After reading Lauryn's review of Fortune Star in the "City Lite Buffet" thread ([BROKEN LINK REMOVED]), I decided to try it out.
Hubby took his shiny new WRX to Fitzgerald Subaru this morning to have Lojack installed (BTW, we highly recommend Fitzgerald for sales - no pressure, fab prices). After killing some time at White Flint Mall and discovering how pedestrian-unfriendly the mall area is, we arrived at Fortune Star around 11:15am; by 11:30 the place was really getting busy and there was a wait by the time we left at 12:15.
I'm almost embarassed to list how many different things I sampled, but what the heck, this *is* Chowhound:
Salt & pepper shrimp
Chicken with black pepper
Pork with green onions
Chicken feet with black bean sauce
Squid with black bean sauce
Fried pork dumpling (the only truly blah item)
Spareribs with black bean sauce
Nappa with dried shrimp
Custer green vegetable (I have no idea what this was -something with long leaves and thick stems - but it was tasty)
"Shark fin" dumplings with pork (looks like a shark fin, doesn't contain any)
Surimi (fake crab) wrapped in bacon
Fried wonton with chive
Steamed pork and shrimp dumpling
I also had something labeled "Shanghai dumpling". All you xiao long bao fans can stop salivating, this isn't a soup dumpling. It's made from the same slightly sweet dough as steamed pork buns, and is shaped like a hedgehog with black sesame seeds as eyes. Inside is a sweet bean paste. I liked it enough to grab a second one! (yes, of course I bit their heads off first)
The tripe had little flavor and a chewy texture. I think it was just steamed. Or maybe I just don't like tripe. My favorites were the nappa (braised, messy, tender, yum), pork with green onions (I like my pork a little fatty and chewy, others might dislike this dish), the Szechuan tofu (not all that spicy, though), and the radish cake (mislabeled as taro cake, and the taro was labeled radish, oops). I've had much better shu mai, but it was still respectable. The chicken feet were big and tasty. There were too many dishes with black bean sauce, though. I would have liked some spicy options, and was disappointed at the lack of duck or har gow. Vegetarians might have problems, since some of the vegetable dishes have meat in them, as did the Szechuan tofu.
My unadventurous husband only sampled the beef with broccoli, stir-fried string beans, and chicken with black pepper. He claims his white rice counts as a fourth dish sampled. :)
I did not try the sushi or soups and was too full to try the soybean milk, let alone the dessert table. There were also some "American" items like french fries (and did I see macaroni & cheese, or was I hallucinating?).
The restaurant gets a large lunch business, so turnover on the steam tables was rapid. Nothing looked soggy or worn out (except maybe the fries).
We'll be back. I want more hedgehogs!
Fortune Star Buffet
5541 Nicholson Lane, Rockville (a few yards east of Rockville Pike, behind Eatzi's)
Lunch buffet $7.25, 11am-3:30pm Mon-Fri
Dim sum buffet $12.95, 11am-3:30pm Sat-Sun and holidays
Dinner buffet $12.95, 4:30pm-10pm daily