China Fortune

20 West Stimson Avenue
Athens, OH 45701

Another of Athens’ many Asian ethnic food offerings, China Fortune is situated away from the main town commerce centers and along a strip of local businesses on Stimson Avenue. As such, it is on a dividing line of sorts in the community; to the south lie the Palmer Street and Mill Street student neighborhoods which are populated almost exclusively by Ohio University upperclassmen and are renowned for major block parties every spring. To the north is the near east neighborhood, where fewer and fewer students live and rental properties are quickly replaced by families living in Athens permanently. For such a strong dividing line, the food is only moderately good.

Kung Pao Beef: $8.95

I was informed by a waitress that some of the most popular dishes include General Tso’s Chicken and Orange Chicken, very common fried varieties of chicken almost every Chinese restaurant offers. I declined. While it’s nice these dishes are good, they’re also arguably easier to make since so much frying is involved. Instead I opted for a beef dish, Kung Pao Beef, which has traditionally been one of my favorite offerings at Chinese food places. What I got wasn’t terribly exceptional. The beef was tender and moist, but everything else about the dish wasn’t inspired. Complementing the meat were a vegetable medley of water chestnuts, celery, onions and green peppers. They didn’t go well together, and they seemed undercooked and not quite right. I didn’t like them.

The rice was decent, and it did go well with the beef. I ordered a pot of oolong tea and it was also very good. However, another chicken dish looked very similar, and despite being a completely different dish on the menu, it was almost the same. All of these things combined made a very uninspired menu. Nothing was particularly special, and even the service had a hard time finding something that stood out in a meaningful way.

Service was also mediocre. We felt rushed when we were ordering, and I feel like the waitress didn’t understand me when I was asking for the “best dish in the restaurant.” Later when we paid, the staff at the front desk seemed confused about my paying; one person handed the bill to another who seemed to think I had already paid; she would not accept my money and I think even now she only accepted it after I insisted because she thought it was a hefty tip. It’s difficult to work with language difficulties of this magnitude effectively.

The food wasn’t filling and it was a little pricey. It was altogether all right but really I don’t feel like it was that great. I honestly think I’ve had better at half the price. There’s plenty more to taste in Athens.


  • Lunch and dinner prices are basically the same, so the place is good any time.
  • Don’t get too adventurous with this menu, I’m sorry to say it won’t pay off.
  • Definitely order the oolong tea with a meal; it’s great.

China Fortune Restaurant on Urbanspoon


5 thoughts on “China Fortune

  1. After reading your review I have a few thoughts on your comment. Assuming you know “real” Chinese food because you claim to be a critic, if the food was mediocre then how has fortune stayed open for nearly 30 yrs? It is one of the 2 oldest running Chinese food restaurant in athens. Given we are a small town in the Midwest there is not much room for authentic Chinese. For American Chinese food, this place is golden in this area. Maybe not compared to bigger cities. But your review should be based in this area. Also Kung Pao beef is supposed to be cooked tender with a meat tenderizing technique that Chinese chefs do. It’s not supposed to be tough! And the veggies in the dish are your normal american kung pao veggies! And I noticed ordered another Kung Pao dish in the picture. If you were doing a real review why not try all types of dishes to give the place a chance. And for the service, in most Chinese restaurants they hire only chinese staff to ensure your food is cooked properly and ensures better efficient communication among the staff and management. It’s normal to have language barriers in asian restaurants! If you felt rushed its because the menu is very basic and simple just like your everyday Chinese! It doesn’t take 30 minutes to order at McDonald’s so why here?! Bottom line, you can’t compare this place and its service to your normal American restaurant standards because they are foreign! Compared to other Chinese places in athens it is up there in food, portion, and service! You mentioned other better places? Which Chinese restaurants are better? I’m interested in your opinion! The owner of china fortune is way to successful to be named mediocre. But you are entitled to your opinion! I just know ALOT of people who have been loyal 30 year customers to be told it is average!

  2. Oh yea! Your dish was only $8.95 and your tea was $0.50 so how high of quality do you want for that price? You get what you pay for! Nothing is free!

  3. Oh wait I see the other dish in the pic also looks like almond chicken which is the same sauce as Kung Pao just not spicy and with almonds instead of peanuts! The veggies are very very similar compared to each other. Just something I noticed!

    1. Hi Fortune Cookie. Thanks for your comments.
      In two visits to China Fortune I’ve tried four dishes: Kung Pao Beef, Sweet & Sour Pork, Almond Chicken and Pepper Steak. I really have to take China Fortune to task on the flavors; the benefit of visiting dozens of Chinese food places and trying different versions of these dishes reinforce my feelings. In every dish the meat was handled perfectly, but the sauce was bland and it really hurt the dish. A 30-year veteran of restaurants should know both the palette and the language of his customers. I took Campus Garden to task for the same problem.

      I will grant that the business has outlived many other Athens places. But China King offers a full buffet for less than $7. Both China Panda and Peking Express have similarly-portioned food in the $5 to $6 range. They have more flavor in similar recipes. In truth, it seems like China Fortune just needed more of the simple things. The sweet sauce wasn’t sweet enough when it’s usually what dominates the flavor of the dish. You pointed out yourself that some dishes are so similar it’s hard to tell them apart. In the end, even the chef’s specials and the popular dishes didn’t give me a reason to suggest a return. I would love to be proven wrong, to go back and be wowed by the experience and change this review. Unfortunately the experience has been too uniform so far.

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