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Starters: Gourm-Asian's success brings Good Fortunes to North Buffalo

A couple of the most enthusiastic men I’ve ever met have recently spun their food truck beginnings into a brick and mortar restaurant called Good Fortunes just off Main Street near the University at Buffalo South campus.

Greg Whitehurst and Jo Jo of the popular Gourm-Asian food truck are cranking out off the wall Asian fusion munchies behind a modest walk-up window lined by some funky crimson counter space with comfortable seating for eight to 10 people.

True pioneers at heart, these two are pouring their effort into a relatively vacant category in the Buffalo dining scene that’s only limitations are the extent of their imagination.

The menu truly spans the continent and then some. Dishes like Korean broccoli and smoked edamame hold East Asian roots, while the banh mi and Chonquing chicken wings showcase flavors from the South. Curries and a plethora of vegetarian options round out the Western half of the content, while some American Chinese classics like sesame chicken and lo mein have staked their claim on the menu. It’s a truly all-encompassing selection.

Gourm-Asian Bistro truck opening University Heights restaurant

The crimson and quaint interior of Good Fortunes on Main Street in North Buffalo. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News).

By my choosing dishes came out one by one while they fried my wings. I have a hard policy to order wings regardless of circumstances, and the wok-fried Asian-spiced options made it all the more enticing to pull the trigger.

A contender for best-ever is Good Fortunes' lemon pepper curry chickpea burrito. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

The lemon pepper curry chickpea burrito ($13) consists of charred chickpeas, black beans, pickled carrot ribbons, spicy arugula and ginger noodles drizzled with a lemon pepper curry sauce on a warm pressed burrito wrap. This burrito hits on a multitude of flavors and textures in each bite. The crunchy tang of the pickled carrots superbly matches the springy bite from the ginger noodles while the smooth chickpeas melt into the gaps.

My only regret was not having a full bottle of lemon pepper curry sauce on the counter to drown my burrito. This may be pricey at $13, but it may be the best in the city.

Smoky sweet Korean broccoli. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

The paring of Korean broccoli was crunchy, smoky and sweet. A pleasant option as a side, it’s well executed but nothing out of the ordinary if you’ve ever eaten a good stir fry.

The banh mi is another incredible showing of versatile flavors. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

The banh mi ($9) is a sandwich that arose during French colonialism in Vietnam. Sweet and tangy pork slathered with roasted garlic aioli is topped with house-made pickles and fresh jalapeños all tightly nestled in a fresh-baked French roll. A three-day marinade renders the pork candy sweet, though the intense tang from the pickles and aioli cut it like a knife.

Just when you’re finished chewing through the warm and crusty roll, the kick from the jalapeño bites down reminding you to take a breath before you go shuffling back in line. This is another must-order at Good Fortunes.

The sesame chicken ($8) is not what you are used to seeing from your corner Chinese takeout restaurant. Good Fortunes has ditched the sticky amber sealant that normally coats the chicken chunks for a light and sweet soy sauce that lets the supporting flavors shine.

A wok-tossed stir-fried preparation, the veggies kept their essence providing a satisfying crunch to match the juicy breast meat atop a filling bed of gently fried rice. A fresh and filling option, think of it as a guilt-free alternative that’s inspired by, but directly competing against, our beloved sweet sticky chicken.

The wok-fried Chongqing chicken wings. (Phil Wagner/Special to The News)

When the wings (six for $8) came out I was somewhat taken aback. I hadn’t known the Chongqing spice was a dry rub, not a sauce. A signature spice combo from its namesake southwestern Chinese city, the Chongqing rub is multifaceted and pungent. Good Fortunes performs a well-executed rendition, but due to my own false presumptions, it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

A pleasantly different preparation, the wok-fried chicken was juicy and crisp, more to the tune of a rotisserie bird than the deep-fried hometown classic. Flavorful and unique, it’s a great item that just didn’t fully hit for me. Next time I’ll go for garlic teriyaki, coconut curry or my beloved lemon pepper curry.

In addition to the pile of food I ordered (is there any other way for Asian food?), Good Fortunes also offers a “pick your own protein” program on lo mein or fried rice ranging from $5-$8 for the small.

An impressive showing from an unassuming storefront just off Main Street, Good Fortunes is poised to set the standard for casual Asian Fusion in Buffalo. An exciting selection of creative crossover dishes, Greg and Jo Jo have built an innovative menu with some selections that are well worth traveling to experience for yourself.

INFO: Good Fortunes, 11 Minnesota Ave. (444-5004). Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.

Owner of the Gourm-Asian Bistro truck is opening his own place. (Good Fortunes)

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