Mission Chinese Food
Tea Smoked Eel Roll – Rice Noodle, Chinese Celery, Salted Plum Hoisin, Braised Pork, Cognac Soy
Salt Cod Fried Rice – Mackerel Confit, Chinese Sausage, Lettuce, Egg
3x Cooked Bacon and Rice Cakes – Sweet Tofu Skin, Butter Melon, Szechuan Pepper
Thrice thwarted in my attempts to dine at Mission Chinese Food on previous visits to The Bay area but this time calling ahead to assure no unannounced vacations or leaks it was just after noon on a Thursday when I finally visited Danny Bowien’s fabled concept within the confines of Lung Shan, the hype finally diminished with the chef now focused on conquering New York but the food, vibe, and décor more-or-less what I’d expected when I was turned away nearly three years prior. Somewhere between ethnic and hipster with shabby-chic touches beneath a festive dragon and garbled punk playing a bit too loudly it was towards the front of the restaurant that I requested to be sat and with a brief perusal of the menu my order was set – a mere twelve minutes from seating to the arrival of three plates from a service staff pleasant, though perfunctory at best. Obviously focusing on the classics for my first bites of Bowien’s cuisine it was with the “3x Cooked Bacon” that my tasting began and with a notable burn on my lips even as I avoided the whole Szechuan peppers the dish certainly shined – the pork’s saline sapor juxtaposing bitter melon as discs of rice cake soaked up an elixir of fat, aromatics, and heat. Moving next to salt cod, one of my favorite foods, served in the fashion of fried rice perhaps it was an effect of the dish that had preceded it or simply a case of inflated expectations but overall the whole plate tasted bland – a trend thankfully not carried over to the crunchy spring rolls who succeeded everywhere the rice had not as bold fish flavors played point/counterpoint with notes of smoke, saline, and sweet while raw vegetable added just enough texture to make the whole plate not only fresh, but also surprisingly light – something not exactly prominent elsewhere on the Mission Chinese menu.
RECOMMENDED: Eel Rolls, 3x Cooked Bacon
AVOID: Salt Cod Fried Rice
TIP: Seating towards the back of the restaurant is much darker, louder, and warmer than dining up front – request accordingly.