favorite restaurants in san francisco series, mission chinese food
I’ll say right up front I’ve never been a fan of chinese food, generally speaking. On the whole, the chinese (buffet) food that I’ve had in the past has been heavy: fried, oil-soaked, and drenched in brightly colored syrups that makes everything sort of taste the same. Mission Chinese Food is the opposite of that, and I had a wonderful experience with it!
An article could be written about how this concept even came to be. Responsible for two of the first popular pop-up restaurants in San Francisco, Mission Street Food and Mission Burger, Anthony Myint and Danny Bowein actually operate Mission Chinese Food out of an existing Chinese restaurant, Lung Shan, at specified hours 7 nights a week. MCF shares the dining space and kitchen, and offers its own companion menu to the items Lun Shan already provides. So, if you’re interested in trying MCF, first ensure you’re looking at the Mission Chinese Food menu, and here’s a link to it: (MENU) NOTE: You can order from both menus, of course, but Bowein is the one doing the cooking on the MCF side.
You’ll find novel foods on the menu. Myint says that MCF not only highlights dishes from many regions of China but also incorporates other asian influences as well to create something unique, a kind of “Americanized Oriental Food”. Someone known for his inventive interpretation of foods he loves, Danny Bowein has become a celebrity chef over the last couple years in his own right, and there’s a lot of press about his approach to cooking (beginning with Mission Street Food days and what was my favorite burger in town, the defunct Mission Burger). Bowein’s philosophy not only includes a focus on quality food but providing it at an affordable price, and contributing back to the community through charity, as well.
The Restaurant space: Lung Shan has been around awhile and if you like kitsch by all means, eat here. It’s cheesy. Definitely reflective of the eclectic neighborhood, it’s full of workers’ revolution posters and christmas lights and other items collected over the years. If your Tea Party friends from out-of-town haven’t imploded on their trip to San Francisco by this point, they certainly will here. On my visit, I called ahead and picked up my order rather than eating there, although I think that would have been fun!
shitake and oyster musroom dumplings in miso soup: delicate noodles, full-bodied deep umami flavor of the miso and mushrooms deeply satisfying. Strong notes of chives/spring onion, but not spicy. Nice balance to other dishes.
cumin lamb ribs; very hot and spicy, bright and flavorful. Served on the bone, with lots of peppers. Tender, perfectly cooked meat.
Taiwanese Eggplant (three types of gardlic and hot basil)- again, very spicy and perfectly cooked. A beautiful dish in terms of color and presentation, very bright in terms of flavor.
The Verdict: This is Chinese food I would go back for. Overall the servings were generous and the diversity of flavors and textures made the meal truly interesting from start to finish. No limp, nondescript vegetables with magenta colored sweet and sour sauce here!
INTERESTING FACT: Incidentally, my interaction was with Bowein himself, and I got the impression he’s a hard-working guy– greeting the customer, taking the order and cooking, all himself. And one more thing about Bowein, this guy in his twenties: did you know he took first-place in a world-wide pesto competition, in Genoa, Italy? From burgers, to pesto, to chinese, this is a chef to watch.MISSION CHINESE FOOD Lung Shan Chinese Restaurant
2234 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94110