Saturday, December 15, 2012

New Fortune

On our way back to DC after a great hike at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland, we stopped at New Fortune in Gaithersburg for dim sum.  New Fortune is the kind of dim sum place we're used to: huge with a traffic jam of carts in the aisles.  They serve dim sum on the push carts from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week.  This is really handy if you're in need of dim sum on a Wednesday (most places only serve it on the weekends).

The staff members at New Fortune were super friendly.  Before we had even taken our seats, a waitress noticed me eyeing the ham sui gok (football dumplings) on the cart and rushed over to bring them to us.  Within seconds, we had a table crowded with our usual dim sum favorites.

I surprised B by ordering off of the cart o' random vegetables (I usually stick to the starches at dim sum) and it was the best thing we ordered.  Their Chinese broccoli (gai lan) was outstanding.  We were happy with the other dishes too, though some were a little off on the dough to meat ratio (heavy on the dough side).

I'd probably rank it behind Mark's Duck House in quality but just in front of Hollywood East because the dim sum palace atmosphere is worth extra points.  We didn't wait for a table at 11:30 a.m. but I've heard you may be in for a wait if you go after church lets out on Sundays.  We were in and out in about 25 minutes and on the road back to DC with a brick of tasty dim sum in our bellies.

Second Thoughts From B

In my mind, New Fortune was the mirror image of the stereotypical dim sum place.  The ladies working the carts were disorientingly friendly.  The water and tea service was outstanding.  The gai lan cooked perfectly.  These are all areas that other restaurants struggle with yet the basic dumplings which form the backbone of any dim sum experience were a little off.

Since we're on vacation and I'm a normally glass half full guy anyway, I'll focus on what New Fortune did exceptionally well and as J said, that's the gai lan.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that never in the history of the world has someone gone to a restaurant because of excellent gai lan.  It is a side dish at best.  Something that adds a little color to the table and an opportunity for our mothers to tell us to each our vegetables (or roughage as my mom likes to say).

I've eaten more than my share of gai lan through the years, but I'm particularly scarred by my experiences in China.  Traveling from city to city with my extended family, we had dim sum every morning.  At 7am.  Often in a stuffy hotel ballroom that was struggling with the ambient heat and humidity of a Chinese summer.  Nothing like waking up way too early, wandering into a sauna, and having a giant plate of hot vegetables placed in front of you while your grandmother takes mental notes on who is eating what.  Not that I'm complaining, but it turned my insides green.  I'm the wrong kind of doctor, but that doesn't seem right.

For the last 15 years, I haven't seen gai lan the same way.  I still like it but I've never been particularly excited about it.  Its either too hard or too stringy or too bitter or too heavily coated in sauce.  Much to my surprise and their credit, New Fortune made me do a double take.  My chopsticks kept finding their way back to the pile of greens instead of the dumplings.  Quite a feat.
New Fortune on Urbanspoon

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