Flavor Profile: Fortune Pavilion in Derby

Fortune Pavilion sits in the back of a parking lot off Route 34, abutting the enormous building that houses a Wal-Mart. Were it not for its bright red sign, you could miss it entirely. Chinese lions carved out of stone (with a moveable stone ball inside the mouth) greet you as you approach the front door. Inside, you're transported back to a time when getting Chinese food meant putting on pants and leaving the house.

Fortune Pavilion is very much old-school, Americanized sit-down Chinese. The waiters wear black vests and white shirts and the tables are covered by tablecloths and diners use cloth napkins. The table cloths serve a double purpose, both as a decoration and an even larger napkin for the table. "We are totally going to destroy this table cloth," said one of my dining companions who's been eating at Fortune Pavilion for years. And it was true, despite our best efforts to eat like civilized human beings, we ended up getting a fair bit of food on our tablecloth. The fact that we ordered an absurd amount of food might've played a role in our mess-making, however.

To start, the three of us ordered soup. I got the Szechuan hot and sour soup ($2.75), and my two companions split the house special wonton soup for two ($7.75), which was doled out into bowls tableside by our waiter before he placed the bowls and the small pot of soup on the table. It wasn't long before the two of them were bickering over splitting up the remainder of the soup. We also ordered a four-piece dim sum ($3.50) and PuPu platter for two ($12.95). The PuPu platter came with wings, spare ribs, beef on a stick and shrimp toast, arranged around a small hibachi grill. Our cocktails ($5.75) came in tiki glasses, and my Shirley Temple ($1.75) was refreshing and sweet.

We decided to eat our main courses family style, which might have contributed to the amount of food left on our tablecloth. We ordered orange beef ($14.25), which is marinated and then pan seared, with diced orange peels and garlic sauce; a triple crown ($14.25), shrimp, chicken and beef with sauteed vegetables and a house special sauce; roast pork fried rice ($6.95) and pan-seared noodles with beef ($9.95). It would have been difficult to fit all four dishes on our table if the pan-seared noodles hadn't been served in a bowl atop a pedestal. The orange beef had a slight crispiness on the outside that paired well with its tender interior. The pan-seared noodles and pork fried rice complemented the shrimp, chicken and beef in the triple crown. These dishes would have been delicious on their own, but combining them let their flavors play off one another, which made for a really tasty meal.

Fortune Pavilion

656 New Haven Ave., Derby, (203) 735-9371, fortunepavilion.com.



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