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Mission Chinese Food, Outpost of a San Francisco Popup - Reopen in Lower East Side in the Former Rosette Space


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Last night was hot, hot, Mission Chinese Food's "opening" night, and a friend and I were lucky enough to score a pair of seats, after a nominal 20 minute wait, at the ungodly dinner hour of 6:30; normally, we're drinking at that time - and aren't you? Whatever; here we were, greeted warmly by the host and hostess (Anna and Aubrey), and invited to share a celebratory beer while we waited for our seats to become available making for a festive atmosphere in the waiting area.

Mission Chinese Food, for those who have either been Rip Van Winkle-ing or who don't check Huff Po, Eater, Twitter, et.al. obsessively every 10 minutes of their life, is the New York City outpost of, ummmm, Mission Chinese Food. Except that MCF is in San Francisco, and it opened as a pop-up inside an already existing Chinese restaurant called Lung Shan, on you guessed it, Mission St.

The brainchild of Chef Danny Bowien and partner Anthony Myint, SF's MCF took the food world by storm, and ever since it became clear that Orchard Street and the lower east side would become the home of the 2nd Mission Chinese, NYC's been all atwitter (hmmm) with anticipation.

All well and good. It's not like there aren't 100,000 Chinese restaurants here already; it's just that most of them suck. I've gone into that before and don't need to go into it again right now, but anyone trying to do the right thing with a great cuisine is OK in my book. And a quick chat outside with Chef (who might indeed be TV ready, looking all California-cool in his white chef's jacket, white shorts, baseball cap, hipster glasses and flowing tresses) led me to believe that he's very excited to be on this beautiful block of Orchard Street, dealing with some of NYC's finest purveyors both at the high-end (that meat guy) as well as the ones that supply Chinatown with a vast selection of greens and other goodies. As a matter of fact, he was simply qvelling when telling me how great some of the wholesale prices are here compared to SF - and take that, SF!

The team has also taken what was home to a few less-than-successful fooderies over the years and turned it into a nice, fun space that feels bigger than it really is. I liked the atmosphere, and there are even backs on all of the chairs, which is good for the altacockers like my buddy and me.

I ordered way too much food, but what the heck? The sharp tang of Chinkiang vinegar, heat from chili pepper and buzzy numbness from Szechuan peppercorns is thankfully not dumbed down, at least not in any of the dishes we tried. So, for instance, the Chili Pickled Turnips and Long Beans blow open the taste buds but are impossible to stop eating. As are the Beijing Vinegar Peanuts, meant to be eaten one at a time with chopsticks - order these immediately, so you can eat them with your beer.

Lamb Cheek Dumplings in Red Oil are explosive...and good...a lot of amazing stuff going on in that bowlful of dumplings.

The Tea Smoked Eel was a favorite of ours; it's wrapped in cheung fun, a rice noodle made on the spot at a few places around Chinatown; as a matter of fact, my very first blog post was about this type of noodle, made around the corner at Sun Light Bakery!

I think my favorite dish last night was the Mouth Watering Chicken, a chicken "terrine" with dry-spiced chicken hearts and vegetable "noodles." The hearts are cooked medium-rare, lending them a unique flavor and tenderness, and the breast is nice and moist. They hit it out of the park on this dish.

Was everything perfect? Hell no...I would've liked a little less salt (or saltiness in whatever form) in the Broccoli Beef Cheek with Smoked Oyster Sauce, impossibly tender beef nestled under a bed of some sort of Asian broccoli. But it's oyster sauce and that stuff is, shall we say, saline (and I ate all the cheek anyway).

So - when am I going back? As a matter of fact, I've already made a reservation for this coming Sunday night. They're taking reservations, but only for the bar seats at this point. Otherwise, it's all walk-in. And delivery. And lunch soon.

Orchard Street sure has been looking better and better; now with Mission Chinese Food hitting the street running on all cylinders, it's gotten that much more tasty. Pictures over at Tasty Travails.

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A few more visits keep confirming that Chef Bowien is putting out some amazing food and is not averse to tweaking the menu, depending on availability of various proteins and produce.

Lunch is a civilized time to try MCFNY, and last week Significant Eater and I did just that. A few standouts included this fiery catfish dish, Catfish A La Sichuan...

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It was so bloody hot, that we figured a cold dish would hit the spot. We weren't wrong when we went with the Chilled Buckwheat Noodles...

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I'd been wanting to try the Savory Egg Custard for a while, and was happy it was available...

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Easily my favorite restaurant opening so far this year.

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For those who are interested, Mission Chinese Food New York will be reopening in the recently closed Rosette space.  Rosette was a beautiful restaurant, with great food, that I already miss. But I am comforted by the fact that, practically across the street, I'll have the new Mission Chinese Food.

The address is 171 East Broadway.  Practically right outside the East Broadway stop on the "F" subway line.

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We stopped in (just Significant Eater and me) to MCF's new home Tuesday night (which was night 2 of service), and while there was a scrum up front, we managed to get a table in the dining room, after only a 30 minute wait, downstairs in that bar area.  Tried some dishes we hadn't had before, and that probably are new to the menu. 

A Koji fried chicken dish was fine, 1/2 a bird cut nicely, crispy skin and juicy meat.  The Cantina influence is obvious, as it's served with a tart, spicy tomatillo dipping sauce. The Hainan chicken influence is there too, as the chicken looks like Hainanese chicken, served on a nice bed of sticky rice, along with a side of sliced cucumbers. The half chicken was under $20.

There are 3 fried rice dishes on the menu now. We opted for the beef jerky fried rice, and Sig Eater proclaimed it her favorite dish of the night. Our third thoroughly enjoyable dish was a green papaya and banana blossoms salad, with shredded chicken and pickled tea leaves, nice and vinegar-y...almost makes you think you're eating healthy, which we are trying to do a little more, even when dining out (it ain't easy).

Fourth up was the weirdest dish of the night, a Napa cabbage steamed in chamomile and Masala milk...it didn't float our boat, but I suppose it would serve as a nice counterpoint - had we had ordered a bunch of spicy stuff.  

Any issues? Sure - the cocktail we tried  (OK, she tried - I refused) blew.  Some sort of weird old-fashioned, with way too many ingredients, way too sweet, and just not something you want to drink before this food. They need some help with the cocktail list, beer list and wine list, in my opinion. Of course, it doesn't matter what I think if you can crank out 300 cocktails a night at  $13 a pop - Ka Ching!  But seriously, how about a Pegu Club cocktail, which might be great before food like  this. And, like Leah did at Pig & Khao, just put some damn PBRs  in cans on the list...not all this other weird shit. I mean, there are 2 ciders, neither of which are really drinkable with food like this.

Anyway, overall - of course we'll be back - and plenty.  The food menu is extensive and I look forward to trying it all - even some of the wood-burning oven stuff, when I get around to it. But I'll cocktail first at home, and drink tea and/or water with my meal. Just like I do at Great NY Noodletown.

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@MichaelBDC and I met up with an old roommate of mine for dinner at Mission Chinese while we were in NYC. We got there right on time for our 6pm reservation but my friend ended up being 30 minutes late. The hostess was surprisingly cool about it all and sat us as soon as my friend arrived. The restaurant was too busy but was packed by the time we left. 

We ordered the Lumpia Shanghai Eggroll, Black Kale with umeboshi and lotus root, Malaysian beef jerky fried rice, and the thrice cooked bacon and rice cakes. All the food was great, my favorites being the thrice cooked bacon and the black kale. I had had the thrice cooked bacon before and didn't think much of it then but loved it this time around. The Sichuan peppercorns provided a nice heat and tingly feeling. The cool black kale offset the heat of bacon. The Malaysian fried rice was also tasty, a heaping portion for $15. Unfortunately, we were pretty full by the time this had arrived and ended up packing about half of it to go. The only dish I wouldn't order again (and I will be back) is the eggroll. It wasn't bad, but compared to the other dishes which we all loved, it just wasn't that special. 

This is a really fun restaurant. Food and atmosphere were great and service was friendly. Next time, I will go here with a larger group so we can order more food. My cousin, who goes here regularly, really likes the beef and broccoli made with brisket which I wish we could have ordered. I also really liked the celery on a previous visit but we ran out room in our stomachs. 

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