Sunday noon, made the trek WAY up north to the Chinatown complex to try the dim sum at Fortune. My previous trip up there resulted in slight disappointment when we got there to learn, no they don't have dim sum on weekend evenings, just daytime (I had misread their website). So another trip was warranted to see just how good their highly praised dim sum is. (See my June report on Fortune here.)
The "grand ballroom" as it were, is set up well for dim sum carts to maneuver. It's a huge hotel-like banquet room, with a ton of ornate chandeliers, and those stackable padded chairs. Right as we were sitting, a cart was passing, and we immediately jumped on it.
The crispy-battered, fried green beans were one of the best dishes of the entire meal. Clockwise from there, the pan-fried buns were something we had never seen before; they were a light breading that appeared to have been steamed then pan-fried, and had a good pork filling. From their menu online, these might be the "Shanghai steamed buns," an item not normally considered for traditional Chinese dim sum. The rectangular item above were contained shrimp and a cream cheese type filling; lightly breaded and fried, they were similar to crab rangoon. In the top left corner, was the pork belly with sweet and sour sauce. Unfortunately this was served room temperature, and thus very unappealing. While the sauce was good, this was one large miss. To its right, was the BBQ duck, which was quite good. The skin was crisp, not real fatty, and the meat had good flavor, including the use of Chinese five spice powder. On the right are taro dumplings, which were stuffed with pork & vegetables; I love the light & crispy nature of taro; these were good, but greasy on the bottom.
I jumped at these steamed spinach & shrimp dumplings, because I have never seen them shaped like this. It almost looked like they had been made in a muffin tin; I think from their menu, this is one of their shaomai offerings with crab roe on top. Needed scallions or ginger in it. The oval shaped dumplings are the haam sui gau, a rice flour dumpling filled with pork & vegetables. These were tasty, though a little soy sauce & chile paste kicked things up.
At the 3 o'clock position, we have the baked BBQ pork buns, or char siu bau; not bad, but not enough pork filling in them for my taste. My friend who eats dimsum at Chinatown (the restaurant) a lot thinks Chinatown's are better. At 6pm, sesame balls, which were deceivingly still hot (temperature-wise) on the inside; these had a mung bean filling that I almost burned the roof of my mouth with. At 9 pm, pan-fried turnip cake (probably daikon), which I didn't totally love, but I was still fascinated by it's gelatinous texture. And at 12 o'clock, we have something the cart pusher described as an almond milk soup. It was different. It seemed like Pepperidge Farms puff pastry on top, and then a very strong almond-scented broth of almond milk, sugar, and raw almonds. We think they had a heavy hand with the almond extract in this one, as it was a bit off-putting.
Our slightly less-adventurous eater was happy to see some salt & pepper shrimp and some meat (pork?) & spinach dumplings go by. At this point I was filling up, so I didn't try any of these last two, but he said they were good. As you can see these were the whole shrimp, heads, tails & feet still on! We didn't try any of the rice noodle rolls (filled with meat or shrimp), though I saw plenty of them, or the crispy squid, which I did not see, but it's listed on their menu; there was a bunch of crispy fish pieces going around though.
I have heard from two Chinese acquaintances that they think Fortune is the best dim sum in town. Don't know that I am thoroughly convinced. I need to get back to Shanghai (on Middle Fiskville Road), where I haven't been in almost 3 years, because I remember that being incredibly good. Looking back at my previous post on Fortune and with this dim sum meal fresh in my head, I find their food to be fresh, but bland overall (the almond extract being the exception); everything needs more garlic, ginger, scallion, chile, etc. So the jury's still out on the best dim sum spot in town!