F.O.O.D. Meeting - February 2006The second meeting for Foodies of Omaha took place on Saturday, Feb 18th. Our theme for this month was "Authentic Ethnic Food". We were looking for places that could provide a true recreation of food found in the region the restaurant represents. Admit it, most of the Italian, Chinese and Mexican places your friends and co-workers eat at are not truly ethnic. As a matter of fact, if most people ran into "Authentic" ethnic food, they might never eat that region's cuisine again; at least in the midwest.
So with open minds and empty stomachs, we searched out the places that we knew could provide us food with some combination of organs, "interesting" textures and accents & umlauts. Of the places in Omaha that we identified as having this capability, we came up with the following list.
Ahmad's - Persian (Old Market)
Das Rheinland - German (Old Market)
El Alamo - Mexican (24th & O St.)
Espana - Spanish (60th & Maple)
Grand Fortune - Cantonese (172nd & Center)
Howard's - Mexican (13th & I St.)
Indian Oven - Indian (Old Market)
Katie's - Greek (40th St & Dodge St.)
Le Voltaire - French (156th & Dodge St.)
Mediterranean Bistro - ? (120th & Blondo)
After voting and juggling, Grand Fortune was decided upon as our venue.
Now before anyone starts flaming that this or that place isn't authentic, let me remind you, this was a list of places that we knew had the ability. Yes, Grand Fortune serves Crab Rangoon, which is about the least authentic Chinese food after Fortune Cookies, but if you know the secret password...
At Grand Fortune, the secret password (passphrase really) is "Can I see your other menu?". Do this and you'll be rewarded with a plain white laminated menu with authentic Cantonese style delectables such as steamed fish, scallion chicken, Singapore noodles and several other Chinatown standards. Now, I've never been to China, so I can't vouch for the authenticity, but I can say that all of their dishes match pretty well to what I've grown accustom when eating in Oakland's Chinatown. This might have something to do with the fact that the owner is from Oakland and the chef is from San Francisco. The best part is, if you have a favorite dish that's not on the menu, just ask for it. Chances are, if you can say it, they can make it. Oh, and they have DIM SUM!
So with our secret passphrase, we met with the owner, Tracy, and setup to have a 9 course Chinese style banquet consisting of the following items:
Seafood Tofu Soup
Honey Walnut Shrimp
Chinese Sausage & Gai-lan
Bok Choy with Black Mushroom
Scallion Chicken (half)
Cantonese Style Duck (half)
Spareribs in Imperial Sauce
Sweet Taro & Tapioca Soup
Unfortunately, several of our members were unable to attend, so we had to pare down our menu a bit. The items we did not have were: Chinese Sausage, Scallion Chicken and the Spareribs. Of the items we did have, everything was fantastic. I'm not originally from Oakland and I only lived there for a couple of years, but it felt like being home.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures for you and I'm not going to describe each of the dishes we had because most of them taste exactly like they sound. I will say that the duck we had was better than most I've had in the past and this is the first time I've ever finished a Chinese dessert (though I did donate the taro to my wife).
Speaking of dessert, we might have a tradition starting at our F.O.O.D. meetings. After we finished at Grand Fortune, we made a quick stop down the road to Gelato Jo's. I can't really say if their gelato is better than Whole Foods, but it's definitely in the top 2 of Omaha.
So if you've always wanted to try some "authentic" Chinese food, stop in to Grand Fortune, say "Hi" to Tracy, tell her Foodies of Omaha sent you and muster up your tongue to spit out the words "Gon Chow Ngau Ho" and enjoy your Beef Chow Fun!
Grand Fortune Chinese Cuisine
17330 W Center Rd # 106
Omaha, NE 68130
1223 S 180th St
Omaha, NE 68130
**This has been cross-posted to eGullet.org**
A Foodies of Omaha Report - Feb 2006: Grand Fortune/Gelato Jo's
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