2 for $20: Fortune Star fills Asian niche left by Peony

THE PLACE: Fortune Star Chinese Japanese Cuisine is a little difficult to find if you’ve never been there, hidden away as it is among three blocks of commercial development that stretch west along Mae Anne Avenue from Robb Drive,

The restaurant, tucked into the middle of the development, restaurant serves Chinese and Japanese food, including sushi, in what once was the Chinese restaurant Peony. New owners opened as Fortune Star in May.

THE LOOK: Inside, Fortune Star is a little dark, but not unpleasantly so. About eight booths with cheerful red upholstery line the dining room. A dozen or so tables fill the center, with seating at each for six or eight diners. There’s more seating along the wall leading to the kitchen. A sushi bar fills one corner with about 12 high bar chairs. The dark floor and shiny black table tops punctuate the subdued atmosphere.

THE MEAL: My dining companion and I both enjoy many styles of Asian food and were regular, if not frequent, visitors to Peony. Fortune Star’s menu is pretty basic, with sections devoted to appetizers and soup, and to poultry, pork, beef, chicken, seafood and vegetable entrées. There also are lunch combinations, as well as rice and noodle dishes.

My companion and I start off with soups — he goes for a cup of hot and sour, and I order egg flower, for $2.95 each. The hot and sour leaves a nice tingle on the tongue without being too hot, but the egg flower soup is bland. I salt it – twice — and I almost never salt restaurant food.

For entrées, I try pan-fried noodles with pork for $9.95. The meal arrives nicely arranged on a serving plate. A bed of thin crisp noodles is covered with a mixture of lean pork tidbits, carrots, pea pods, broccoli, mushrooms and other veggies in a flavorful light sauce.

My companion’s mu shu pork is another mix of pork, fried egg, onions, and sprouts, served with plum sauce and tortilla-size “pancakes” in which diners wrap the meat-veggie mixture. The pancakes are moist and pliable, and the pork-veggie mixture gets kicked up a notch when finished with a little plum sauce.

KUDOS: Service is prompt and quick; the entrées are generous enough that we both end up with take-out boxes for reheating the meals at home. Even the mu shu pancakes survive the trip home and reheat nicely.

QUIBBLES: Other than the bland egg flower soup, nothing is off, although neither is anything spectacular.

ALTERNATIVES: As at many Asian food restaurants, the menu at Fortune Star Cuisine is loaded with meals in the $8-12 range. And there is sushi — an all-you-can-eat order is $15 before 4 p.m. and $22 after 4 p.m.

RETURN TRIP: It’s close to our neighborhood, the décor is comfortable, the menu extensive and the food is pretty good, so we’ll probably return.

FORTUNE STAR CUISINE CHINESE JAPANESE CUISINE

WHERE: 6430 Mae Anne Ave., west of Robb Drive

PHONE: 775-747-3288

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

WHAT’S $10 OR LESS: A range of appetizers, plus kung pao and sweet and sour chicken and pork, and a half dozen vegetable entrées. There’s a long list of lunch combos for $7 and lunch combo deluxe plates for $8.95.