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Special Request: Fortune Express tweaks hot and sour soup to customers' liking

Special Request: Fortune Express tweaks hot and sour soup to customers' liking

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Hot and Sour soup

Hot and sour soup, on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the Fortune Express restaurant, 6738 Chippewa. Photo by Hillary Levin,

Q • People love traditional hot and sour soup, and I would appreciate a really good recipe. P.F. Chang has a great soup, as does Sesame on Watson. I would actually be very happy to get any restaurant’s hot and sour soup recipe. — Chris Krebeck, Sunset Hills

A • Loving hot and sour soup comes easy to lots of folks in St. Louis. The sour taste originates with a healthy amount of vinegar cooked into the broth. The heat comes from dried red chili pepper flakes in this recipe from Fortune Express.

It’s a simple soup that comes together so quickly we strongly suggest home cooks use a technique called mise en place, a French culinary term that means “everything in its place.” In other words, prep well and have all ingredients cut, measured, in a dish and ready to go before you start cooking.

Tony Lieu, the affable owner of Fortune Express, didn’t have a hard-and-fast written recipe when we met. Instead, he plated most of the ingredients in the cuts and quantity they use for me to see. “Everyone knows how to make it. We don’t write it down. We start the soup when the customer orders it,” Lieu says. “We have been cooking this soup for 21 years. We started in the Central West End in 1997 and moved to Chippewa in 1998.” Over the years, Lieu developed a loyal base of clients. Many choose to eat in, others take carry-out, and some have Chinese food delivered to their door.

Over the years, Lieu fine-tuned his hot and sour soup to suit what his customers liked best. “We don’t use wood ear (mushrooms) now because our customers didn’t like them.”

Today, Lieu will add sliced button mushrooms on request, but the mainstay ingredients he uses are a good chicken stock, made in house, small bits of roasted pork loin, grated carrots, green onions, bamboo shoots and tofu.

Fortune Express uses a plain white vinegar as the sour base for this soup, although rice wine vinegar and red or white wine vinegar will also work. The heat can be customized, too, by adding either Sriracha sauce, hot chili oil or red chili paste for the heat.

In addition to popular Chinese standards and combination plates, Lieu features seasonal specialties that rotate throughout the year, like the popular Singapore Noodles he serves now.

He combines vermicelli rice noodles topped with stir-fried pork and shrimp, onions, carrots and mushrooms in a yellow curry sauce for this dish. Other spring offerings include crispy fried tofu squares with a teriyaki-style sauce, spring egg rolls and a teriyaki chicken dish.

Fortune Express is also known for its St. Paul sandwich, a St. Louis original food. In 2011, the restaurant shared the recipe for this classic with Post-Dispatch readers. It would make a perfect pairing with their hot and sour soup.


Fortune Express

6738 Chippewa Street



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