Lawyers and bureaucrats who dine at the Court of the Mandarins on M Street may be surprised when they read the messages in the restaurant's fortune cookies later this month. Tired of the same, trite fortunes that are tucked inside most cookies, the restaurant's director, Aline Berman, is filling her restaurant's cookies with witticisms written by a Washington-wise friend.

Among the tailor-made observations:

"For lawyers to feast on the meat of the shark is a form of cannibalism."

"Bureaucracy, like the eggroll, is shrimp surrounded by dough."

"Fiscal restraint is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

"Rice is nice, but a retainer is saner."

"Death comes to any idea imprisoned in the mind of a lawmaker."

Those and other sayings were penned by a professor of political science at Rutgers University, Ross Baker, who once worked on the Senate staffs of Birch Bayh and Walter Mondale. Berman spent her summer arranging to insert the fortunes into the traditional oriental cookie, and she hopes to have the just-for-Washington fortunes ready for customers in a couple of weeks. Berman will also encourage diners to make up their own sayings. A panel of judges will then select those deserving of being inserted in future cookies.