Wheel of fortune

This is Fortune Star's "happy family," a mix of shrimp, scallop, chicken, beef, squid and veggies.

This is Fortune Star's "happy family," a mix of shrimp, scallop, chicken, beef, squid and veggies.

Photo/Allison Young

Fortune Star Cuisine is open Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Depending on your point of view, Fortune Star Cuisine is either a Chinese restaurant that serves sushi or a sushi bar with a large menu of Chinese dishes. The decor is upscale, and the seating options can accommodate everything from a large family to an intimate date night for two, but the lunch menu is one of the best deals in town.

The lunch special includes a choice of soup or salad, one egg roll and crab Rangoon, a choice of chow mein or rice, and one of 29 entrees ($6.95-$7.95 served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). I was surprised to see how much food you get for seven bucks. The bowl of egg flower soup alone was almost a meal by itself. Cups of miso and hot and sour soup were also ordered, with the latter a standout ($1.95). It had a good balance of spice and tartness, a silky mouth feel, and plenty of veggies.

An appetizer sampler included egg roll, crab rangoon, deep-fried chicken skewer, and tempura shrimp ($4.95). The egg roll had a noticeable whiff of Chinese five spice—which I enjoy—and the rest of the items were just fine, if unremarkable. We tried to order a dim sum combo deluxe but instead received the smaller dim sum combo ($10.95). Or part of it, anyway. The menu indicates four shrimp dumplings, four seafood siu mai, two barbecue pork buns, and a pair of potstickers. We received just two of everything and I didn’t think to double-check the menu until later. I’m not sure if we were shorted or the menu is out of date, but the steamer basket looked a little light for the price.

Orders of general’s chicken ($9.95), triple mushroom beef ($12.95), and happy family ($13.95) were all quite good, with the chicken being among the better renditions of this classic dish. The “family” was a mix of shrimp, scallop, chicken, beef, squid and veggies that was cooked just right and tasted very fresh. Similarly, the straw, black and white mushrooms were expertly cooked, and the beef was tender with good flavor. The pork fried rice wasn’t overcooked and we generally enjoyed all the Chinese food sampled.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the sushi side of things ($15 All You Can Eat lunch). Perhaps the guy behind the counter was having an off day, or maybe they don’t fill enough sushi orders to keep things up to par. By my estimation there were only a couple other patrons ordering from the bar, yet I had to repeat my initial order of nigiri twice, received part of it, then inexplicably received a double order of something I’d already been served. An order of baked mussels never arrived. From what I could tell, the order was never put in.

The couple of long rolls I sampled were heavy on rice with pieces larger than some folks could eat in a single bite. A single hand roll was more deftly assembled but included raw scallops that smelled “fishy,” a sign that either the fish is old or hasn’t been properly refrigerated. I’m thinking it was more likely the former because the freshwater eel, snapper, yellowtail, fresh salmon and smoked salmon were all pretty good, featuring generous slices of fish with just enough rice. Yet, everything was served at room temperature, the octopus was quite tough, and the black pepper-seared tuna was very dry and strangely chewy. I consumed what I received and said a silent prayer to the gods of indigestion.

Thankfully, I can report feeling just fine the following day. My fortune cookie opined, “Land is always in the mind of the flying birds.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’d land again at Fortune Star for the excellent soups and entrees, perhaps leaving the sushi for braver souls than I.