Mission Chinese is one of the most interesting restaurants to open in the recent year and we’ll be making several visits to try all of the menu items. The first visit was discovery, the second a bit more honed in on trying new things. I got some better photos to add as well.
9/17/2012 First Visit
Mission Chinese is a rather low key new hot spot in an Orchard St basement. One could easily pass right by. The entrance is a classic Chinatown-type take-out storefront with a large illuminated menu. A small sign says ‘Wait 2B Seated’. A host appears from behind a curtain. The walk to the dining room of Mission Chinese Food passes through some pretty grungy hallway space, past the open counter kitchen and through to a rather quaint little dining space.
The bar seats 4-5 uncomfortably and there are visible tap systems quite like a backyard patio with some pretty lowbrow bar stools. The table setup is sort of cute and there’s a large fabric dragon hanging from the ceiling. It definitely has a real China vibe. Nothing fancy, a tad dirty…
But the food is another thing entirely. This is absolutely the most amazing Chinese I’ve had to include in China. Or damn close anyway! Also, the bartender was so helpful and really gracious.
Sichuan Pickled Vegetables for $4
Nappa Cabbage, Carrot, Chili Oil, Sichuan Pepper, Beer
One Fire Symbol for Hotness…
I so enjoyed this dish. It was reminiscent of kimchee to me with Nappa cabbage. But less fermented, more fresh. Spicy, but not overbearing in any way. And not mentioned in the ingredients are peanuts. Fun to pick up with chopsticks. Good practice.
Thrice Cooked Bacon $11.50
Shanghainese Rice Cakes, Tofu Skin, Bitter Melon, Chili Oil
Two Fire Symbols for Hotness…
This was off the charts! It had some heat, but such a nice heat. The little rice cakes had a pasta-like consistency and just drank up the sauce and the smokey bacon flavor. Tofu skin did the same. I will eat this every time I go back.
Mongolian Long Beans. $12
Roasted Chili, Horseradish, Chili Oil
Two Fire Symbols for Hotness…
Ok, this one kicked my butt. I went too far with the hot and maybe needed something to cut the heat. It was a giant pile of beans with some sautéed onion and roasted chili peppers. It was an addictive dish. More, more, more until the sweat breaks out. Fantastic. This is the pile of peppers I picked out…
It has been several months, but Mission Chinese has been on my mind. Since my first visit was a Sunday at noon and there was nobody there, my strategy was the same for this time around. While it was much busier – we did wait in a short line out front, it still was not as bad as the night lines.
We were seated in a nice corner table, so I had a much better view of the interior than from the bar last time. I would describe the decor as lowbrow backyard patio.
Ok, so it is a bit of a hipster lowbrow patio as evidenced by the ‘Treat yo self to a shot of Fernet $8’ instead of ‘Treat yo self to a shot of Jagermeister $6’!
I felt it necessary to repeat the Thrice Cooked Bacon from the first visit just because it was so damn great. I will say the portion the second time around was slightly smaller. Not complaining, it was far too large the first. It was not as firey hot either, which was a relief. While I enjoy the burn and the sweat, I made more balanced choices!
First, a Michelada with a baby Bud is what I thought would be an excellent pairing with my food. Steve made the better choice with a Six Points Crisp. The Michelada has a brutal rim spice. But if you want hot all around, this is your beverage.
We went with one starter only, as they are all items served cold and we just walked 2.5 miles in 30 degree weather. A pot of tea would have been a wise choice!
Tingly Smoked Chicken $9.50
Chili Sediment, Sichuan Pepper, Black Vinegar & Peanuts
Two fire symbols
This dish was great, but a bit too large of a serving for a small plate. It was larger than the large plates we had to follow. The tingly part sets in after about 5 minutes. I was ready for a flavor change the minute the other dishes began to arrive. This would be one item I would not order again.
Stir Fried Pork Jowl with Radishes $11
Fermented Black Bean, Shiso & Mint
This was my favorite dish. The radishes were lightly stir fried and still crispy. The whole thing was in a nice gravy. I could have eaten the entire dish!
Egg Egg Noodles $12
Soft Hen Egg, Ginger, Scallion (Dine In Only)
This was a pretty sweet dish as well. The portion of noodles is HUGE and should be shared for sure. It was not a noodle soup. The poached egg, ginger and scallion are served on the top and there is liquid in the bottom. They advise you to stir the ingredients up before eating.
I am looking forward to the next visit. We saw a table get the Sizzling Cumin Lamb Breast, which looked out of this world. And of course the chicken wings and ramen look great too, but with all of the choices seem a bit pedestrian! But to say the least there are about 6 more things that look amazing.
If you go in the winter, especially early in the day, take a wrap ladies. The chill of the night before still hangs in the room. I am sure once things are hopping it gets a bit warmer.
154 Orchard Street – Lower East Side