Ask San Franciscans about their favorite restaurants and they will not shut up about Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food, the totally dive-y, totally delicious Chinese spot that not only packs in the faithful night after night after night (except Wednesdays! because they’re closed), diners rapturous about the explosive flavors, the fresh ingredients, the love that goes on in that kitchen, but also donates a portion of each day’s receipts to a local charity.
Sounds like the type of place residents of NYC apartments would appreciate, yes? Well, judging by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception Mission Chinese Food NYC has received on nights one and two here in the big town, the answer is, no surprise, most definitely yes.
I went to Mission Chinese Food NYC on its second night, arriving at 5:00 to the below-ground hole-in-the-wall-looking Orchard Street entrance in the pouring rain, to avoid a line (expect long waits during anything remotely prime time) and was totally thrilled by each of the three dishes I devoured.
Really, it’s one of those meals that I can’t stop thinking about, the way they balance fire and smoke, funk and acid, bitter and sweet. And the best part is, because everything’s so inexpensive, I can go back soon, and often. And the also best part is, Mission Chinese Food NYC gives away 75 cents to Food Bank of New York each time someone orders of the “large” dishes, and each time a cocktail is consumed.
Anyway, the three dishes I had from the Mission Chinese Food NYC menu were all 100% winners. The Tea Smoked Eel comes wrapped in nicely gummy cheung fun noodles, snuggled in there with some pulled pork trotter and Chinese celery stalks, for some crunch. And don’t ignore the greenish, purplish shoots piled on top: the crisp veggies bring some necessary bitter to each bite.
Thrice Cooked Bacon proved worthy of its irresistible name, the thick-cut, smoked-out and greasily-fatty meat sharing the plate with small circles of soft rice cake, as well as bitter melon, chewy tofu skin and fiery chili oil.
My favorite dish of my meal at Mission Chinese Food NYC, however, was the face-numbing, mind-blowing bowl of Lamb Cheek Dumplings, bursting with deeply rich meat, served in a genius combination of red oil, black vinegar, rock sugar and “numbing” peppercorn.
Note: when Mission Chinese Food NYC indicates a dish is spicy, it is not joking around. And I didn’t even try any of the “TWO flickers of flame” offerings! Just fantastic, all of it.
Mission Chinese Food NYC is located in the Lower East Side on Orchard Street between Stanton and Rivington, and is open from 5:00 p.m until 12:00 midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. No lunch, take-out, or delivery yet, but all three coming “soon”.
IMPORTANT: like the San Francisco original, Mission Chinese Food NYC is CLOSED WEDNESDAYS. More info and the complete Mission Chinese Food NYC menu, on their website.
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