(THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED.)
Eating at Fortune Asian Bistro is like breaking open a fortune cookie. What's on the outside is one thing; what's hidden inside, something of a surprise.
It's easy to make the assumption that this is a typical Asian-fusion restaurant, complete with requisite sushi bar. The surprise is the laminated menu that accompanies the regular bill of fare. Some of the writing is in Chinese; what's listed might just as well be from an authentic Chinatown restaurant in Flushing or Manhattan.
I can still recall the way my mouth tingled from the high-voltage dan dan noodles with chili-soy sauce. Sliced beef tendon with roasted chili vinaigrette was another electrifying first course. With most of the dishes, a chili pepper next to a menu listing means "hot" as advertised.
I marveled at the bean-gluten sheets with mushrooms and bamboo shoots; it was a ringer, in taste and texture, for beef.
Chicken hot-and-sour soup, from the restaurant's regular menu, resonated. I liked the milder pork-and-winter-melon soup, too.
Singapore rice noodles, also from the regular menu, had a pleasing curry flavor (too often, I find the dish harsh) and lots of spicy zing. The "tender sliced lamb with three kinds of pepper" proved as fiery as it was delicious.
A truly luxuriant dish, meatballs Shanghai style (popularly known as "lion's head"), were encircled by bright green baby bok choy. Wu Xi ribs, another Shanghai specialty, were ultra-tender, a bit sweet.
I did try two maki rolls - the "green dragon" with barbecue eel, cucumber, avocado and eel sauce as well as a spicy crunchy tuna roll; both were fresh and fine.
Cold sliced marinated duck was overwhelmed by a strong five-spice flavor. I ordered a braised whole fish with scallions and got a lovely sea bass virtually drowning in gloppy sauce. The "dry sauteed minced pork with noodles" turned out to be cellophane noodles cooked to near disintegration and fairly bland.
Service proved inconsistent. One server was hospitable, another seemed put out by any questions.
The laminated menu insert is actually a ticket to another culinary dimension. You could return to this restaurant often and discover something new every time. -- Reviewed by Joan Reminick, 4/1/09.