Szechuan pickles (from delivery).
Thrice-cooked bacon (from delivery).
Ma po tofu (delivery).
The quirky interior (where it’s always Christmas).
Excuse me, what? My eyes are tearing up so much that I can’t hear you. No, I don’t know why that is happening. All I know is I can’t get enough of the tingling sensations I get every time I eat at ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~, and I’m not talking about the Good Vibrations kind. It’s more about the magically numbing Sichuan peppercorn making appearances in the vast majority of the deeelicious menu items here, along with fragrant star anise, cumin, and coriander in the kitchen’s trademark spice mix. There is nothing shy about the flavors coming out of the kitchen, so buckle up.
Chef Danny Bowien and business partner Anthony Myint expanded their previous twice-a-week Mission Street Food venture held at the Lung Shan restaurant—a dingy and sleepy Chinese restaurant—into a nightly venture that is unlike any other setup I’ve heard of, because there is one kitchen but two teams and two menus: the Lung Shan menu, and Mission Chinese Food’s (with about 13 dishes in all). Bowien has basically taken a variety of Chinese dishes, executions, and ingredients, and given them a San Francisco top-shelf spin, like using Benton’s bacon for the thrice-cooked bacon ($9). The menu changes so often that I hate to get you too excited about any one particular thing, and the kitchen is just about to get an upgrade, so I expect even MORE changes.
But some past faves include the slow-cooked and fatty char siu pork belly ($8.50) over silky rice noodles (my friend and I wanted to eat two servings of this dish); and the ma po tofu ($8.50) with Kurobuta pork and fermented black beans brings out the total masochist in me—I can’t stop eating it, even when I can barely feel my face anymore (you can “cool off” with bites of the salt-cod fried rice, $10, rich with chunks of Chinese sausage, black cod, and egg).
Okay, time for more damage, like the freaking HOT fried chicken wings ($8) that come under a blanket of dried peppers (you kind of have to dig around in there to find all seven wings). And the next foggy or sick night, order the tingly lamb noodle soup ($9) for a hearty dish of thick, handmade udon-like noodles, (er, slightly tough) bok choy, and a potent broth that is practically 100-percent lamb drippings. Slurp.
There are also some vegan and vegetarian options, but do note the menu is very meat-driven. Everyone should order the feisty pickles ($3).
And get this—they deliver. All day and night (Mon-Sat 11am-10:30pm, Sun 12pm-10pm). All over the city. And in biodegradable containers, thank you. Granted, I’ve had a few dishes show up a bit lukewarm, but a quick turn in the pan and that creamy Taiwanese eggplant ($8) is on point.
This under-the-radar place reeks of a casual and gritty Mission aesthetic, with most diners looking like they’re straight out of central casting under the glow of Christmas lights, drinking copious amounts of Tsingtaos. A meal here is a steal considering the quality ingredients and technique (and portions), and feels like a wonderful secret. But it shouldn’t be a secret. It’s like the next wave Chinese food I’ve been waiting for. Bring. It. On.
Oh, and let’s not forget a very cool fact: 75 cents from each item is donated to the SF Food Bank.