The first thing that stood out at Mission Chinese Food was the super eclectic décor- which I loved. Think gold dragons with glowing red eyes, hanging chandeliers, gold and silver paper fan decorations and a pretty sweet glowing blue aquarium in the middle of the tables. Playing throughout the restaurant was Raeggaton-esk Sublime rock. The atmosphere is fun, chill and easy going.
Danny Bowien, the founder of the Mission Chinese Food restaurants, opened his first location in San Francisco and after being welcomed with rave reviews, decided to bring his ambitious, experimental and self-taught style of Americanized Sichuan Cuisine to New York City in the Lower East Side. Though this NYC based Mission Chinese Food was shut down due to various violations, it was likewise heavily praised, and soon re-established at its current location.
On the Menu
Green Papaya and Banana Blossom Salad– smoked shredded chicken/ green tomatoes/ pickled tea leaves/ peanuts. Super light, refreshing and the perfect salad to cool your palate when your mouth inevitably becomes numb and tingly from the other spice infused dishes.Lettuce Cups– beef tartare/ miso cured salmon roe/ fried onions. This was one of my favorite dishes! It was spicy and super flavorful- unlike any tartare I’ve ever tasted. The flank steak was topped with bright orange salmon roe and chiles and the plate was beautifully framed with shiso and lettuce leaves meant for wrapping the briny, satisfying, bites of the tartare. Chewy Green Tea Noodles– ginger scallion/ hoisin/ green tea matcha. This was a lovely and unexpected combo that gave the noodles a gorgeous light green color. The chewy ramen noodles had a nice, fresh kick to it and were dusted with matcha powder.Chongqing Chicken Wings– crispy beef tripe/ explosive chili/ xinjiang spices. These chicken wings have the most insane, fiery flavors. The word “spicy” doesn’t do them justice because these wings have a way more complex spice than, say, your everyday hot sauce. These crispy wings are coated in a spice blend of Sichuan peppercorns, fennel, cumin and coriander, and served with dried red chiles, cilantro, scallions and sesame seeds. The result? A numbing build up of searing heat that eventually overcomes your tongue and mouth- in the best way possible. True confession: I could only eat one!Broccoli Beef Brisket– smoked oyster sauce, flax seeds. A fancy version of the Chinese menu standard: beef and broccoli. In this dish, crunchy broccoli rabe and juicy chunks of fatty brisket are covered in a smoky oyster sauce. As a huge fan of ribeye steak and ribs, I really enjoyed the meatiness of the brisket.Umeboshi & Shiso Fried Rice– a flavorful fried rice that pairs up delightfully with all of our dishes!
Mapo Tofu– heritage pork, aged beef fat, doubanjiang. Super rich, oily- in a good way, meaty and once again, numbingly outrageous in flavor. The tofu was soft, the pork savory and the spices overwhelming. The dish was similar to an explosively hot, meaty bolognese sauce, Sichuan style.Bottom line: I’ve never had Sichuan food like this before, and while I’m a fan, the spice is real. Mission Chinese is probably not the best choice for the faint-hearted and certainly not going to be fun for those who can’t handle the heat. That being said, the dishes are inventive, bold and delicious- definitely worth trying at least once!