I am partaking in a journey where I will appraise every non-franchise restaurant in town and review their food as well as their service. It is an attempt to expand my mind and appetite. Simultaneously, I will also be taking what I learn from these establishments and attempting to remake them with my extremely limited skill.
I was apprehensive returning to the gastronomic “Thunderdome” that is Chinese cuisine. My appetite and my colon fought a desperate battle of wills for control over my culinary desires. The decision was made easier by my lack of transportation this week with my Evolution wedged onto Fountain Tire car jacks to get re-shoed. It was either Westwood Pup or a protracted trek through slush to Fortune Palace, often lauded as the best Chinese restaurant in Prince George, a claim uncontested with the best Chinese restaurant in Prince George being analogous to the best Dixie Chick; no one cares.
Fortune Palace is cursed with a location that appears advantageous, but is actually somewhat frustrating. Located off-highway, it’s difficult to notice from the distant lane, and once you see it from the adjacent lane; you’ve already missed its only entrance, forcing you to drive nearly two kilometres up a hill to the next intersection. It does benefit from an impressive exterior, with tall spreads of glass fringed by an immense parking lot which was, as you might expect, empty. The interior compliments the outer first impressions. The tables are nicely spaced with friendly employees covered in traditional garb, meaning threads no one in China wears outside of a period film. Fortune Palace has one distinction not shared with anyone else. It offers dim sum.
Let’s set the way-back machine to 2007. Despite being nearly bankrupt, I thought it beneficial to spend my last few coins on a vacation to China. I had an assignation waiting and it was a country I’d always desired to see. Not once during my time there did I order one chow mein or egg foo young. Mostly, I had dim sum. I not only haven’t found many places offering dim sum in my other travels, but the frozen varieties I did locate paled in comparison. Despite having tried the dim sum at Fortune Palace before, I decided to repeat the experience for the sake of this article.
Before the plate arrived, I ordered a bowl of wonton, and thank the Monkey King that Fortune Palace doesn’t follow Great Wall’s example. The broth had flavour and the wontons share the bowl with vegetables and cuts of indentified beef. Good enough for me. The dim sum that did arrive strangely matched the frozen variety you can purchase far cheaper from the local Chinese Store (the punctuation is correct; it’s actually called the Chinese Store), so much so that I wonder why anyone would waste their time and money paying a place to cook it for them. Plus, for $10.75, I didn’t get a lot of food. I got one egg-roll, four pot stickers, two shumai (pork), and a pair of har gow (shrimp). I can get can more sushi for that price.
I’m sure their regular menu is superior to their competition, so goes the claims made by friends and family. On those grounds, Fortune Palace deserves some attention, by any other measure that there’s no other Chinese restaurant for miles. Approaching from the South, Fortune Palace would be your first taste of Asian cuisine past the city limits, with your next stop being Great Wall. Despite not comparing these restaurants on an equal culinary baseline, I can still confirm the claim that Fortune Palace would be the preferred location. I would just avoid the dim sum; it’s borderline larceny.