There is no getting around it: from the kitschy Chinese decor, to the music, to the servers, Mission Chinese Food is a hipster joint. This had me worried that the food would prove to be style over taste. Fortunately, Mission Chinese Food put a different spin on Chinese dishes that remained respectful of tradition.
As a fan of Chicken Fried Rice with Salted Fish, the Salt Cod Fried Rice was a natural choice. This version consisted of mackerel confit, Chinese sausage, lettuce, egg in fried rice. It turns out that serving fresh salted fish in fried rice is just as delicious, and integrates better with the other ingredients.
Another familiar dish we ordered was the Ma Po Tofu. This version was vegetarian with braised shiitakes, aged chilli paste, sichuan pepper, and scallions. It was the biggest disappointment of the night. The spiciness was overwhelming, while the sourness was too strong. I also missed the bamboo shoots that usually add an important texture and flavour element to the dish.
In a bid to try something different, we ordered the Stir-Fried Squid Ink Noodles with chopped lamb, cumin, fennel, harissa, and yogurt loosely mixed in. Initially, the smell of the dish was pungent enough to cause pause; this dish is not for those who dislike lamb. However, once I tried it, I couldn’t stop eating. The highlight was the squid-ink noodles, which were black, but tasted like regular noodles with a smoky finish.
Lastly, we had the Tiki Pork Belly, which was cooked in soy caramel, mandarin orange, pickled pineapple, shaved coconut, and macadamia nuts. The pork was perfectly cooked being crispy of the outside, soft and fatty on the inside. Surprisingly, the sweetness was not overwhelming.
The only part of meal that I found incongruous with real Chinese food was the bill. $60 for four dishes?! Only in my parents’ nightmares.
★ ★ ★ ★
Mission Chinese Food, 2234 Mission St., San Francisco, California
Dined July 2014 – Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다