Fortune House, the beloved Irving restaurant with Shanghainese specialties, including some of Texas’ best soup dumplings, has opened a second location on Lowest Greenville.
The new Greenville location, next to HG Sply Co., is technically still in its soft opening phase, but it’s already bustling with customers and accepting reservations online. “Soft opening” often denotes a limited menu or a dress rehearsal for full service. In Fortune House’s case, though, it means that not all of the tables and furniture have arrived, so the restaurant still looks a little bit unfinished. Everything else is ready to go.
“We were talking for a long time about, do we open according to our renderings [when the design is complete] or do we open now to retain the staff that we have?” says general manager Karen Rubia. “I’m very happy that we decided to open, our staff is happy, and the neighborhood is.”
Fortune House takes the space formerly occupied by Gung Ho, an American-owned Chinese restaurant that served a mix of Americanized and traditional fare. Gung Ho drew generally positive reviews but closed early in the coronavirus pandemic.
Fortune House is bringing all of its signature dishes in from Irving: soup dumplings (filled with meat and piping-hot broth), pan-fried pork buns (steamed and then fried on just one side), spicy wontons, and the dish that has long been its most underrated star: “spinach in supreme broth,” made with an ultra-rich sauce strengthened by egg yolks.
“We’re trying to keep the same menu as Irving,” says John Kim, one of the restaurant’s owners. “We don’t want to change things. We want to do the dishes justice here.” There are just two Greenville-exclusive menu items right now: a soup dumpling with black truffle, and a dumpling sampler that allows the table to try a little bit of everything.
Rubia says she met a customer who saw the stylish, brightly colorful new interior design—which still includes a window to watch kitchen staff making dumplings—and asked if it was the same Fortune House. Then, she says, the customer’s food arrived and they said that, yes, it still was the same.
Fortune House blends Shanghainese specialties with Americanized Chinese food in a sort of choose-your-own-adventure format. You can opt for beef with broccoli and orange chicken, or you can go for tea-smoked duck and sweet-and-sour jellyfish. Kim and Rubia report that in the soft opening stage, many Greenville diners have been seeking out more adventurous dishes, including the Husband and Wife Special (beef shank, tripe, and peanuts in a spicy chili sauce) and the marinated chicken feet.
Fortune House has been a fixture of the Dallas-area Chinese food scene since it opened in 2015. The Kim family purchased the restaurant in 2017, retaining the original recipes and style. They specialize in preserving the legacy of Dallas classics, having recently relaunched a beloved Korean institution as Koryo Korean BBQ. They began to scout locations for a second Fortune House location simply because the original is so popular.
“Irving is such a landmark,” Rubia says, referring to the original location. “People know Fortune House. One of the things we hear from our guests is, ’I have to drive for an hour to get here in traffic!’” Then she recounted a recent story about a couple who arrived at the new Greenville location, only to learn that they had mistakenly booked a reservation for the Irving original. They dutifully drove to Irving—where a power outage had shut the kitchen down. Unwilling to compromise on their dumpling craving, they drove straight back. Rubia calls the incident a wake-up call about the devotion of Fortune House’s regulars.
Within the next four to six weeks, the seating arrangements will be completed by a wall of custom-made booths designed by Coeval Studio, the same interior studio that created the spaces at Krio, Xaman Cafe, Harper’s, Sloane’s Corner, Stirr, and Jalisco Norte. When booths are installed, the restaurant will have three distinctive spaces: a long bar with a view into the kitchen, the main dining room, and the front patio. The last touch will be an oval-shaped private dining room in the back.
Then Fortune House’s “soft opening” will be a “grand” one. But you don’t need to wait to get your dumpling fix.
Fortune House, 2010 Greenville Ave.