Been literally years since I went to Fortune House Seafood Restaurant. Last time was for Signature Dish 2011, a Chinese-restaurants-of-the-lower-mainland event that I've never seen again since.
The best and most surprising development is their partnership with Mealshare, a charity that gives a meal every time you buy a meal tagged with their logo on the menu.
As you can see from the pictures below, Fortune House has many qualifying items -- lots more than most Mealshare restaurants, which typically mark maybe 2-3 items.
The way Mealshare works is that the restaurant makes a contribution every time you buy a marked menu item.And because lots of people like to buy dessert (and all the desserts are Mealshare items), Fortune House is providing a lot of meals through Mealshare! This really says something about the restaurant's owner being so committed to the principles behind Mealshare that he is basically making a charitable donation with almost every patron that walks in the door.
Yeah. Some people are really nice.
For this reason alone I'm going to score them higher than they would normally get for food and service -- I didn't go tonight just to interview them about Mealshare. I went because I was invited to eat-and-blog. Read on...
My set menu tonight was courtesy of the YVRFoodies Meetup, so IT WAS COMPLIMENTARY.
That said, if you've read my recent food-for-review blog of Kaya Malay Bistro, you'll know I can't be "bought" and I'm still going to give an honest review, not necessarily tilted in their favour just because they gave me free stuff.
First, general notes:
- There were 11 at our table and everyone was taking pics, so everything was obviously cold by the time we allowed ourselves to eat. I'm sure everything that is hot tastes better hot. I didn't get the full "proper" experience.
- They mass-produced everything for about 35 people. That always takes a toll somewhere. And I noticed it right from the first dish (read on...).
- I found that overall the food was OK. And they would also score OK, except they unnecessarily lost a lot of points ("unforced errors"). For example, they provided a menu for our reference. BUT they did NOT follow the menu in terms of which courses came out. Kind of minor, but it's like a table of contents that isn't accurate. Points lost for overall sense of confidence in their competence.
- Tea refills come pretty fast!
- I asked for hot water with some lemon. It never came. Hot water was available from the refill pots at the table, but no lemon. :-( I guess they forgot.
- If I had to rate the restaurant based on this one dish, it would score zero.
- You can tell they are trying hard with presentation, using the martini glass and good mix of colour. But the veggies aren't shaped properly to really allow a very nice presentation.
- Where they really lost points with me was when I noticed that everyone else had a sprig of broccoli and I didn't. Where's my broccoli? How did that escape the notice of the kitchen and the servers -- unless no one cared to fix it. And maybe they couldn't because they had to go on to make the next dish. Whatever the case, I got one piece of veggie less, and it was such an obvious plating error.
- Where's the chili sauce? Unforced error. :shakes head: Some of the deep fried veggie sticks had some salt (or salty spice) on it, but not all. When I did have it, it seemed quite strong. Not sure if that would have gone well with any chili sauce, so maybe they substituted sauce with salting? In any case, it didn't follow the menu provided.
- Very crispy tempura coating, but also very oily tasting. Have your veggies some other way.
- Carrots at the bottom nice to look at but also needed something to help you eat it, unless you really like raw carrot.
Dim sum Trio: House Shrimp Dumpling, Deep Fried Meat Dumpling, Sticky Rice Wrapped in Bamboo Leaf
- Meat dumpling had slightly sweet skin (nice!) and I guess an OK amount of filling, which was sort of smothered by the skin. Otherwise OK.
- Sticky Rice had one token piece of very firm egg yolk and sausage. If you don't cut it open like an autopsy though, you probably wouldn't know and just know it tasted pretty good.
- I personally didn't care for the egg yolk, so I was sort of glad there was just one small piece. Interesting to get two different flavour bites because of it, though (depending on how you eat it). This one time I really regretted dissecting the item.
- Shrimp Dumpling reasonably big (but I don't know how many per dim sum order, and at what price). Didn't appear to have any filler at all, and shrimp inside was crunch-firm and sweet. Very nicely done. Wish I could have had it hot, but after taking my pics, that was just not possible.
Garlic [Steamed] Fresh Scallop served in Shell, Vermicelli, Infused Oil
- Quite a nice presentation, but ruined by the horribly chipped plate it sat on.
- Definitely a lot of garlic!
- Overall this ended up tasting like a steamed scallop plus as much garlic as you wanted on it -- and they definitely aren't stingy with it. For me, a bit boring.
- Pretty big scallop to be sure!
XO Sauce Stir Fry Beef Tenderloin, Mixed Peppers, Deep Fried Milk, [Bird's] Nest
- Really nice presentation on this.
- Super-crispy bird's nest basket.
- Deep fried milk slightly sweet, but not very "milky" tasting if you're worried about it. Very crispy on the outside, making this quite fun. A bit oily smelling but smothered by the milk once it's in your mouth.
- The menu didn't say, but there were candied (?) walnuts in there.
- Overall, I really liked this and would have had more if we didn't have to share the one plate with 11 people.
- TIP: Tear the nest at the end when you can have a dry "handle" to go with the sauce-soaked bottom part.
Deep Fried Tilapia, House Sweet and Sour Sauce, Crispy Rice
- Amazing "crispy rice" flakes stayed crispy all the way through and well past an hour -- excellent! Not that tasty on its own, so make sure to get sauce on it.
- Tilapia tail almost crispy enough to eat like a cracker. Almost. Don't try that with the cheek/head (I did. It was fail. But not many people would have tried it, I think).
- Presentation is interesting but overall not that pretty for the fish. The cooked meat blossoms out, but it's ugly. The Change has a really pretty Squirrel Fish dish if you're into this sort of deep-fried whole fish.
- Yay for filleted fish and pre-cut large chunks. Some parts closer to the head may still have bone, so watch out. Otherwise, really easy to eat.
- Lots to like here. I think it could have used some extra sauce on the side for those who might want more. But definitely do not make the fish swim in it.
Marinated Tender Pork Ribs, Coconut Curry Drizzle, Seasonal Greens
- Light on actual curry flavour and absolutely no spicy heat.
- Seasonal greens tucked underneath. A lot but you are clearly not getting more cheap greens than rib, which is good. Sometimes restaurants tilt it way too much to the roughage that's supposed to be secondary.
- Tender meat that's almost fall-off-the-bone. As it is, you can scrape it/pull it off with your fork.
- I would have liked it with stronger curry flavour, but this is not an Indian restaurant, so I understand if it's lighter that way. That said, if I want curry, I'll go to an Indian restaurant. (Careful, I'm biased here since I like my curry spicy).
Traditional Soy Sauce Chicken
- Tender, moist chicken. Not overdone with the soy sauce. Otherwise kind of boring for me.
- Definitely needed to be eaten hot, which I didn't get a chance to do.
Interesting that the restaurant, which was already giving us a free multi-course meal, was responsive to tables saying they weren't full. Our table was reasonably full with people close to done well before the chicken. But nevertheless the restaurant responded with a heaping plate of rice for each table, working out to slightly less than one bowl per person at our larger table of 11.
No spoons provided though. Hmm...
The chicken was left on the table since there were many pieces left -- but they had also cleared the communal serving chopsticks. Hmm...
- Thanks for telling me to use the condensed milk on it. Not. I didn't even see it on the table initially.
- Definitely bonus points for the really nice fish shape -- the carp (plus golden colour) as a symbol of prosperity.
- Points lost for plating from the start -- The dish came with the spoon sitting on the carp (see picture!). I was worried the tender pudding would be ruined, but it turns out it's on the rather firm like-a-custard-firm side, so the fishie survived just fine. Still... unforced error.
- If it didn't have the fish shape, I'd never have ordered this. It tastes inferior to an actual slice of sweet mango, so clearly making it a pudding did nothing for it -- so why would you bother making it into a pudding? Oh, right -- for the fish shape.
- I did get to try it with condensed milk. For my friend it smoothed out the flavour and made it creamier. For me it didn't really do anything except further weaken the mango flavour.
And that was it for dinner!
Also in attendance at our table:
- Rosy Cheeks Project - Her blog post has an excellent overview of the many food-related guest speakers that evening.
- Daddy Blogger