Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wedding Banquet at Fortune House Seafood Restaurant

On Saturday, June 18 2011 we celebrated J&A's wedding banquet at the Fortune House Seafood Restaurant located at Metrotown in Burnaby (2199A-4700 Kingsway).  This being my first time going to this restaurant for any type of meal I did not know what to expect.  My wife having visited this establishment before had some preconceptions but kept them to herself as it was a number of years ago.  My ratings are in black, hers are in red.

If you were to visit the mall on a weekend, you would be hard pressed to miss the long lineup of people queued out the door and as such I was quite excited to give it a go.  Upon entering it is a decent sized restaurant with space for about 25 tables, with a fair bit of space to move around.  On closer inspection our first observation was dirty cutlery/dishes/glasses, for first impressions this is a definite no-no as smudges of leftover food, lipstick and what not make you go eww !

Anyhow, after getting that resolved we were onto dinner. Menu attached below, notice all the staples of the traditional Chinese banquet are included.  The order on the menu is not always the same as the order the food shows up but that is not unexpected either.

First Course - Fortune House Special Meats Platter
This course is a normal staple of  any banquet meal and you see the usual suspects such as the jellyfish and siu youk.

Starting from left to right from the cutlery on the plate.
Mushrooms stuffed into bean curd
Deep fried crab meat
5 spice beef shank
Siu Youk (Crispy Pork Belly)

On most appetizer platters I have seen everything other than the crab meat stick.  Trying a little bit of everything I'll just give a recap.  Jellyfish I am not a big fan of but will eat some anyways and well it tastes just like it normally does. the beef shank was a little uncooperative in getting off the plate as it is sliced quite thinly but tasted ok.  The Siu Youk the skin was not crispy but the meat was ok.  The mushrooms stuffed in bean curd is not one of the things I normally enjoy so I just went through the motions of chewing but nothing to complain about.  The last item on the plate the crab meat stick was interesting.  Having never seen that before on this platter I was curious as to how it would taste, unfortunately it was not real crab meat but pollack, great idea but poor execution.  I rate the platter as a whole as 6/10 she rates it as 7/10

2nd Course - Deep Fried Minced Prawn Balls with Chinese Ham & Vegetables
Yay ! My 2nd most favorite dish at Chinese restaurants, normally it is a combination of crab meat + prawn meat attached to a crab claw before being deep fried, but hey I'm not one to complain.  My wife didn't find it as good as other places (skin too tough, she thinks overcooked) but I found it just fine, fine enough that I had a second one later on.  9/10 she rates 8/10

3rd Course - Sauteed Cuttlefish & Sea Cucumber meat with Vegetables
I did not try any of this at all other than the peas that could have used another 20-30 seconds being blanched. 

Squid slices cooked pretty good, peas were a little under cooked and they did not get ride of the extra "vine" on the side, the sea cucumber stuck to my teeth. 7/10

4th Course - Shark's Fin Soup with shredded Chicken & Bamboo Fungus

/rant A couple of notes here, Chinese wedding banquets are not your typical let's eat as quickly as possible event often times there are games, clothing changes, and speeches that aid in making the evening extremely enjoyable (extra pts. for alliteration). As such it is often quite rare for multiple large plates to be stuck at your table as there is ample time to consume said food.  When food does start piling up the restaurants will normally transfer your uneaten food items to a smaller plate and return it to the table so you can nibble on it some more. Anyhow, we were seated as a table of "9" instead of a full "10", when booking normal tables you are booking for 10 whether they show up or not food for 10 is prepared /end rant 

At most if not all restaurants your soup type dishes are brought to your table and then portioned into the individual bowls.  As mentioned earlier 9 bowls were filled and there was enough soup leftover for a 10th bowl.  Instead of leaving the bowl at the table the servers took it right away !

I found the soup it self to be quite tasty and did not require any additional vinegar.  8/10 5/10 because of the service failure.

Shark fin pieces were sparse, broth too bland, the worst was that they filled up enough bowls for the table then took the rest away! (4/10)

5th Course - Baked Lobster w/ Goji Berry & Preserved Citrus Peel in Superior stock
As I have previously mentioned, I am not a big seafood person, so I had a little piece of lobster and I have no idea what a Goji Berry is.... It was ok, similar to my other lobster experiences, I don't see the big deal with the lobster.

Lobster – The meat was stuck on the shell and tough to take out, even for the easy pieces. Texture was a little too chewy (7.5/10)

6th Course - Braised Abalone with Sea Cucumber in Oyster Sauce
Again one of the things I don't really care for, served plated so that each person gets their piece of abalone.  I gave up after suffering from chopsticks fail, and just ate the vegetables.  They were tasty as they sat in the oyster sauce.I noticed Ray beside me did not care for the sea cucumber and left it.

Sea cucumber too hard/crunchy (not enough prep work to make it softer, or undercooked), Abalone – standard, Bean Leaves – too salty! This soaked up all the flavours (6.5/10)

7th Course - Steamed Whole Fish
Not really sure what kind of fish this was as our table went up to the front for some fun and games and we came back and saw this.  Granted the serving staff de-boned the fish hence why it looks all massacred.  I did not try the fish as I really don't like fish.

From the tiny piece I had, it was flavourful and not overcooked. However, it looked like it was butchered up and half eaten cuz there wasn’t too much meat left when we got back to the table (maybe due to the fish being small and didn’t see them take out the bones)(8.5/10)

8th Course - Deep Fried Crispy Chicken
Cooked thoroughly yet not dried out.  By this point in the night 9 people eating for 10 really takes it's toll.  The prawn cracker on top was not overly oily either and it was yummy.  8/10

Chicken – Skin was crispy but breast meat was a bit dry, overcooked by a few minutes (8.5/10)

9th Course - Braised E-Fu Noodles and Fortune House Fried Rice

Both courses were served together, the noodles were bland absolutely bland.  This was globally agreed upon to be the worse dish of the night.  The rice on the other hand was sufficiently tasty, but alas everyone was pretty full and there was a lot left over. Rice 7/10 Noodles 2/10

Rice – I think the only seafood in this was shrimp but the overall taste was too “fishy”. (7.5/10)

To sum everything up we had a great time at J&A's wedding banquet, unfortunatly the service staff were lacking looking around we saw we were not alone in not having our glasses refilled in a timely manner, and had to resort in retrieving the pitcher ourselves. As for desert there were almond cookies that were quite tasty and lotus seed filled pastires that were also quite tasty.  We were served a bite size portion of wedding cake that I found a little too sweet and my wife found "hard".  On one hand because we were a table of 9 and were not heavy seafood eaters we had lots of leftovers, other group we talked to who were a table of 9 did not have enough to eat so portions were perhaps inconsistent or lacking?

We probably will not be going back to this restaurant by choice in the future, overall we give it a 4/10

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