Sichuan fortune house lunch special
This is my first chow report on a meal, so please bear with me!
There have been several posts about Sichuan Fortune House in Pleasant Hill here, but I have not seen any mention of their lunch specials, so I thought I would post about my meal. I went last week (Monday maybe??, been a busy week) during lunch with my 3 year old daughter. I have been several times at dinner, and LOVE this place but never at lunch.
Immediately I was drawn to the prices. The regular dishes were $6.45 (might have been a few more expensive, but the majority were that price) which included soup, salad and an egg roll. You also got your pick of rice, fried rice or noodles with the entree. The specialties came with just soup for $6.50 or you could pick three specialities for $19.50. Quite the deal, and they still served the little plate with spicy pickled vegetable and candied peanuts. Since I was with my daughter I decided to stick with a regular entree, despite the fact that she eats a large variety of food, there is nothing like a bowl of noodles to keep her occupied. I settled on the green beans with beef, not expecting much since it was not one of the Sichuan dishes.
First the soup came out, an egg drop soup but with a twist of having corn in it. I could be wrong about this, but I can't recall seeing dishes with corn in it in any Chinese place I have been to. It was delicious. The soup tasted more like corn chowder then egg drop soup, but nothing like regular corn chowder. It was much lighter while still being creamy. The addition of tofu with the eggs and corn was good enough for me to finish the whole bowl. And I never finish a whole bowl of soup.
Next came the egg roll and salad. The egg roll was not good, but I was not expecting it to be good, so it was not a disappointment. The salad was decent, lettuce tomatoes and cucumber with some kind of brown dressing. Sorry I have no clue what kind of dressing it was.
By now I was getting full, but as soon as I saw the green beans with beef I knew I was in for a treat. Like I said I was not expecting a dish as great as the Sichuan specialties I had tried in the past there, but boy was I wrong. The first thing that drew my eye was the beef. I have become accustomed to beef in Chinese restaurants being cut unevenly and very thick making the beef chewy. This beef was cut so perfectly and thin that it melted in your mouth. The green beans were cooked perfectly too. The sauce on it was amazing. I could see a few fermented black beans, but it did not taste like a black bean sauce. There was tons of fresh ginger and garlic, which might have been what made the sauce so tasty. Whatever it was it was enlightening. It has been so long since I have had such an ordinary dish that can be found on so many restaurants menu be so mind blowingly good.
Sadly I fear as others have said that they may not be in business long. When I left at 12:30 there were only 3 other tables filled. Hardly the lunch rush I would have expected. I think some people may be scared of the Sichuan food, so I hope this lets people know that they don't need to order Sichuan to have a great meal. Although I would still recommend trying some new dishes there once in a while because the Sichuan food is hard to come by on this side of the tunnel. You may be surprised how much you enjoy it.
Lastly let me say they are always so nice not just to me but my daughter too. Everyone I have encountered is nice and helpful. It just make a great place that much better.
Sichuan Fortune House
41 Woodsworth Ln, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Wanted to update that the lunch menu has changed significantly since my post. They have cut down dramatically on the number of items offered and raised the prices. Now all meals are between $7.50 and $9 and no longer include the salad or egg roll, but it does come with steamed broccoli. You also now get to choose between the hot and sour soup and the corn soup I mentioned in my original post. This makes me very happy since I don't think I was ever offered the corn soup after that first lunch visit and it really is amazingingly light and refreshing (and delicious!)
Overall though I'm not crazy about the new lunch menu, but I can live with it. None of my regular items are on there although they still always make them for me. While the portions appear a little larger it is a bit of a stretch for me to now share one meal with my daughter without the salad and egg roll, but they were not amazing anyways. I also really, really wish they offered the lunch menu on the weekends. Until hubby gets a job the rare times we eat out tend to be on the weekends and we are just too broke right now for weekly $40 lunches.
Amazingly they remember me every time and my daughter's favorite dish. It has gotten much busier now which can affect the speediness of service but they are nice enough to make up for it.
Overall this is the best chinese restaurant IMO this side of the tunnel and some of the best chinese I've had in general. Need to get there one day with a big group so I can try more dishes, I always stick with my regulars since they are so yummy!
Like I said I have not tried a lot off the menu since I'm usually with daughter and always get the same thing. Their chicken with soy bean sauce is my current favorite and what we always order. Originally it was a dish not on the menu suggested by the manager when I requested a non spicy chicken dish for her, it has now become a family favorite, really amazing. It might be on the regular menu now. The green beans with beef while not Sichuan highlights to me what makes this place special. What should be an ordinary dish is transformed with apparently very few but very high quality and fresh ingredients.
I've also had the chicken and the seafood/tofu claypots which were great. The seafood pot though may permanently block hubby from ever trying any new dishes there, should have found a better transition dish!
I'll try to give that ChungQuing diced chicken dish a try, sounds yummy!
I don't know exactly how people organize the chow dinners I always read about but if anyone is ever interested, it might be my only option to explore the menu!
Thanks for this, I'd wondered how their lunch specials were.
And I've been having the same worried thoughts about the future of the restaurant, as every time I've eaten here only a few tables have been occupied. Definitely the best Chinese food in Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill/Concord and so I really hope business picks up.
My favorites are the dan dan noodles, tea smoked duck, and cumin lamb.
One of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the northern East Bay. I don't understand why the restaurant isn't doing better (although, I went on a Friday night last month and it was about 85% capacity). The food at Sichuan Fortune House is very good. The menu is diverse, with several dishes that I just don't find at most other Chinese restaurants.
I'll have to step up my efforts and go monthly instead of bi-monthly.
I'll give the lunch special a try if they serve it on the weekend.
Thanks for the post. I, too, worry about SFH's longevity. We were there at 7:30 last night (Saturday), and there were only 2 tables occupied in the place, including ours! It's such a shame that it isn't busier, because the food is amazing and the service is outstanding. We shared wonton soup -- we keep ordering it because it's best I've had anywhere, period, with an intensely flavored broth, fresh veggies & delicious pork dumplings -- and an order of Hunan Smoked Pork with green beans. The pork tasted like uncured poached and then stir-fried bacon with chiles, and the green beans were, like yours, cooked a perfect crisp-tender -- the dish was marvelous. I agree about the egg/spring rolls. We ordered them once, and found them flavorless. That's the only thing I've ever had there that I didn't like.
Our bill for a small order of the soup (which isn't small at all -- it provided 4 generous servings) and the pork and 2 orders of rice was $18. Given the quality and volume of food and the service, I wish for their sake that they would charge more. I also wish there was a way to convice more people to give this wonderful little place a try. Restaurants like this deserve to stay in business!