Sherman's Food Adventures: Fortune House

Fortune House

Dim sum, I love it. I remember when I was younger, we'd go every weekend, sometimes on both Saturday and Sunday. That probably explains why I eat it all the time. It's like an addiction. Mind you, I think I'm addicted to all food in general (if that is not obvious already). Back then, there weren't many choices. You could count on one hand the places you could go for Dim Sum. It brings back memories of Golden Crown, Ming's, Park Lok, Pennisula, Kingsland, Pink Pearl and Flamingo. Heck, I even met one of my good friends (Goose) while we were kids at Golden Crown.

One place that serves up pretty good dim sum is Fortune House Restaurant at Metrotown in Burnaby. Similar to most Dim Sum restaurants in town, this place is always busy on both weekends and weekdays. Unless you come right when it opens at 10:00am, you'll be SOL and waiting for around an hour for a table. Alternatively, you call ahead and make a reservation. However, a reservation only puts you into a separate list for people who have called in, so you will still have to wait for your table. The estimated time for a wait is beyond 30 minutes. Now, you may wonder why the wait? Well, the dim sum pretty good as I had mentioned. Furthermore, there is a real lack of competition nearby. You have Top Gun in Crystal Mall which is not bad. But then you get into places such as Po King (which I would never return to).

Portions are quite generous here. You will find that the Shrimp Dumplings (haw gow) are big and cooked perfectly, with cold-water shrimp. I like how most of the filling is whole shrimp with little in the way of filler or small bits. I just wish the wrapper was a bit less gummy. It's not often that you find Scallop Rice Noodle Roll available at all Dim Sum places, so we decided to order it. The rice noodle here is soft while still maintaining it's structural integrity (interesting way to describe it eh?). Inside, there are fairly large pieces of sweet scallop and cilantro. We also got the Shrimp & Pea Shoot Dumpling and it confirmed that the rice flour wrappers are indeed gummy. However, the filling was quite good with mostly crunchy shrimp with some pea shoots. I liked that it was well-seasoned, yet I could still taste the sweetness of the shrimp.

As always, we get the rice hot pot. This time it was the Spareribs & Chinese Sausage Rice. When the server removed the lid of the hot pot, it revealed that there was a good amount of ingredients on top of the rice. Sadly, the rice itself was quite mushy and could've used a bit more cooking time. The spareribs were quite dry; however, they were quite meaty. One dish that is done quite well here is the Salty Donut Rice Noodle Roll or "Ja Leun". It's essentially a Chinese Salty Donut wrapped in rice noodle with green onions and dried shrimp (in this case, dried scallop on top). As already mentioned, the rice noodle is soft; yet holds its shape while the donut is just the right texture (in between soft and airy while having a little bit of crunch). One of my favourite Dim Sum dishes is the Fried Taro Dumplings. It's essentially ground pork, shiitake mushrooms and in this case ham encased in mashed taro root, then deep fried. Unfortunately, these ones arrived stone cold. A big no-no. Especially since there are no push carts here, it is expected that the Dim Sum would be served hot. Otherwise, the dumplings were very good being light (despite the frying) and well-seasoned. While the taro dumplings were cold, the BBQ Pork Pineapple Buns were not. This is a combination of 2 different types of pastries. It's a BBQ pork bun with pineapple bun topping (which incidentally has no pineapple in it, it just looks like a pineapple). Since it was warm, the bun itself was soft and the topping was crispy. Only thing that I didn't prefer were the onions mixed in with the BBQ pork. Don't get me wrong, it's not the fact I do not like onions, it's because I don't find that the onions add anything to the flavour of the pork. After all, it's not seafood which needs onions to help mask the fishiness which BBQ Pork doesn't have.

Definitely an acquired taste is the Steamed Chicken Feet or Phoenix Talons. They are essentially fried chicken feet that are then steamed in a oyster/soy based sauce. The trick is to steamed them until they are tender and gelatinous while not turning the skin into mush. These ones here were almost perfect with the skin being plump while very little of it detaching from the bone. Flavourwise, I thought they were a bit salty. One item that you rarely see at a Cantonese Dim Sum restaurant is the Onion Pancake Beef Roll. This is usually a Northern delicacy. However, Fortune House has changed ownership and there is a increased focus on Northern Chinese food. The roll itself was packed with beef and the pancake itself was slightly doughy.

The portions at Fortune House are quite decent and the food is generally quite good. The decor is upscale (but a bit cramped), and the service is attentive. However, the service during dim sum is a bit hurried and disorganized. But it appears the staff are trying their hardest to keep up. Food comes out at at decent pace, and we never had to wait too long, despite being a busy restaurant. Dinner is also good, matching most other restaurants in this category. Portions are not as large for dinner, but they are not small either. Service is much more attentive during dinner since they are usually much less busy. Prices are pretty reasonable for this type of restaurant, taking account the food quality, ambiance, service and cleanliness. Overall, Fortune House is a solid choice if you want to eat either dinner or dim sum.

The Good:
- Food is carefully prepared
- Good portions for Dim Sum
- Good service (for dinner)
- Location (lots of parking and inside the mall)

The Bad:
- Extremely long waits for a table during Dim Sum
- Hurried service (Dim Sum only)
- Cramped seating arrangements

Fortune House Seafood Restaurant
2199A - 4700 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC
V5H 4M1
(604) 438-8686

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