Fortune smiles on Chinese restaurant in El Dorado Hills

A year after a devastating fire, eatery reopened April 6
By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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EL DORADO HILLS, CA - More than a year after a fire caused heavy damage and forced its closure, Fortune Garden Chinese restaurant reopened April 6, with its regular menu, plus several new dishes, raffles and a 15 percent discount on all menu items until May 6.

The restaurant, at 899 Embarcadero Drive, Suite 4, in El Dorado Hills, is now open seven days a week after 13 months of restoration work.

Wei Xia Chen, who emigrated in 1998 from China to Sacramento, struggled then found work as chefs in area Chinese restaurants. Saving their money, the Chens waited for an opportunity to follow their dreams of owning their own restaurant.

In 2005, they found one for sale in El Dorado Hills and Fortune Garden was born. Landy Chen-Wu, their elder daughter, became the manager. Her husband, Sam Wu is the chef.

Landy Chen-Wu, 34, also serves as hostess and a waitress. Sam Wu, 45, “has pretty much been in the kitchen his whole life,” she said. Wei Xia Chen also works in the kitchen.

A strong local following for the restaurant grew over the years, with loyal customers leaving good luck notes on the door during reconstruction, encouraging the family to reopen when work was completed.

Among Fortune Garden’s most popular dishes are its handmade pot stickers, wor wonton soup, sesame chicken, general’s chicken and Thai basil beef, the result of an experiment after Sam Wu dined at a Thai restaurant and created a version that has become a customer favorite.

The Wus had worked late the night of February 13 last year, preparing their Valentine’s Day menu for a fully booked crowd of diners. Hours after they returned to their homes, they learned of the fire, apparently ignited by an electrical problem.

The fire destroyed the kitchen and the smoke, soot and water damage affected more than half the dining room.

El Dorado Restoration served as the general contractor for the rebuilding project.

Guests were welcomed to the grand reopening by the family and employees and an updated dining room, new air-conditioning system, updated plumbing and ventilation, new carpet, tile and paint, as well as remodeled bathrooms.

“We have mostly loyal local customers,” said Landy Chen-Wu. “We hope to see them again.”

Fortune Garden is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 9:30 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.