Note: Fortune Cookie closed on January 14, 2016.
I have to admit that American Chinese fast food is a total guilty pleasure of mine. I love Panda Express. There’s something so delicious about a giant bowl of orange chicken or even better, a giant bowl of leftover cold chow mein noodles. It’s even more satisfying when you eat it straight out of the white and red carton with a pair of chopsticks.
Leave it to two Americans to open Fortune Cookie (83 Changshu Road; 常熟路83号)– Shanghai’s answer to every foreigner craving Westernized Chinese food. With familiar dishes like orange chicken, sweet and sour pork, and hot and sour soup, I was ready to order practically everything on the menu.
My two girlfriends and I finally decided on shrimp chow mein, orange beef and Tsingtao can chicken. One of my friends has a severe peanut allergy, which makes eating Chinese food in China very difficult (often times the pots aren’t washed out well with lingering peanut oil/peanuts). When we told our server about her peanut allergy, he was really good about checking and letting us know which dishes to avoid. A few minutes later, one of the founders, David Rossi, even stopped by to reconfirm that the chow mein had peanuts in the sauce. It was a level of service that my friend has never found in any other restaurant in Shanghai (part of the reason why she likes to eat at Fortune Cookie).
Staying true to its American roots, Fortune Cookie serves American-sized food. With each bite of food, I was instantly transported back to my days in college when we used to drive for midnight runs to Panda Express. It was total comfort food. The orange beef was crispy, hot and sweet at the same time. The shrimp chow mein was exactly how I wanted it to taste. The Tsingtao can chicken isn’t exactly a dish you would find back in the States (or, at least I’ve never had it). Despite the 45-minute wait for the chicken (they warn you when you order it), it was well worth it. The chicken was tender and flavorful and served with a funky red sauce that tasted like a mixture of fermented tofu, sesame and peanuts.
The three of us polished off everything. If there had been leftovers, we would have gotten one of those classic white and red take-out boxes. Of course, there were fortune cookies to end the meal and each one had a funny message inside. While the prices are a little high compared to what you would pay in the U.S. (64 RMB for shrimp chown mein), it is totally worth it if you’re craving Chinese fast food. It’s the perfect restaurant to go with your expat friends when you’re all feeling just a little bit nostalgic for home.