Mission Chinese Food

>> Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Man this is good, but... it's definitely... different"

I can't think of a better quote to describe this place. It's exactly what I was thinking while digging into lunch here. Mission Chinese Food sums up the spirit of San Francisco by being different and not exactly following tradition, while all at the same time still paying respect to cultural roots. Chef Danny Bowein's take on Chinese food has really taken the city by storm in the past several years. Bowein has really caught the eye of the food world by making the food he wants to eat.

I popped in with a friend on a late weekday afternoon to see a moderate sized crowd. Luckily there was no wait as we took a table on the far end of the dim christmas lights lit room. The notorious over sized dragon is quite a sight to see up close and really does bring the place alive. I couldn't help but smile seeing the original owners from Lung Shan still working the tables. It seems nowadays its just a way for them to keep busy which I admire.

After a few minutes perusing over the menu we decided on the much talked about Ma Po Tofu with a side of rice and the Smoked Beef Brisket Noodle Soup. A few minutes of hearing the wok on blast in the kitchen and out came lunch. Fast and efficient, just as it should be.


The Ma Po Tofu is hard to describe. Part of me wants to not like it since it's not the Ma Po Tofu I know and grew up around. But it's just so darn good and simple. I love the fact that the tofu pieces are large and actually intact as opposed to broken down from over stirring. It's heavy on the spices with the szechuan peppercorns being really pronounced leaving the numbing feeling in your mouth. I think this dish really depends on your level of saltiness. Personally I felt like it was salty side, but the rice helps to balance it out.

The Smoked Beef Brisket Noodle Soup was my favorite of the two. Every element of this dish was perfect in my mind. The extra wide rolled up rice noodles (Cheung Fun) were fresh and carried a nice spring to them. The bok choy brought a nice crunch and contrast in texture. The beef was lovingly made with rich fatty smokiness oozing with savory goodness. But, like with any noodle soup, the broth is what makes or breaks the dish. It was a complex flavor of cardamom, soy, and bright acidic notes of a vinegar. I'd go back just for this dish.

Overall, Mission Chinese lives up to the hype. It's different take worth trying if you've grown tired of traditional Chinese food flavors. There's plenty more on the menu worth trying out. I recommend going with a larger group so you can get  a wider variety of dishes. Between the two dishes we took home a decent amount of leftovers. On the upside you won't feel guilty about the price knowing that 75 cents of each dish goes to support a local charity.

2234 Mission St
(at Between 18th and 19th Streets )
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-2800
Mission Chinese Food on Urbanspoon


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