Cantonese food at two Milwaukee locations
Fortune Chinese Restaurant
S. 108th St. (414) 328-9890 5512 S. 108th St. (414) 529-9988 | $
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First-time visitors to Fortune Chinese Restaurant likely will be handed a menu with a green cover. It is good enough, with Chinese standards like egg rolls, hotand-sour soup and General Tso’s chicken. But this is the American menu. Ask for the Chinese menu and you will find a very different experience. Few items will be familiar to most American diners, with ingredients like jellyfish, duck feet and pork intestines.
Fortune Chinese Restaurant offers two locations, both of which are on Highway 100. An expansion and exterior remodel for the original, just north of Oklahoma Avenue, have nearly disguised its origins as an Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips. The nice interior features Chinese brush paintings and framed floral embroideries. The largest tables have Lazy Susans in the center, which can be useful for sharing items—a proper Chinese dinner should have a large variety.
The menu, which offers a wide scope, is very well suited for moderately adventurous Western tastes. The general feel is Cantonese with a few Szechuan touches, though there also is Fujian-style fried rice. Don’t be deterred by duck feet and pork intestines. Crispy skin chicken ($9.95) is a perfect example. It is extremely simple—a half chicken with the bone in and cut into pieces. The meat is moist, and the crisp skin is the best part.
Among the few appetizers are spring rolls and pot stickers that are typically found on American menus. The soups are large, intended to serve four or more. But you can order a decent hot-and-sour soup ($1.95-$3.25) from the American menu. There also is a nice seaweed soup ($1.95-$3.25) that has bits of Napa cabbage.
There are more than 100 entrees on the Chinese menu. A Cantonese specialty is the spicy salt and pepper dishes ($9.25-$13.95). They are made with a very light batter and served with dried garlic and slices of jalapeño pepper. The meats are smelt, a fish fillet, whole shrimp with the shell and head on, soft-shell crab, squid and pork chop. The servings are large.
The tender squid is a favorite. Try to request scallops prepared in this same way—they are not listed on the menu, but they are excellent. Pork with Chinese pickles ($8.55) comes with bean sprout, scallion, onion and carrot. The pickles are mustard green pickles that add a slightly tart taste.
Many dishes use tofu, though only a few are vegetarian. Ma po tofu ($9.25), cubes of tofu with peas, hot bean sauce and chopped scallions, is a Szechuan classic from the city of Chengdu. It is offered with pork or as a vegetarian version. Serve it over rice, as it has a very rich sauce. This is a fine version of a classic dish.
Something a bit different is called seafood hard and soft bean curd ($13.55). Soft tofu is first fried in oil, which creates a much firmer texture. The seafood is shelled shrimp, squid, scallops and fish. It is in a simple clear sauce and served over halved baby bok choy.
The American menu offers many specials for lunch. All of the items are less than $6 and include soup, fried rice and choice of egg foo young or egg roll. It is a deal that is hard to beat.
Table service and the kitchen move at an efficient pace. Fortune offers one of the area’s largest authentic menus, and both locations offer food of the same standards.