Eater NY Asks – Who Goes to Fortune House

Lost City’s Brooks of Sheffield writes about Fortune House [82 Henry Street] and “who goes there” today at Eater NY:

EaterNY:  Though all the patrons seem to be from the extreme immediate area, there are two customer worlds at Fortune House. The old people tend to take a table. Elderly couples who linger over a glass of red wine at the end of their meal like they’re at Le Bernardin. Mothers being taken out to dinner by their middle-aged sons and daughters. Old friends hashing over their ailments. Solitary, white-haired gentlemen who nurse multiple Martinis. Meanwhile, the young worker bees—running-panted, ear-budded, iPhoned—come in for take-out, waiting for their order on the long cushioned bench by the cloudy fish tank. An exception to this rule was a single hipster couple—thin, bearded, confidently cool guy, and his less certain girlfriend, in black bangs, babydoll dress and many bracelets—who dined in. They alone weren’t having dinner in a Chinese restaurant. They were “having dinner in a Chinese restaurant.”

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  • nabeguy

    Go back to Sheffield, Brooks. You seem to be lost in this part of the city.

  • Jazz

    I think Nabeguy has been spending time at the Fortune Opium Den.

    Mr. Of Sheffield, please take no offense.

  • AEB

    Well, I’m at FH at least once a week–for takeout–and I’ve only seen the place busy with seated diners on one occasion. Usually, it’s two-thirds empty.

    The reviewer hit the nail on the head, in my opinion: cheap and, if one orders carefully, decent–an adequate version of Chinese-American cooking.

    Could the owner be more bored? She will acknowledge you if you greet her first, but otherwise, expect to be “looked over.”

    Sharon, however, the main counter-person, is friendly and a marvel at taking orders from both customers calling in and on hand, adding tabs, making change, and so on.

    Grade: C+/B-

  • Paz

    Nah, that guy screwed up. The person thinking hardest about irony in that restaurant is the reviewer, and he didn’t get far.

    I understand what Fortune House is all about – I love it, and when that’s what I’m in the mood for, I stop by. I wish them continued success and look forward to my next visit.

    Yours Truly,

    A young dude that enjoys absolutely enjoys Fortune House, and will debate you on sincerity and irony in the ’09 anytime.

  • No One of Consequence

    Great Wall

  • sue

    He usually writes about restaurant relics such as Fedora in the West Village — Fortune House seems a little off-“brand” for him. That being said, the descriptions fits — and the answer to “who goes there?” seems to be “A wide swath of people.” — I have loved Fortune House ever since the early 80’s, when they would sell me containers of dumpling sauce for a quarter, for my own homemade knockoffs.

  • tb

    I was hoping we would talk about Fortune House.

  • celery

    I’m with the guy above: Great Wall. The Jewel of the North Heights Chinatown.

  • nabeguy

    I guess I prefer my restaurant reviews not to be served with a bowl of snark-fin soup.

  • Billy Reno

    I love Fortune House, but last time I was there my Coke had notes of pee pee in it.

  • heightsdiho

    Does anyone know what happened to the the big white fish formerly of the fish tank?

  • Andrew Porter

    When Norman Mailer lived on Columbia Heights this was his favorite Chinese place.

    The fish in the store window are periodically replaced; I think their life spans are not very long. For several months there was a really large fish in the tank that swam slowly back and forth and would occasionally eat one of the small fish cowering in the corners. Evidently this was an invasive species from China, brought in illegally. It’s been removed, I’m happy to say. I think it was eyeing the diners with a carnivorous bent….

  • BHgirl

    One day when picking up my take-out, the tank was empty of any fish. I asked a woman who works there and she told me that when the fish get too big for that tank, they give the fish to some man who lives in BH and has a pond in his backyard that can house the bigger fish.

  • Hicks St guy

    Fortune House is terrific for what it sells, basic, cantonese food with occasional spicy regional dishes. the drinks are cheap, the food prices are extremely reasonable, and the new updating of the interior was very needed. The waitresses and mgmt. are dolls: BH is very lucky to have
    this place.

  • RS75Henry

    Fortune House is the best Chinese restaurant in the Brooklyn Heights area. They did a great redecoration. The food is good to excellent, and if you ask the owner/manager for a recommendation, although she is shy, she will be honest and tell you. It’s a nice evening out, the service is great, and they will not rush you like other Chinese restaurants-just let them know. Their dinner take -out is very popular and that is great as well- If you haven’t tried it-go!