a couple items of note. In particular, if you can get the roasted chicken on its first pass through the dining room, then it’s a real steal. This is one dish that has changed a bit over the past several years – it used to be served with seasoned salt, but no additional herbs on the bird – but is just as good as ever. Now there is no salt on the side, but some garlic on the chicken’s perfectly light and crispy skin. Of course, there is always the risk of winding up with a bird that’s been passed around too many times (mirroring life). We’ve tried asking a waiter or captain for a fresh one, but often times they will just retrieve a chicken from a nearby cart and microwave it. Also falling into the “good if fresh” category is fried beef chow fun, which is served the dry style, and can pick up some nice charred flavor from the pan.

Everything else seems to fit the mold of capably made, but lacking any real flourish. My dad likes the deep-fried half moon pork dumplings, which are good if inconsistently filled. The rice noodle rolls (cheong fun) filled with shrimp are a trustworthy option. And I’m never disappointed by the egg tarts (dan tats). But I think that’s really the problem with Fortune. They are perfectly happy sending out dim sum fare that aspires merely to meet expectations. And even this is often marred by long layovers on the push cart. There are no house specials, nothing to bring customers in other than the fact that they are the only restaurant in the area offering push cart dim sum experience. But maybe that’s Fortune’s charm: like your favorite neighborhood diner, it’s good enough to be good enough. And maybe I’m just being too picky. I just can’t ignore this growing feeling that Fortune can, and perhaps should be so much more than it currently is.

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As a sidenote, Don is right, they did change hands a couple of years ago. The original owner wanted to move back to Shanghai, so he sold it to a couple of guys, one of them being a silent partner. They kept the kitchen staff, and most of the front of house. And of course the cavernous warehouse of a space has remained largely unchanged. My brother has picked up carryout there a few times, and reports it’s nearly empty at night.

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There are no house specials, nothing to bring customers in other than the fact that they are the only restaurant in the area offering push cart dim sum experience.

I agree with your review but I do want to point out that Mark's Duck House, across the street (Rt. 50) from Fortune does pushcart dim sum on weekends. I personally prefer Mark's over Fortune, but Mark's isn't significantly better.

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And of course the cavernous warehouse of a space has remained largely unchanged. My brother has picked up carryout there a few times, and reports it’s nearly empty at night.

That was the downfall of the Reston Fortune, which we used to go to frequently for dim sum. I picked up non-dim sum carryout there a few times, and the cavernous space was always nearly empty. Who wants to eat in a big empty barn with tables and chairs piled up in the corners? Was a shame, because they did a nice job with seafood dishes.

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Oh, I too meant to post that I had been here recently for weekend dim sum for the 1st time in over a year and found the experience to be much better than I remembered. There were way more people driving carts around the space and there seemed to be high turnover of food, resulting in fresh plates. Even during my previous visits, when the place was packed, this didn't always seem to be the case. Anyway, i was pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of the food.

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I haven't been there in a few years. I used to do carryout: rice crepe with shrimp (love the sauce), turnip cake (sometimes great, sometimes old), and the best dimsum of all--roast pork croissants. I'm going back there this weekend--hope all the items are still on the menu.

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Has the ownership of Fortune changed again recently? We were planning to go there for dim sum today, but didn't go in because the sign above the door (painted on the glass) was something in Vietnamese. The original Fortune sign (on the building) above the door is still there.

We instead headed across the street to Mark's Duck House and found the dim sum much better than the last time we were there (many years ago).

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Went there again for carryout dimsum on a busy Saturday lunchtime.  I was trying their Cantonese Roast Chicken (炸å­é¸¡) for the first time.  It's rare to get this dish in this area, though common in NY Chinatown and one of my favorites.  It was on their dimsum menu and it was awful.  Salty and old-tasting.  I doubt if that chicken was cooked today or yesterday.  My guess is not many people order it so they served me old food.  What a disappointment.  However, their deep-fried eggplant with shrimp paste and roast pork croissants were very good.  

BTW, if anyone knows where I can order ç‚¸å­é¸¡ in DC/NOVA, I would appreciate it.  I remember asking Full Kee at Baileys a few years ago and they said I had to order it a day in advance.  Sigh...

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Went there again for carryout dimsum on a busy Saturday lunchtime.  I was trying their Cantonese Roast Chicken (炸子鸡) for the first time.  It's rare to get this dish in this area, though common in NY Chinatown and one of my favorites.  It was on their dimsum menu and it was awful.  Salty and old-tasting.  I doubt if that chicken was cooked today or yesterday.  My guess is not many people order it so they served me old food.  What a disappointment.  However, their deep-fried eggplant with shrimp paste and roast pork croissants were very good.  

BTW, if anyone knows where I can order ç‚¸å­é¸¡ in DC/NOVA, I would appreciate it.  I remember asking Full Kee at Baileys a few years ago and they said I had to order it a day in advance.  Sigh...

Fortune, at its peak, had two restaurants (one in Reston), and was *good*. It has been slowly contracting over the years!

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We hadn't been here probably since my last post in 2010, owing much to the fact that we have a disagreeable 5 yr old (when it comes to new foods). Anyway, we stopped by recently for some dim sum and I thought it was pretty good. I'll say up front that when it comes to "Chinese Food", I like it "Americanized", so YMMV. Anyway, the potstickers, pork shumai, fried szechuan noodles, and fried pork bun were all solid. There was some kind of taro dumpling in a birds-nest-style fried enclosure that was excellent. The sticky rice was flat out bad. We were there around 11:30, so the restaurant wasn't crowded, and we got great service, both from the cart drivers but also the water re-fillers. Also we got 6 items (maybe 1 more, I forget), and with tax and tip, got out of there for under $40. Not bad for 2 and a half people, with food left over. Oh, and we got the boy to try some new things, which he liked, so there's that.

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We moved our occasional Dim Sum outings from Fortune (We really liked the Reston location but I suspect it was just too big to sustain) across the street to Hong Kong Pearl a few years ago. Our most recent HKP visit (New Year's Day) was successful.

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1 hour ago, hopsing said:

I will have to give wu gok another try.  As a kid, I really disliked it but perhaps with my sophisticated adult palate...:P

We got some of these at our recent visit to HK Pearl and asked our daughter -- the more culinary adventurous of the twins -- to try it. She loved it. Had no idea this was considered such an "adventurous" item on the dim sum cart. Just a Chinese latke to me.

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Between HK Pearl, Mark's and Fortune, this is the Bermuda Triangle of dim sum.  None are really bad, none are really good.  Today's har gow looked really good - all whole shrimp, not shrimp paste.  The kids ate those and smacked their lips.  The siu mais were properly sized, but a little dense.  I enjoyed their chicken feet and pork ribs in black bean sauce.  The steamed tripe was  bland so I only took a couple of bites.  The wu gok (tarot dumpling) came cold and the shell didn't hold up (not crunchy).  The stir-fried bok choy was serviceable.

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Update: Fortune went dark for “renovations” many weeks ago, with a report of plans to reopen earlier this month, but is now closed permanently from what I can tell. I haven’t been since HK Pearl opened years ago (and never thought quality was great), but I know it’s been an institution in 7 Corners for decades & it’s always sad to see a longtime business go dark. 

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1 minute ago, Jessica Strelitz said:

Update: Fortune went dark for “renovations” many weeks ago, with a report of plans to reopen earlier this month, but is now closed permanently from what I can tell. I haven’t been since HK Pearl opened years ago (and never thought quality was great), but I know it’s been an institution in 7 Corners for decades & it’s always sad to see a longtime business go dark. 

Wow. Most people have probably forgotten that there was a Fortune in Reston that closed in 2007 - it was really very good back in the day. Thanks for the info, Jessica!

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Noooo. This was our old reliable dim sum place.  It wasn't particularly good in the last few years (I actually wrote a bad review on yelp after one really bad experience with cold food etc.) but somehow we found ourselves going back every so often for a couple specific dishes.  We live in Mclean- where do you recommend for dim sum physically close to Fortune?

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13 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Wow. Most people have probably forgotten that there was a Fortune in Reston that closed in 2007 - it was really very good back in the day. Thanks for the info, Jessica!

We liked the Reston Fortune a lot -- the space was just way too big for the non-dim sum hours. Haven't been to the 7Corners one in a while, HKP sort of became our dim-sum go to, not that it was that much better. Oh well, they had a good run.

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