One of the pastimes that the penny-pinching retired seniors in my extended clan love is following the lucky red grand opening signs around the Citys Chinese neighborhoods for dining bargains. Soon after opening, Chinese restaurants will feature cut-rate prices and bigger portions to try to build-up a clientele. I tried this recently for a few visits to Lucky Fortune, which has now been open for two months, after spotting the red banner hanging across the storefront.
The white board near the entrance promotes whole roast squab for $5.99 (normally $10.50) to lure you inside. Its cut into quarters and served on the bone with a small dish of seasoned salt and a wedge of lemon. The one I tried seemed a little bit smaller than normal. While the skin was glassy, evenly browned and crisp, the dark flesh was overdone and on the dry side. But at this price, I might be tempted to order another one.
In the cheap and plenty category are the lunch specials for $4.25 offered from 11-3. These arent mere rice plates, but entrée-size dishes of assorted stir-fries and more of seafood, meats and/or veggies that are normally $5.95 on the ala carte menu. These come with not a small rice bowl-sized but a full-blown soup noodle-sized bowl of the soup of the day and a pot of steamed rice. The soup of the day I tried was pork and peanut that was richly flavored if a bit too fatty. The rock cod filet with tender greens had whole stalks of steamed gai lan as a bed, topped with thick and moist pieces of very fresh sauteed rock cod in a garlic-ginger sauce. The sauce was somewhat over thickened but I liked the bits of sweet fresh garlic, colorful zig-zag cut carrots and grass mushrooms in the sauce. Not fancy, but a real deal for the price and enough left over to take home.
At lunch time, dim sum can be ordered off a menu to arrive fresh and hot from the kitchen. The small plates are $1.80 and the larger ones, $4. On two different days, the deep-fried items, taro root dumpling or fried bean curd roll with shrimp, were not sufficiently drained leaving them sitting in a pool of oil. This is a shame as both were expertly seasoned and delicious but for this excess of grease. The crackly bean curd roll was especially tasty with juicy pieces of shrimp and peppery Chinese chives --- too bad it left an oil slick in the mouth. Of the steamed items, so far the fresh shrimp fun gor is the star. Not usually a fan of this type of dumpling, the wrapper on this one was see-through and had a wonderful elasticity enveloping a whole prawn accented with minced bamboo shoots and white pepper. Really good! Oddly, the tender wrappers on the har gow were thicker and Id opt for the fun gor instead. The fresh scallop dumpling turned out to be filled with half scallop and half shrimp and didnt do much for me. I also tried the big sharks fin dumpling in a dish of broth, the kind that has jellied soup inside ($4). It was competent better than Parc Hong Kongs but cant match the clear broth at Seafood Harbor.
And, finally, since this is a seafood restaurant, I had to try one of the seafood specials and picked Queens Clam for $5, thats posted on the wall right next to the cash register. I had no idea what this might be and learned from my server that its a single big steamed clam with a choice of sauces. He recommended the garlic and scallion prep which turned out to be spot-on. This seemed to be a Pismo-type clam, served in its own 5 diameter half-shell. The meat of the clam had been expertly sliced according to the unique grains of the stomach, scallop muscle and fringes to get the best texture and cooking surface for each. Lightly steamed in its own juices with some roasted garlic and light soy flavors, the slices from each section of the succulent clam presented its own crisp, buttery or chewy texture and delicately subtle taste. The pile of clam slivers was sprinkled with crunchy deep-fried garlic bits and chopped scallions for a flavor accent. The light juices were delicious with plain rice. Very nice I cant think of a finer flavor and textural sensation for 5 bucks. If you try this, be sure to order one for each person at the table or risk not having enough for yourself.
The modest surroundings are new and shiny clean now. The servers seem very eager to please. How long these grand opening specials will last is unknown, so dont delay.
To sum up, the highlights are the Queens clam and fresh shrimp fun gor. For a bargain meal, try a lunch special and a plate or two of dim sum, and enjoy the leftovers at home.
Lucky Fortune Seafood Restaurant
5715 Geary Blvd. (between 21st and 22nd Ave.)
Open seven days a week, 10am to midnight