Upscale Dim Sum. That sounds almost like an oxymoron. Despite some items consisting of seafood (predominantly shrimp), Dim Sum can be quite reasonably-priced. In fact, more often than not, most Dim Sum joints offer dishes starting at around $3.50 (and some places at under $3.00). Then you have the more deluxe establishments such as Kirin, Victoria, Imperial, Red Star, Spicy Court, Fisherman's Terrace, Sea Harbour and the sort where you'd be lucky to find anything under $4.00. That begs the question: is it worth it? Depends on your needs. If you merely want good Dim Sum at reasonable prices, you can easily find it at Golden Phoenix, Western Lake, Happy Valley and the sort. Finally, if you really want it on the cheap, then places like Kam Wai and The Roc fit the bill for under $3.00 per dish. However, there are times when an expensive Dim Sum meal is in order. It could be a special event, merely be a splurge or somebody has money to burn.
The former was the case this time as we were taking Viv's dad out for a belated birthday meal. We've been to Fortune Restaurant before albeit for dinner. It was "okay" while still disappointing due to their high prices. And those prices continue into Dim Sum service. In fact, probably some of the highest prices for Dim Sum I've seen in the GVRD other than Imperial and Victoria. Despite these prices, Fortune Restaurant remains a very busy place due to its location. Lots of covered parking in Oakridge and the ample amount of clientele in the area are some reasons for its popularity. Luckily for us, we had made a reservation and we got a table right away. Too bad it was in the middle of the whole place, away from the window. Not wanting to use my flash, the pictures turned out quite poor. I need a new lens. Hint, hint Viv...
Predictably, we started with the Haw Gow (Shrimp Dumplings) and they were alright. The filling was decent with a good amount of crunchy shrimp. I didn't like the addition of bamboo shoots, I personally find it a contradiction to the shrimp. When not rinsed properly, the bamboo shoots overpower the delicate shrimp. It was the case here. Furthermore, the dumpling skin was oversteamed being soft and fell apart once we picked it up. Of course the next item would be the Sui Mai (Pork and Shrimp Dumpling). I'm sorry to say this was a complete fail. The whole darn thing was so loose, it didn't even make it to my bowl. Furthermore, the meat was over-
tenderized. No bounce from the pieces of pork, just mush. At least the shrimp was good and it did taste okay.
Generally, one of the most expensive Dim Sum items is the the Shark's Fin Dumpling in Soup. Hence, it'd better be good. This one was not. The dumpling itself was harder than a someone on Viagara. Even after several stabs at it, the thing didn't fall apart. There was far too much chewy pork and not enough gelatin and seafood. The chicken broth was also quite bland, not exhibiting any depth or luxuriousness. Generally, the soup should have an almost silkiness to it. On that note, the Shrimp & Chive Dumplings were a bit hit and miss. We liked the filling. As you can clearly see, there were large whole shrimp tucked inside. Nicely cooked too. However, the dumpling skin was very thick and gummy. I do realize due to the high tapioca content of this wrapper, it will be gummy; but it was far too thick. In terms of the Beef Rice Noodle Roll, the noodle was slightly on the chewier side; yet wasn't too thick. I would've preferred if it was served at a warmer temperature though (this probably contributed to the chewier noodle). Beef was tender and there was only a moderate amount of green onion.
We got a Chicken Rice Hot Pot for the kiddies and this has to be one of the smallest versions we've ever seen. The picture doesn't really show how small it is. Imagine a regular rice bowl for one person and you'll get the size of it. Portion-size aside, the rice was not too bad with a nice chewy texture (good for adding the sweet soy to) and the chicken was tender and not too salty. The smallish portion size trend continued with the Black Bean Spareribs. When you can see portions of the dish where spareribs should be, that is never a good thing. To make matters worse, most of the pieces were not very meaty. Sure, that could just be bad luck; but that's what we got. Texture-wise, it was okay, a bit on the over-tenderized side though. I did like that it was only mildly seasoned, so it wasn't too salty. We could still taste the pork.
For me, it was quite confusing why the Daikon Radish Cake arrived stone cold. Since it comes directly from the kitchen, one would expect it to be served hot. Well, I'm sure the kitchen is busy and as such, this was probably fried up in advance. I don't blame them for this since it can take quite a long time to fry it up right. However, at the very least, reheat it by quickly frying it on both sides or even *gasp* nuke it. I don't mind. I just don't want cold food. Other than it being cold, it was okay though with a nice balance of flavours.
The Beef Tendon was a relatively large dish since it filled the small plate. By now, we were not expecting too much in the way of portion size. In fact, it was pretty decent. Walking the fine line between being too soft or too chewy, this was perfect. It was on the sweeter side; but all-in-all, a solid offering. On the other hand, the Beef Meatballs were not to my liking at all. These were a bit different than the typical beef meatballs found at most other Dim Sum restaurants. These were partially encased in the same wheat wrapper used in sui mai. No matter, that really didn't impact the dish too much. Yet, the one word I can describe these is mushy. Yes, these were some pretty mushy balls. And I hate mushy balls! Devoid of texture and frankly devoid of much meat flavour, these were a complete fail. Far too much baking soda and starch.
As for the Steamed Chicken Buns, they were quite wet. What I mean by that is the bun itself had spots that were completely drenched. Reason for this? Nothing inherently wrong with the steaming time or the bun itself; rather the final product suffered from being steamed in a metal steamer. Unlike a bamboo steamer which can both soak up moisture and is permeable, the metal one traps the moisture. It's a catch-22 since a metal steamer is more sanitary; yet not as effective. I guess one can't win... Other than the moisture, the buns themselves were fluffy and the chicken meat was tender while retaining some texture.
Lastly, we got the Egg Tarts. I have to admit that I'm biased when it comes to this dessert. I only like the flaky pastry-type, not like the ones here which are the hard tart shells. Somehow the texture is all wrong for me. Yes, it is a nice textural contrast to the sweet egg custard; but personally, I just like it all soft. So this wasn't bad per se, I just don't like these shells. Now personal opinion aside, we universally agreed that the Dim Sum at Fortune was not that great. Considering the price point, it made it even worse. Paying that kind of coin for mediocre Dim Sum does not cut it. Sure, the location is nice and the restaurant itself has an upscale feel to it. However, with Spicy Court kiddie-corner, there is no contest between the two. I guess the plethora of clientele with money to burn will keep this place in business.
- Nice location with covered parking
- Relatively nice restaurant
- Service was okay
- Food is sub-par
- Overpriced considering the quality of the food