Mission Chinese, noted as one of the best new restaurants in the U.S., is my very favoritest restaurant in San Francisco. My stomach is a black hole when it comes to chowing down on the salt cod fried rice. I’ve learned my lesson. Going forward, one order for myself, and another for the rest of the table to share.
I was bubbling over with jealousy to discover that the dive was opening up a spot in NYC. When I learned that my trip would coincide with the restaurant’s opening, I had to investigate!
I knew as we turned onto Orchard Street in the Lower East Side exactly where the restaurant was located because people were spilling out of it and hovering in the drizzle outside. I stupidly thought that strolling in at 9pm would secure us a table. Ummm, no.
The young, respectful attendant told us the wait was about an hour and a half, but we were welcome to wait and tap the keg for free beer! Nice! We put our name down along with our cell phone, and returned exactly 90 minutes later. Even without a phone call, I was hopeful. We were up next! Yippee!
Before I progress into our dining experience, I have to mention that unlike the SF location, the NYC spot does take reservations for the bar. When I called they were booked for the night, but could put me down for the following night. I declined because we already had Friday night plans. Free beer and reservations? Already NYC is ahead.
All around, the staff is young, helpful, and friendly. We passed by much-revered Danny Bowien on our way to our table and I gasped, “OmiGod, there’s Danny.” He turned around probably wondering how people know him. Hello? Danny, your name and face is scattered all over the foodie-sphere. You are a food god! We also passed by Aziz Ansari, who ironically, we always cross paths with whenever Dean is in NYC.
Now the food. Well, just like the rest of NYC food (during this trip), a disappointment. I mentioned the distaste I had for NYC cuisine during brunch with Marc and I thought he was going to jump out of his chair and chew me. I’m sorry, but nothing–not even Mission Chinese–was as good as SF. There were only a trifle of things that stood out in terms of food in NYC. 1) Dinner with Care at the Fish Tag–my single amazing meal during the trip, 2) Mission Chinese even though it IS better in SF. 3) The $9.95 Indian Kati roll which is a smorgas of meat and veggies wrapped in a very light pancake roll. 4) The hot dog I got from the stand after exiting the MOMA on 54th Street.
I’ve already mentioned the wine, but given the context, it’s worth pointing out again. Trader Joe’s $2 Buck Chuck, doesn’t matter which one (Syrah, Cab, Merlot, Chardonnay), can beat any glass on any wine list in NYC. No question.
Summary of NYC Mission Chinese:
+ Free Beer
+ Ambience. A much cooler vibe in the LES than the Mission, that’s for sure. I like how the front wait section is separated from the back dining section by the kitchen. And I love that they’ve got a bar area.