Review: Good Fortune

first impression: As soon as I walked in, I knew I had to stay no matter the wait (which can be long—so make a reservation or use the No Wait app). A quirky hall leads to a dining room in the back and an outdoor patio. The overall vibe is urban chic: casual and kind of funky. That, plus it serves some of the most innovative contemporary Asian dishes in town. The menu and place are tiny, but the flavors are big and exciting, incorporating things like black vinegar, sea nettles, seaweed powder and preserved lemon.

wash it down: The spirits menu leans toward fruity South Sea cocktails. The signature drink is the Jungle Bird, a potent mix of rum, Campari and pineapple juice. It doesn’t come with an umbrella, but a lemon twist and pineapple frond embellish it. Also big is the Negroni Crush, concocted with vermouth, gin and Campari, but with orange zest floating on top. There are tons of beers, many of them local, including two rotating on tap.

must try
» shu mai dumplings: $10; Plump, dough-encased blossoms flavored with soy, black vinegar and the taste of great ground pork. The blend of tangy, salty and sweet is done very well here, with pasta pockets that are hearty but not too doughy.
» mushrooms: $12; Not the typical Chinese dish, it illustrates what chef Ryan McDonald means when he calls the menu contemporary American Chinese. Three meaty Hen of the Woods mushroom clusters reward the palate with a blend of salt and vinegar, crisp and soft. Marinated in conserva (a Thomas Keller preparation), they were flavored with soy sauce and dried sea nettles and placed in a pool of thick ginger purée.
» beef & brassica: $20; The quintessential short rib dish, braised dark and crusty to yield maximum crispness without being burnt. Well-drained of fat, it had tons of beef flavor, especially since it came on a pool of beef jus doused with red pepper and soy.
» mapo doufu: $16; A remarkable preparation of mofu flavored with fermented bean sauce that tasted just like hearty beef—seriously. It is one of the best meatless dishes I’ve had. There was a dark, sticky soy coating on the mofu, and mustard greens added a tangy element to the mix, which overall had a not-too-spicy Sichuan character.
» nori rice: $8; While it may seem extravagant to spend $8 extra for rice when many of the dishes come with it, this blend has seaweed flakes and sesame seeds and is exceptional. It’s high on the umami scale, Asian cuisine’s fifth flavor.
* There isn’t much here I wouldn’t recommend (except maybe the Crispy Pork, which was too fatty for my taste and came with some pork rind attached!). The menu changes periodically, but I say, try it all!

This is a must-try new spot. It’s a collaboration between chef Ryan McDonald (formerly of Juniper, Monarch, Byrd & Barrel and Puck’s) and Corey Smale of Strange Donuts. Word is, McDonald spent the better part of a year studying and practicing with Asian flavors to perfect the craft. It shows—no need to rely on good fortune.

1641 Tower Grove Ave. | 314.726.4666

Pictured above | the good fortune: egg noodles, chicken, vegetables, egg and soy