Saturday, August 18, 2012

Finally, Mission Chinese.

Since opening its New York branch in July, this San Francisco-based Chinese restaurant has been a veritable hotspot on the foodie scene.  Much like the recent Portland-transplanted Pok Pok, Mission Chinese immediately yielded hour plus-long waits since opening and shows no signs of slowing down.  

To avoid this dreadful waste of time, one's options include: 
1. Eating like a grandma, and showing up at 5:00 p.m. (no offense to grandmas, they are super cute); wait for doors to open.
2. Eating an off-peak lunch.
3. Going small on eating group size.  (Invite only the essential friends with the best appetites.)
4. Making a reservation through email and hoping for a response.
5. Getting carryout.

My friend Olivia and I opted for #2:  15 minute wait at 2:35p on a Saturday.  Perfect.

While waiting in the tiny front room, you can openly stare at the chefs through the long plexiglas window showcasing their kitchen.  The wok saw a lot of heat and action under our hungry watch.

After 15 impatient minutes, Olivia and I made our way through the thick curtains to reveal a bright and cheery space, simply decorated with a touch of Asian funk, as highlighted by the great dragon suspended from the ceiling.

And while placing our order took a bit of patience (exceptionally leisurely service), dear Olivia and I were eventually staring down on a meal that could've easily served a family of four, but we do enjoy ourselves a gutbusting challenge !

The infamous thrice cooked bacon and rice cakes.  Strikingly smoky with perfectly cooked pork belly and pleasantly chewy rice cakes.  Not too spicy, but definitely enough heat from the chili oil to sufficiently liven things up.

Salt cod fried rice.  A simple and fine fried rice, but I honestly couldn't taste any sign of fish anywhere - nothing like the pungent splendor of Yogee that I had hoped. Next time, I'd opt for just ordering some regular rice and trying another savory plate !

Mapo tofu.  I revealed to Olivia that this was my first time to ever try mapo tofu, and she was glad that my first experience was at Mission Chinese, where the mapo tofu was excellent.  Fat chunks of medium firm tofu plunged in a thick, spicy meaty sauce.  I loved eating the spicy bits of sludgy ground pork shoulder.  (I know that sounds so attractive.  I mean it in the most flattering way possible.)

Our final dish was the stir-fried pork jowl and radishes.  A strange ol' dish that taught me two new things about myself:

1. I love cooked radishes.
2. I love pork jowls.

The jowls were thick cut, with even ratios of fat to meat, with a harder bite than pork belly and a slightly gamey aftertaste.  Paired with the crisp radishes, the savory sesame leaves and flavorful sauce, this dish was a surprise knockout.  Definite recommend.

Similar to my thoughts on Pok Pok, I was glad Mission Chinese lived up to the hype with its unique combination of textures and flavors from more uncommon ingredients.  I can't tell you the last time I ever saw jowls on the menu, but I am glad they are offered here.  Don't be afraid of the reviews citing super spiciness - I didn't find any of the dishes particularly painful, and actually would have preferred everything to have been kicked up a notch !

Han's Nonsensical Rating: Definitely hipstery, definitely hype-worthy. Definitely go with pork-loving pals.

154 Orchard St
New York, NY
Mission Chinese Food on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. i can't stop staring at the bacon rice cakes...