Fortune Wok 

5163 N. Glenwood, Garden City, 208-378-4645. Tues.-Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

When making dining choices, I usually opt for everyday American fare. Coffee for breakfast, cheeseburgers for dinner and cigarettes in between for an all-encompassing fitness and nutrition regimen. So, I was anticipating the change in my regular diet with a visit to Fortune Wok on Glenwood just off of Chinden Boulevard, excited at the possibility of enjoying a new dining experience and yet apprehensive because in my experience, Chinese food can be fantastic, downright scary or very mediocre. Luckily, in the case of Fortune Wok, the food was fantastic.

Upon approaching the establishment, there is nothing interesting to speak of. It's your standard strip-mall format. The perfect setting for, say, a check-cashing business. Fortune Wok is no more than two doors away from another Chinese restaurant that probably occupies three or four times the space of the Fortune Wok and projects an ominous and foreboding presence as it casts a long shadow over its smaller neighbor. Worries aside, I walked into what easily could have been a specialty vitamin store. It is a perfectly square room, the walls lined with booths and the remaining space filled with tables and plants.

My dining companion and I sat down and within seconds, a very nice waitress was taking our drink order. As I always do, I ordered a root beer and settled in with a menu. It seems pretty standard for a Chinese restaurant: chow mein, sweet 'n' sour chicken and pork, moo goo gai pan, and as is also pretty standard for a Chinese restaurant, an assortment of combination plates. I was interested in the Szechwan spicy fish and the sweet 'n' sour fish, but I decided to err on the side of familiarity and went with a combination dinner: pork-fried rice, pork chow mein, sweet 'n' sour chicken and an egg roll ($7.95). It also comes with a choice of egg flower or hot and sour soup. I chose the hot and sour, and my companion decided the egg flower soup would better complement his kung pao chicken lunch plate ($5.50). Within seconds, we had our soup, but we were both a little unsure of what exactly we were eating. It tasted good, but there seemed to be some unidentifiable ingredients, notably, what looked like tiny pieces of paper floating in the broth. We asked the waitress what the floating things were, and she informed us that it was pieces of egg cooked in traditional Chinese fashion, nothing to worry about.

We had barely finished our soup when our waitress descended upon us with two huge, steaming plates of food. She set them in front of us with a fury of conviction, knowing full well that we were about to go on a culinary journey of epic and legendary proportions. Epic, indeed. It was way more food than either of us could eat. But it was so delicious that while we could never have eaten it all, we sure tried our damnedest. It appeared that our destiny was to leave the Fortune Wok with to-go boxes.

I truly enjoyed all of my food—especially the vegetarian egg roll—but the highest honors go to the sweet 'n' sour chicken. It was sweet, it was sour, I ate it all and wanted more. Simply put, the Fortune Wok is great. The two of us left that day extremely full, with money still left in our pockets. Generous tip included, we dropped less than $25 for great food and great service in a clean (albeit lackluster) environment. Follow your stomach, follow your budget, follow your heart, follow your destiny to the Fortune Wok.

—Tom Kershaw doesn't know soup from shinola.

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