CH Projects New Concept, Fortunate Son, Is Now Open
Now open in North Park, Consortium Holdings (CH Projects) newest concept, Fortunate Son, pays homage to American Chinese takeout classics with a menu that chronicles the cultural exchange between the United States and China that helped turn restaurant dining into an egalitarian ideal and a democratic experience in the early 20th century.
“Among my chef friends and the epicurean elites, aka “foodies”, the conversation around great Chinese food was always centered around authenticity, with classic American Chinese takeout dishes not considered authentic. But, having grown up in the Chinese American restaurant my parents have worked at for the past 25 years, I’ve always seen it as a by-product of enormous creativity and ingenuity of Chinese Immigrants. They adapted to what was available to them in the early 20th century and created some of the most iconic dishes in the history of this country, I’m really proud of this cuisine,” says Chef Tony Guan who is helming the kitchen at Fortunate Son.
Pulled together from conversations between CH culinary director/partner Jason McLeod and executive chef Tony Guan (UnderBelly, Restaurant Gary Danko), both love dishes like General Tso’s Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork, which can be hard to embrace as serious chefs when the ingenuity and the culinary history of these dishes is not considered. The original gourmands, the Chinese were using complex and exciting ingredients, spices and techniques for centuries.
“Tony started doing a Chinese pop-up at IRONSIDE and we couldn’t help but think of the possibilities. Pairing those flavors and textures, while sourcing the best of California produce and proteins, the results could be pretty special,” says McLeod. “The menu will be primarily wok driven with locally sourced vegetables playing a heavy hand, the menu should feel familiar, but elevated.”
Drawing on his Chinese-American heritage, Guan combines traditional spices and techniques, chasing the elusive energy of wok-hei, with playfully updated ingredients, i.e. Beef & Shishito Peppers instead of the traditional Beef & Broccoli. Wok cookery achieves that “Dragon’s Breath” or fire-kissed taste on dishes like Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet & Sour Pork Belly and vegetarian options like, King Oyster Mushrooms and General Tso’s Cauliflower made with ginger, garlic, shaoxing wine, and dried chillies.
Using the wok’s high heat, 650 degrees, Chef Guan makes “ordinary vegetables” the unsung heroes of Chinese cuisine, drawing out natural sugars and adding a smokey char to enhance their natural vibrancy. Each evening, a selection of house specialties like the Family Style Duck and Lotus Leaf Sticky Rice will be prepared on a limited basis. Dishes are accompanied by Chef Guan’s large pantry of housemade condiments including fermented chili paste.
Fortunate Son elevates the Chinese takeout experience with ingredient quality, sourcing from the same purveyors that are featured on the menus at other CH Projects’ restaurants, seafood from the fisherman that supply Ironside Fish & Oyster, and beef from ranchers that supply Born & Raised. Foregoing imitation Krab for fresh lump crab in the Crab Rangoons and using local produce in everything, including sauces, like the whole fresh oranges that are simmered in the Orange Chicken.
Fortunate Son will open in a special stretch of Adams Avenue that housed Soda & Swine. Picking up the bones of the former restaurant, the interior has been reimagined into a texture-rich space lost in time, preserving elements of its partially demolished core with much of the roof structure removed to allow for natural light. Guests enter the 38 seat restaurant through a massive circa 1900 hand-carved, gilded arch opening to the dining room, walls are accented by antique Chinese porcelain panel screens. “We were fortunate to have some friends in Beijing that were able to send us a few pretty special large antique pieces for the dining room,” says Tafazoli.
After going through the arched entrance, guests will dine under a dramatic large flora installation near the open kitchen, anchored by a dumpling rolling room. The dining room is flanked by a 10-foot tall custom sculpted fire-breathing dragon head. The space also features a walk-up takeout window, with much of the menu designed to travel well, bowing to the realities of the current dining landscape, “Making food that travels well has become a matter of survival. With a portion of the kitchen being designed for takeout we are hoping our menu can be received at home with the same character and warmth that you’d get inside our dining room,” says Guan.
Fortunate Son is open for outdoor dining and takeout on: Monday – Friday from 4:00pm – 10:00pm and Saturday – Sunday from 12:00pm – 10:00pm.
See you there…and stay healthy, San Diego!