- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

Restaurant owner Grace Lee and her husband, master chef Michael Lee, opened the elegant Grace's Fortune 13 years ago. Since then, it has garnered so many loyal patrons that on a typical Friday night, the wait for a table is 1 hours long.
Located in an out-of-the-way Bowie strip mall, Grace's is not a typical Chinese restaurant. The atmosphere alone is worth the trip. On entering, you walk over a wooden bridge that spans an indoor pond filled with Japanese koi. In the middle of the main dining area, a gigantic aquarium is filled with deep-sea creatures. Once seated, you are surrounded by warm dark wood and beautiful Chinese antiques some replicas, some originals, according to Mr. Lee.
Wine and Chinese? The Lees say absolutely. They offer an impressive list of good light-, medium- and full-bodied white and red wines by the glass as well as an extensive list of bottles. Napa-Saki, a premium sake cultivated in the Pacific Northwest, is featured as well. There also is an outrageous menu of 19 types of martinis.
Our table started the evening with crispy spring rolls ($2.25 apiece) and the crab Rangoon ($6.95). The spring rolls were prepared perfectly. The crab Rangoon was a tasty fried dumpling filled with a cream-cheese-and-crab mixture. We would have appreciated a little more crab filling with the dumpling, but that might have skewed the proportions.
Other starters included hot and spicy won ton, fried or steamed dumplings and the pupu platter for two: a combination of beef teriyaki, spring rolls, ribs, shrimp tempura and shrimp toast.
Ordering the main plate, I was feeling lucky and selected Grace's Fortune ($18.95). Sauteed scallops and jumbo shrimp are mixed with snow peas, red pepper, broccoli, carrots and baby corn and presented in a beautiful nest made of crisp potatoes. The scallops and shrimp were huge and plentiful. The chef's mild sauce complemented the seafood and vegetables to perfection. The potatoes were delicious as well.
My wife ordered the crispy duck (half $16.95, whole $30.95). The twice-cooked Long Island duckling had been marinated in aromatic spices, steamed and then fried. My wife, a duck lover, has had it prepared many ways, and this certainly was a change. The double cooking gave the fowl a meatier texture, and the usual fattiness was absent. Paired with hoisin sauce, it was not as rich as the usual duck entree, but equally satisfying.
All entrees are served with steamed rice. For the record, the chef allows no MSG in food preparation.
One of Grace's most popular plates is the Happy Lamb. Tender lamb is sauteed with white onions, green and red peppers, peanuts and dried Chinese pepper. It's Grace's tradition that if you eat this, "it will bring you luck for the whole year."
Other specialties are tender calamari sauteed with snow peas, carrots and celery in a Cantonese-style sauce; a steamed whole sea bass with ginger-scallion soy sauce; and steak in garlic sauce sauteed with snow peas, mushrooms, water chestnuts and napa.
Upon request, Mr. Lee says, he will prepare a variety of items not found on the menu, such as lamb chops, veal chops or filet mignon. Also, local crab, oyster and clam dishes can be prepared when in season.
If you're afraid to be adventurous, you can find all the familiar beef, pork, poultry, seafood and vegetable selections found at most Chinese restaurants (General Tso's chicken, sweet and sour pork, etc.) plus some very tasty fried rice, lo mein, chow mein and egg foo young. The menu is 10 pages long. That's way too many choices for me, but Grace does have something for everyone.
The service was outstanding and the hot towels always arrived at just the right time.
Dessert at this Chinese restaurant is more than a fortune cookie. Grace's adds a small scoop of orange sherbet as a refreshing end to the meal, but for an extra treat, try one of the ice cream "truffles." The Italiano had vanilla and dark chocolate ice cream surrounding an Amaretto-soaked Bordeaux cherry center, with everything dipped in dark chocolate.
Be sure to sample the blended specialty teas as well.
The Lees spent more than 25 years in Silver Spring before opening this Prince George's County meeting place in 1990. More than two years ago, they expanded into an adjacent building that once was a pizza parlor.
Reservations are not accepted, but priority seating is available.
Grace's Fortune is a sophisticated restaurant without sophisticated prices. Give it a try.

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