Okay I’ll admit it, my Achilles’ heel has always been, and may always be –Asian cuisine. I haven’t even moderately tired of it since childhood. It may have been the lure of the mysteriously dark Polynesian themed restaurants of the 1970’s with all the unfamiliar and glorious aromas wafting under my nose, or the brightly colored entrees and half-moon shaped rice mounds all served neatly under the “stainless steel dome.” Although it was the Western or American Chinese cuisine that initially hooked me, it’s the authentic and more contemporary styles of Asian cookery that feeds my passion.
The American Chinese cuisine is a style of cooking that modifies or adapts authentic Chinese cuisine into dishes more acceptable to the American palate. Why? In the early 19th century the Chinese were excluded from most U.S. jobs in the wage economy by racial discrimination or lack of language fluency. In order to culturally assimilate, the Chinese established their own businesses with products and services that catered to American Society while remaining mindful of their origins. It was genius.
The Fortune House in Cumberland, RI is a prime example of an Asian Restaurant that respects the delicate balance of American and Asian cuisine and is amenable to change as the dining public tastes evolve.
Dispensed is the utilitarian tableware and replaced with decorative serving dishes, cast iron tea pots and earthenware table accessories. The menu attempts to focus attention away from heavy sauces and deep-fried entrees by offering flavorful, healthful and creative alternatives. The entrees at The Fortune House lean more towards an authentic Chinese philosophy in cookery – proteins (i.e. chicken, beef, shrimp) enhance a dish rather than overshadow it.
Poor Zuo Zongtang (1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty general from Hunan whose namesake -General Tsao’s Chicken – is served all over the U.S. He would have rolled over in his grave if he knew how he was being memorialized (fried chicken with goopy sweet sauce). In his defense, the Fortune House does make the dish pretty well!
One of the most overlooked benefits of the Fortune House is the exceptional value that diners are offered in comparison to the care, complexity and freshness of what is being served. The vegetables are always perfectly blanched to preserve their vibrant color. The proteins are succulent and fresh tasting, and the sauces are light and flavorful. The food is not overly salted and never bathing in the oil from the wok from whence it came.
Additionally, Fortune House offers several noteworthy starters that are delicately fried in a light batter; Shrimp, Vegetarian or a Combo Tempura. Their Scallion Pancake is worth the trip alone!
The Fortune House Restaurant is a spotlessly clean restaurant with restrooms cleaner than the ones in my own home. The ventilation system within the kitchen and the dining room must work efficiently because upon return to the office, my clothes never smell like the lunch I just ate.
Just like you, I too have my local favorite where everybody knows my name. It is the place where I feel most genuinely welcome and consider it to be my restaurant home. Fortune House just makes me happy, and if I had hair, I could let it down there – figuratively!
Fortune House Restaurant 1800 Mendon Road, Cumberland, RI 02864 Tel: 401-333-9976