Sunday, 4 August 2013

Fortune House Chinese restaurant, Cathays review

Fortune House is situated in Cathays - the heart of Cardiff’s studentsville.

The miscellany of bars, letting agents, takeaways and launderettes on Salisbury Road all contribute to a microcosm of student-life. 

A couple of friends have been telling us we should visit Fortune House for yonks.

The reason being – they’re massive fans of the Emperor’s Choice menu, an all you can eat affair with a difference. 

Instead of dishes which have congealed in hot plates over the course of the evening or having to go through the rigmarole of hunting for scraps of meat in a vat of sauce, Fortune House's all you can eat menu is cooked to order and served to your table.

It's like eating at a regular restaurant except you can order as much of ANYTHING as you want. And at £16.50 a head, it’s rather good value too.

Whilst we waited for our friends, Mrs G and I nibbled on some crisp prawn crackers and supped on bottles of Tsingtao. It required some serious willpower to not sully my appetite by demolishing the whole dish of crackers. 

To start, we ordered a gargantuan selection of starters...

Mini barbecue ribs were tender and coated in sticky goodness. Juicy chicken wings were sprinkled liberally with garlic and green chillies.

Prawn toast was crisp, ungreasy and topped generously – everything a socially acceptable form of fried bread should be. Mini spring rolls and deep fried wontons however, were stingy and homogenous in filling... not that I didn’t still trough a load.

A quarter crispy duck was crisp skinned and moist of flesh. The accompaniments of hoisin, soft pancakes and diced cucumber and spring onion were all present and correct.

I’ve never quite got the appeal of lettuce wraps - it’s probably the salad thing. However, our friends guzzled a load of the iceberg cocoons with their spiced shredded chicken and crisp vermicelli filling...and then ordered some more.

Chicken and beef satay weren’t authentic but did the job.

Nearly full, we moved onto main courses. 

Again, we got a little trigger happy and ordered 2 dishes each. Fortunately, as the portion sizes were smaller than the average Chinese restaurant, we managed to polish everything off.

Highlights included excellent roast duck & pork in plum sauce with tender, fat-rendered meat and a sticky fruity sauce. King prawns in sweet & sour sauce were good too – plump crustaceans, crisp vegetables and a dayglo tangy sauce.  

Roast duck & pork with ginger and spring onions was enjoyably punchy.

Crunchy and sticky crispy beef was tasty but would have benefited from a kick of chilli.

Singapore vermicelli was well spiced and flecked with char sui pork, prawns, egg and spring onion. Egg fried rice was fluffy and grease-free.

There were many more dishes but I won’t keep you all day.

A little too stuffed, we passed up the option of banana fritters and ice cream. 

However, my fortune cookie's prediction that I'd be moving onto bigger things seems rather prescient - today I'm struggling to do up my shorts.

Don’t get me wrong, Fortune House won’t serve you obscure Chinese delicacies in opulent surroundings. 

However, if you’re in the mood for old skool Chinese food, you want the experience of saying “I’ll have everything on the menu” and you fancy giving your elasticated pants a run-out, I’d heartily recommend Fortune House.

The Details:
Address - 43-45 Salisbury Road, Cathays, Cardiff,
Telephone - 029 2064 1311
Web -

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