Every time I eat it, I fall in love again. That something as simple as rice, meat and a few vegetables could make me so happy says more about me than it probably should. The object of my affection? Special Fried Rice from Fortuna Chinese Restaurant in Scarborough.
According to its website, Fortuna Chinese Restaurant has been around for almost 30 years, which means that I have been eating there for almost 30 years. What I love the most is that very little has changed. The front façade with its curved red roof and bright green pillars, the wall of mirrors, the flocked wallpaper, the enormous dragons with coloured light-bulbs for eyes, and the strangely hypnotic, ever moving picture on the wall behind the counter. In 30 years, the décor has not changed, but that's not to say it's dated. I love that it has resisted the urge to strip off the wall paper and replace it with modern, humourless paint or cheap prints with large Chinese characters.
Dragons to excite the kids, furry walls for the rest of us
What I love most is that the menu has not changed, and the Special Fried Rice that I ate as a child is the same recipe that my daughters are now eating. Perfectly cooked, not at all gluggy, with large generous pieces of bbq pork and chicken, chunks of omelette, prawns, and bean sprouts. It's heaven in a dish ($11) and the primary reason we have already celebrated two birthdays there this year, and it's only August.
The rest of the menu is extensive and delicious. Other favourites include Mongolian Lamb (crispy and sweet and spicy), Birds Nest (a mix of seafood and vegetables in a deep fried wonton 'nest') and the ubiquitous Sweet and Sour Pork. There may be nothing too ground-breaking or challenging, but they're still yummy and generous and that's really all you can ask for. The staff are friendly and not too concerned at the sheer quantity of food we always manage to spill. If you bring a birthday cake, they are only too happy to provide plates and forks and a candle (if no one remembered that important detail). I received a rather flash pair of Fortuna chopsticks on my last visit, although I am not sure if that was because we spent over $100 or because it was my birthday (or perhaps they realised we have been eating there for three decades).
There is a private room that allows groups of up to 16 to dine in peace and by opening at the extremely kid-friendly time of 4.30pm on weekends, you can be fed and in bed before you can say 'fried icecream'.