Fortune Cookies – Hunan Heaven

Mao's PorkAs usual, my colleague Pat Tanner got it right when she raved about Fortune Cookies, the little Hunan restaurant in Bridgewater Township, in her New Jersey Monthly review.

Fortunately for me, Angela and Humphrey Chang were along for that, and since I also count them among my friends, they took me there recently to experience the place myself.

This was indeed, delicous, full-flavored Hunanese food as I’ve mostly only read about before, especially in Fuchsia Dunlop’s Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, Recipes from Hunan Province.

Pictured here is the indulgent Braised Pork, Mao’s Style. It’s made with pork belly, and was sublime – and very, very rich!  You may have heard it called red braised pork, or the Chairman’s pork.  (I’ve made “cheater” versions of this before, but now think I have to take on the real thing from her cookbook.)

We also had crunchy cool cucumber in scallion sauce (an appetizer, but we continued to nibble on it throughout the meal), a “scorched rice” dish with fish fillets on top of slightly crunchy squares of rice (we thought it would come on a sizzling platter, but it didn’t, something I would have known if I’d remembered Karla Cook’s review for the New York Times), chicken with wood ear mushrooms, and a casserole dish we had to try, because the name was so intriguing – Agrocybe Aegerita, Bamboo in Casserole – the Agrocybe Aegerata turned out to be a long skinny mushroom with a tiny cap. It was combined with bamboo and other vegetables in a rich brown sauce with the kick of a few red chilies.  Delicious!

I can’t wait to return to Fortune Cookies to try some other dishes, such as Hand Tear Style Chinese Cabbage, and Sauteed Pork in Farmers Style.  And there are plenty of more exotic dishes, like Sauteed Beef Stomach, Sour & Spicy Beef Throat, and Loofah & Fish Ball.

Oh yes, there is a regular Chinese-American menu available too, for the faint of heart.

Fortune Cookies is located at 41 Old York Rd., Bridgewater Township, NJ 08807, (908) 429-8886.  They are to the west of Rte. 206.  We got there by taking the Orlando Rd. jughandle off 206 North, crossing 206, and following Orlando Drive until it merged with Old York Road, then it was maybe a mile and half down on the left, past a old gas station.  Expect a wait at peak times; they only take reservations for large parties.

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