CINCINNATI -- I am a sucker for noodles, from ramen to rice noodles to homemade German-style noodles to the wide variety of Italian noodles.
Basically, if it’s a noodle, from any culture, I’ll eat it. So when I heard that Fortune Noodle House in Clifton serves handmade noodles, I had to try it.
Fortune Noodle House specializes in noodles -- half of the menu is dedicated to them. Another quarter of the menu is dedicated to Chinese delicacies, such as pig ears, tea eggs and beef tripe in chili sauce. The last quarter is dedicated to entrees that Americans might find familiar, but these are done exceptionally well. The food is from Northern China, with lots of Sichuan peppercorns and noodles but not a lot of rice.
The handmade noodles are a sight to behold: The noodle maker works from a windowed kitchen, where he or she faces the dining room, folding and shaking out noodles in a way that seems almost miraculous. One fold becomes four layers, four layers become 16 and so on until the noodle maker has an armful, enough for portions of fried noodles or noodle soup. They go into giant pots of boiling water, and after a quick, bubbling bath, they are either put into soup or a fried noodle dish.
I prefer the simple pan-fried noodles: noodles, your choice of protein (I prefer pork), some cabbage and a light, soy-based sauce. A friend who joined me at my first outing tried the soup bowl with pork rib. It's delicious but a little difficult to eat, and while the portion is very generous it's harder to take home as leftovers. You need to slurp these noodles when they’re fresh, which is even cited on the menu.
Delve deeper into the menu and you’ll find many traditional Chinese items, as well as more Americanized ones. On my second visit, I couldn’t tear myself away from the noodles, but my husband tried his favorite Chinese-American dish, General Tso’s chicken. This was one of the best renditions I’ve had, with tender chicken, a not-too-sweet sauce and another very generous portion that made excellent leftovers. If you’re getting dinner to go, I’d suggest grabbing an item off of the non-noodle menu, and this is an excellent choice.
Fortune Noodle has no liquor license, but it does have excellent boba tea in flavors like coconut and taro. These, too, are not too sweet, with a generous portion of tapioca pearls at the bottom.
Like many restaurants in college areas, your meal will be inexpensive. Two entrees and two drinks ran us about $20.
Fortune Noodle House
349 Calhoun St., Clifton