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Fortune Star Buffet in Rockville, MD -- What Happened?

I am very glad I called Fortune Star and spoke to the manager. He thanked me for telling him of our poor experience in May and told me that the old chef had returned, so we decided to have dinner there last night. I'm happy to report that we had a wonderful dinner: everything was as delicious as ever, and the place was filled with the regular customers again. How wonderful to know that my family's favorite restaraunt is back!

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Fortune Star
7361 Assateague Dr Ste 1000, Jessup, MD 20794

Fortune Star Buffet in Rockville, MD -- What Happened?

OMG, I can't even THINK of Tyson's Buffet in the same breath. I went twice, and I can't believe it wasn't just once, but my friend, who admittedly has no taste buds, wanted to go. The Chinese dishes were not well-seasoned and were not authentic.There were a lot of fillers like garlic bread, lasagna, plain old pickles. The dim sum specialties were exceedingly greasy. I just can't believe Tyson's would be real competition for the Fortune Star I knew, but Tyson"s was cheaper and maybe people who couldn't taste the difference went with their pocketbook. However, I must note that I was going to Fortune Star for as long as three years after Tyson's opened, and Fortune Star was always full -- before the recent change in chef, that is.

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Fortune Star
7361 Assateague Dr Ste 1000, Jessup, MD 20794

Fortune Star Buffet in Rockville, MD -- What Happened?

We'd been going for years to this, our favorite, Chinese buffet. The Chinese food was delicious and authentic, the sushi good, and the selection wonderfully varied, with many different cuisines represented.

But my birthday dinner at the end of May this year was a disaster. Something was seriously wrong. The six soups on the buffet were at a rolling boil, boiled down to the bottom, and congealed. The Chinese dishes were poorly seasoned and flavorless. Meats that should have been tender and falling off the bone were undercooked and tough. Foods that should gave been hot were cold. I should have known when we first pulled into the parking lot: the lot was almost empty. The place was deserted by the many Chinese regulars who frequent this place.

I asked the waitress, "When did you have a change of chef?" She said it was last week! No wonder everything was wrong.

Does anyone know what happened? Has anyone eaten there recently so that they could report on the current situation with the food? I'm hesitant to return and be disappointed. Thanks.

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Fortune Star
7361 Assateague Dr Ste 1000, Jessup, MD 20794

Food Scars - Things you will never eat again.

Sadly, I can never eat bouillabaise again. It was one of my favorite foods, something I would always order whenever I saw it on a menu. But I have not eaten it since my horrible birthday dinner in 1996. I had been married less than a year and was pregnant for the first time. DH's parents, who had boycotted our wedding, acted as if they wished to mend fences and insisted on taking me out for my birthday. I was suspicious., but DH thought they were sincere. It turned out, they were not. The whole meal was the in-laws' being passive-aggressive as hell. What's worse: my FIL ordered bouillabaise, too. Since then I haven't been able to stand the thought of bouillabaise. Last year my 13-year-old son asked me to cook bouillabaise because, after hearing the story of the birthday dinner from hell, he wants to try bouillabaise; it's been months, and I still can't bring myself to buy the ingredients.

Aug 17, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Quick Cilantro Tasting Question - what percentage taste soap?

Yes, it tastes of soap to me.

Mar 18, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Please help me pronounce "Viennoiserie"

That "e" is indeed pronounced, just as in tadao's link. It's only when you say the word fast that the sound of the "e" disappears.

Feb 26, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

It's hard to say whether a divorced person has adult social obligations under traditional Chinese etiquette, for there was no divorce traditionally. But I was a divorced woman for about four years, and I think I was considered outside the social pale --LOL! I certainly would not have been expected to give dinner parties for married friends. I think only couples give dinner parties.

Since the question of dinner parties is mooted for you by current, economic reality, I would do just as you have suggested: offer small (meaningful rather than costly) gifts from time to time in gratitude for their parties. Or offer to bring a dish to their parties. Or even suggesting that one of their parties be a potluck so that all can contribute. I think if you are not employed right now, your friends will surely understand.

Feb 15, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

Greenie, xie xie ni for your kind words to me and for sharing your happy new year's eve with me! Your beautiful spirit as a guest who was eager to do the right thing at a Chinese party made it my pleasure to help with any questions you had. And reading your report of the party last night really made my day! I'm so happy everyone at the party had a joyful time. Sounds like you have made some great friends.

As a single (unmarried) person, you would not be expected by your Chinese hosts to reciprocate with a dinner party in kind, even if you are the same generation as your hosts. In traditional Chinese etiquette, never-married persons are considered youngsters and are not expected to host parties for the marrieds. Strange but true!

I grew up in the US and always thought it was strange that never-married men of age 45 were called "boys"in Chinese and never-married girls were called "girls." But mom explained to me that a person is not considered an adult until married.

Indeed, I have a first cousin once removed (called a nephew in Chinese because he is one generation below me) who is only nine years younger than I, yet for years and years while he was single, he was always my guest and never treated me back, even to a restaurant dinner. Then, lo and behlold, he married and started inviting me to his house for dinner, like a real adult -- LOL.

What does a "youngster" like you do to reciprocate your hosts' hospitality? You're simply not expected to. You can give nice hostess gifts or other little gifts on appropriate occasions. You might think to try to invite them to an inexpensive, casual restaurant lunch or dinner and try to pay, but don't be surprised if they grab the check and pay, as would be expected of them as marrieds under Chinese etiquette, and then you would probably feel bad for having invited them to a meal they had to pay for. No, I think I would just reciprocate with kindnesses, favors, and other acts of friendship. I think you sound like a wondefrul friend.

Feb 14, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

Wow, that sounds like a fabuloius party! Thank you so much for taking us 'hounds there with you through your post. Reading it brought a smile to my face the whole time, and I absolutely cracked up laughing when you said "no one got beaned"!

You were the perfectly gracious and charming guest. What a wonderful, warm gathering of friends. The perfect start to the new year!

Feb 13, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

Would you really have added butter? Maybe here's a good place to mention the general rule that no soy sauce or other sauce or condiment should be added to your rice or to any dish that is cooked in a sauce. The idea is that the cook has reasoned the dish properly.

Soy sauce and other sauces are appropriate for dipping or spooning onto foods not already in a sauce, such as dumplings, and even pepper shrimp.

Salt and pepper are not usually provided at the table, and they are never requested. Again, the idea is that the cook has seasoned the dish properly.

Hope this helps.

Feb 13, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

I'm so glad that you've decided what to bring and are looking forward to the party, and that you've not let some parts of this thread get you down. It is indeed an honor to be invited to their house for the new year celebration, and you will surely return the honor. Just enjoy!

Feb 10, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

No, I don't think the OP's Chinese hosts, if they are as traditionally Chinese as she has described, would describe to her what gifts would be appropriate, That would be tantamount to asking for a gift. Chinese manners would be to say no, don't bring anything.

Feb 10, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

guests not offering to do dishes, is it rude?

About offering to do dishes, I think different rules apply to at least three categories of gatherings: (1) gatherings of family members, (2) gatherings of prospective in-laws with one's family, and (3) meals for houseguests staying overnight or longer.

The OP seems to say that she expects an offer to do dishes even by guests not well known to her at a simple dinner party, that it's even rude of them not to offer. This idea is completely foreign to me. In my parents' house when I was growing up and now in my house, non-family guests at a simple dinner party are not expected to work, or even to offer to work.

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

I'd probably take my cue from whether there are any shoes by their door when you enter. My parents who, as I said, do not have guests take off their shoes when they host, do take off their shoes or offer to at other Chinese friends' houses, just to be polite. Maybe your landlord and her husband take off their shoes at your house to be polite but keep their shoes on at home. It's possible.

Feb 10, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

True, it's not a Chinese custom to sit on the floor or on floor cushions when eating (or at any time, actually). Maybe the OP is thinking of the Japanese custom of sitting on tatami mats?

The Chinese peoples (comprising five main ethnicities and other ones as well) are so ethnically, geographically, and culturally diverse that it's hard to generalize about "Chinese customs."

The OP referred in an earlier post about knowing to take off her shoes at her hostess's house this coming weekend, and I let that pass without comment because maybe her hostess has made reference to taking off shoes in her house. However, while we are on the subject of Chinese customs, I'd like to point out that it is not a traditiional Chinese practice to take off shoes before entering a house. The Han Chinese (a major ethnic group) traditionally wore shoes in the house. The Chinese in Taiwan have, since the Japanese colonialization of Taiwan in the late 1800s, absorbed some Japanese customs and they tend to take off their shoes. But my parents, who are ethnic Han and were born and raised in Taiwan but live in the US now, choose not to have people remove their shoes in the house.

I find I just never can assume anything about what customs a Chinese or Chinese-American friend follows.

Feb 09, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

servers and children

True.

Feb 09, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

servers and children

I think you as the parent should decide what drink is appropriate for YOUR two-year-old. Parents do differ on that issue. Please don't expect the server to preempt the struggle you have with your child over sugary drinks. You have to teach your child your rules about sugary drinks, not expect the server to enforce your rules by making sugary drinks unavailable to your child.

Feb 09, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

People have made some good points about the offense that one may feel when another person focuses on one's "otherness" rather than our commonalities. As a Chinese-American I have experienced the annoyance when an acquaintance takes the few, little things he has heard about Chinese culture and expects me to behave a certain way.

Any guest in the home of a friend who is [ethnic]-American has to walk a fine line between the friend's otherness and the friend's sameness. Perhaps the most gracious guest is one who enters a house without assumptions and keeps an open mind. There are surely enough commonalities among all the cultures of the world as to what it takes to be a polite guest.

Feb 09, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

servers and children

I am a parent who takes her two children to restaurants because they are able to sit patiently through an entire meal without my having to speed up the server, are able to order off a regular menu, and know better than to fill themselves up with sugary drinks.

Ask not what servers can do "to make the visit of small children tolerable for everyone;" ask what YOU as the parent can do. Servers are just doing their jobs, and they should not have to do the job of parenting.

For the record, I have hired a babysitter only two times in the 13 years I have been a mother. My children were taught to sit at table, and they have, from an early age, been able to eat politely in a variety of restaurants without my making extra demands on servers and without inconveniencing other patrons. No, my children are not super-human; it's all in the training.

servers and children

The burden is on the parents, not the servers. I believe the burden is on the parents to take their children to only those restaurants whose atmosphere, serving speed, and menus will suit their children. If your children are too impatient to sit through the normal serving times of a restaurant, please do not take them to that restaurant. If you want your children to have healthy food and you consider the children's menu not healthy enough, order off the regular menu and split plates to make child-size portions. And please don't expect the server to take the trouble of getting prior approval from you before offering foods to your children; it's their job to offer food to restaurant guests, your children included. If none of this suits, just take the children to McDonald's or, better yet, train the children at the table at home until they can sit through a proper meal at a restaurant.

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

I think you'll be a lovely guest, your heartfelt efforts much appreciated. Enjoy the dinner party. I'd love to hear all about it! Happy new year!

Feb 07, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

Just Googled "audio Chinese phrases" and got websites that do a better job than I could and have audio, such as http://www.travelblog.org/World/chine....

Feb 07, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

On the other hand, being aware of the tradition of not cleaning up immediately, don't feel funny if your hostess does clean up immediately. My family was never very traditional or superstitious, and we broke all the rules! I would offer to help if it seemed appropriate (e.g., no housekeeper doing the job, an informal setting, etc.), but understand that offers usually are rejected the first time around. You have to repeat an offer to be sincere, yet you don't want to be pushy if the hostess really wants you to sit down and not help, so you walk a fine line, LOL. Chinese manners can be hard to navigate. Having grown up in the U.S., I never know whether my Chinese-American host is following American manners or Chinese manners -- "Does she really mean no, and should I keep pressing my offer?" <<Aaarrrgh!>>

Feb 07, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

I like your ideas for the bright mums and the oranges. May I suggest that you give the oranges just to your hostess and not to the other guests? If the other guests have not brought gifts to share with everyone, they might feel awkward if you pass around gifts.

Feb 07, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Left Lasagna Out All Night. Can I eat it?

"Time Temperature Abused"? LOL!

Feb 06, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Chinese New Year's Dinner Party Etiquette

I'm Chinese. The red flowers are not a bad idea if you have them in a vase so that the hostess does not have to go hunt for a vase before dinner, but I wouldn't do the red envelope unless you are at least a generation higher than the hostess. Red envelopes are traditionally given from seniors to junior, e.g. grandparents or parents to a child, or parents' friend to a child. Maybe you could just bring a box of chocolates?

Feb 06, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

guests not offering to do dishes, is it rude?

I would never expect dinner guests to offer to help with anything, much less wash dishes. They are guests, and I am the host. A guest's offer to wash dishes would not be rude, but a guest's insistence on doing so after I have declined would be rude. In fact, I never do the dishes while dinner guests are still at my house.

Really, I am astonished to know that there are hosts who expect me as a guest to offer to wash dishes.

Jan 26, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Multiple Rugelach questions

I store rugelach uncovered at room temperature, just as I store pie. Storing it covered would make it less crisp on the outside.

For freezing, I do cover it, of course. If you know you're going to freeze it, it's best to freeze as soon as the rugelach is cooled, so that the outside is still its crispiest.

Jan 22, 2010
browniebaker in Home Cooking

Is giving knives as a wedding gift bad luck?

Some people (or some cultures) are so superstitious about knives as wedding presents that taping a coin on the box would not make a difference. I am not superstitious about knives, but I won't give them as a wedding gift unless the couple have registered for knives. There are so many other gifts you can give, why risk offending where there's a doubt?

Jan 21, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food

Giving little kids expensive food -- am I off base?

Oh, I totally agree that it is not impolite for me to decline foods that would be "wasted" on me. The charms of wine are simply wasted on me, and I decline. If a host keeps pressing wine on me (and often they do, thinking that I am just being polite in refusing the first time -- this can be a cultural issue), I just tell him that I would leave it untouched in the glass and that it would be a terrible waste of a fine wine. The image of the wine sitting untouched, only to be poured down the drain later, usually stops the host from insisting on pouring me some.

Now, I know that in some cultures it's patently impolite to refuse any food offered. For this reason I once took some sweetened egg omelet at a dinner at a Japanese person's house, forcing it down. Ironically, while I was forcing down the food to be polite, my hostess was saying, "I'm surprised you took some of that. I thought you didn't like that." If it's Japanese manners to take a bit of everything offered (she had told me on an earlier occasion that it's good manners in Japan to take a little of everything offered), why would she comment on my doing so? First she serves a food that she knows, from an earlier conversation, that one of her guests can't stand (and that's all right), but then she has to point out my taking some of the food to be poilte? Weird.

Jan 18, 2010
browniebaker in Not About Food