Dan dan noodles at Fortune Noodle showcase the full potency of the Sichuan pepper (hidden in the sauced at the bottom) that helps makes Sichuan cuisine so distinctive. It is definitely an acquired taste.
BY NADINE KAM
We did not have a true Sichuan restaurant until the arrival of Fortune Noodle at the new 808 Center at 808 Sheridan St.
The small, casual restaurant is the first Hawaii branch of a Chinese-based restaurant chain. It specializes in a short, fast menu of noodle soups, grilled meat and meat-and-vegetable sautes.
Dan dan noodles (below) are the star of the menu, at $6.99 for a small bowl. It will be an eye-opener for those who think they know dan dan noodles. This is the authentic version in which a sauce of chili oil, garlic and crushed Sichuan peppercorns lies at the bottom of the bowl, topped with noodles, ground beef and green onions. Mix it all together to get the full impact, which is not as much hot as mouth-numbing, thanks to the “peppercorn,” which is not really a pepper but the dried husks of coriander seeds. Its herbal character is similar to lavender.
Chili oil dumplings with a dab of garlic paste are a winner for those who can handle a little bit of heat.
Warm up to the peppers with red chili oil dumplings ($6.99). Then cool off with a dessert of iced “noodle” ($2.99), plant gelatin molded in its bowl and topped with brown sugar and a strawberry purée. It looks odd, but it’s so worth ordering.
This restaurant is really worth a full review, but alas, space in the newspaper is limited and with so many eateries opening in the new 808 Center, it would appear too repetitive to keep showing up at this spot week after week for my formal reviews. I’ll be back at the center soon enough anyway, likely as soon as next week!
Fortune Noodle is at 808 Sheridan St. Call 349-3711.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.