Fortune Garden, a restaurant/carryout hidden away in a strip shopping center, is a bit difficult to characterize. Its inconsistencies can find you singing its praises for a superb entree while, at the same time wondering why it can't do better with a simple staple like pork fried rice.

One of two hits we had there one recent evening was an appetizer of Hawaiian beef sticks (four for $4.30). The long thin strips of beef served kebab-style with pineapple and a cherry were meaty, tender and tasty.

The Hunan Chicken entree ($8) won compliments, too. The chicken was tender, and even more delightful were the fresh vegetables -- broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas and baby corn -- that accompanied it. The sauce had just the right kick to be spicy but not too hot.

On the other hand, Fortune Garden's pork fried rice ($3.70/pint) was rather disappointing. It included plenty of pork, but was otherwise lacking in flavor and was more or less ignored by one hearty eater in our group. Similarly, the won ton soup ($3/quart) was only adequate.

Fortune Garden's menu also includes five diet specials -- served with no MSG, salt, sugar or added cornstarch -- and several inexpensive luncheon specials served Mondays to Saturdays.

4130 Joppa Road, Perry Hall. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sundays. Call 256-8866.

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