Monday, September 17, 2012
Mission Chinese – Hottest Food Pop-Up in the Mission
Mission Chinese (at Lung Shan Restaurant) – 2234 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94110 415.863.2800
As I mentioned that I was working out of San Francisco this week, I of course took advantage of all their interesting eats, especially in the trendy Mission area, in which I lived last week. I loved being surrounded by countless gourmet food options along Valencia, Mission and Guerrero Streets, one of which was this amazing pop-up restaurants I found out about through my co-worker Danny as well as Jessica Alba at the Tech:Crunch Disrupt conference.
Located in the heart of the Mission District, directly on Mission Street and 18th Street, Mission Chinese stands out amongst a sea of not so nice surroundings, which are very much characteristic of a developing neighborhood. And because of this, it’s really easy to spot, as it’s the place with the biggest crowds of hipsters out front. I immediately spotted these Williamsburgesque peeps and knew I was in the right place, right in front of Lung Shan Chinese restaurant.
And while the interior is nothing fancy and looks very much like any Chinese family-style restaurant, it’s packed with a young, hip crowd and percolates with energy and excitement. I like the little fairy lights hung on the walls and the paper lanters on the ceiling, giving it a more festive vibe than I think originally existed with its previous owners.
While the wait for a table is enormous and unfortunately because they don’t take reservations, I decide to get take-out, which takes about 15 minutes. I think this was a good choice though, as I head back to my apartment to gobble up my goodies.
The interesting menu is designed by Chef Danny Bowien, who also has this pop-up in NYC (Lower East Side) and it’s no doubt filled with really interesting and innovative takes on traditional Chinese cuisine. Since I’m pretty hungry, I choose both an appetizer and an entrée, happy to see that a portion of each entrée goes to the San Francisco Food Bank. Here’s a recap of my feast:
Smashed Cucumbers in Garlic Sauce – While I saw that this app had a little fiery sign, meaning that it was spicy, I went for it, as I thought it’d be refreshing too – after all, it’s cucumbers! And yes…the spice factor delivered but the freshness and the cooling nature of the cucumbers were a superb way to start dinner. Drenched in a garlic chili sauce, they weren’t for sensitive palates, and definitely gave your tastebuds a run for their money.
Thrice Cooked Bacon Entrée – I wasn’t sure what to expect here, as this entrée included a variety of different ingredients such as rice dumplings, tofu skins, fresh cilantro and of course the mighty bacon. The top of the dish was dressed with additional chili powder, which I carefully took off, since I was already amped up on spice from the cucumbers. The tangy chili sauce still had the spicy seeds interspersed throughout, which added more fuego, but overall, the flavors were really smoky, deep and citrusy as well from the cilantro. The bacon itself was too fatty in my opinion and I would’ve liked it to be thicker, but the rice dumplings were fabulously chewy and reminded me of mochi that I had in Japan.
Service and Cost:
Unfortunately due to the intense crowds, the service certainly suffers and feels disorganized. Even though I was told that my dish would be ready in about 10 minutes and that they’d call my name, after about 15, I had to give them a nudge only to find out that they blatantly forgot about me.
Prices are inexpensive for the quality of food you’re getting and for the above mentioned appetizer and entrée, I paid a total of $16 (no tip required).