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
Goody Goodie a stellar place to get your cookie fix, having in fact won top honors from SFWeekly, but what you may not know is that you’ll also find wonderful sandwiches there at lunch time. The type of sandwich varies from day to day, depending on what is fresh and local, and available at the nearby farmer’s markets. Owner Remi is a foodie of the first order, so you’ll find wonderful combinations of fresh fruit, meats, and artisanal cheeses all layered in her homemade rolls. Pictured here, my sandwich is made with elephant plums, piave cheese (a hard, nutty cheese) and prociutto! And it was so good, I’d never heard of piave cheese in fact, but the strong bite of it paired very well with the sweetness of the plums and saltiness of the prosciutto. Combining flavor profiles in this way (and probably with an artisanal cheese) is Remi’s signature style, so you can expect something unique and surprising on your visit, too.
Remi knows her wine, so I’m certain she’ll be more than happy to suggest a pairing for your sandwich if you ask!
Currently, Goody Goodie operates out of a salon at 1247 Folsom Street (between 8th and 9th) so service is to-go, not dine-in.
But just wait, because dine-in possibilities are on the horizon. Remi is nearing completion (early October) on a new cafe @ 1830 Harrison Street (between 14th and 15th, near the Best Buy) to be called, Starstream. Watch this space for details!
1246 Folsom St
(between 9th St & 8th St)
San Francisco, CA 94103
My favorite sushi restaurants, Eiji and Minako, are distinguished not only by the highest quality fish but also the intimate, authentic sincerity of the restaurant spaces themselves. Both are family run neighborhood haunts and you will feel as if you’re a guest in the home of the chef when you dine at either one. Yes, you can find many more great sushi restaurants in San Francisco but in my opinion, the inviting character of these two set them apart from the rest. I’ve copied my reviews from Yelp.com below…
317 Sanchez St
(between 16th St & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
“5 star experience, every time. When you find a place that consistently serves up a great experience, it just keeps you coming back. This is a staple whenever we have guests in from out-of-town. You know the scenario, the guest wants to go ‘somewhere off the beaten path’, following that true ‘insider’s tip’. This is that place . . .impossibly cute, very authentic and always, always good. And, very “OFF” the beaten path . . .
Yes the sushi melts in your mouth, yes you’ll find some stuff you don’t always find in other sushi restaurants (note the loving tribute to tofu on the first page of the menu, and a few very varied and good offerings of same). . .try the whitefish carpaccio, thinly sliced white fish on a drizzle of olive oil, with tomatoes. . . yum.
For the singles out there, it’s not just for guests, this would be a very special (and CUTE) first-date place. (Impress him/her with your exquisite knowledge of the neighborhood dining scene, and unpretentious taste)
And the staff are just so nice.
2154 Mission St
(between 18th St & Clarion Alley)
San Francisco, CA 94110
“Last night my partner and I had dinner here for the first time and I have to say it was among the best meal experiences we’ve had all year. From the food to the joy of getting to know the vibe of this neighborhood haunt, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves from start to finish.
We wanted to try a new sushi place and given it was Earth Day, Organic seemed particularly appropriate. We’d heard great things about Minako so our choice was made. The food didn’t disappoint. Seafood salad was the best I’ve had. The sushi is exquisitely prepared (with brown rice. Interesting!) and every detail was right, down to the fresh, brightness of the pickled ginger and wasabi. The care they take was evident in the attentiveness of the server who actually explained the servings are large (they are) and actually advised us to order LESS. How often does that happen? She cared about our experience of the food.
The restaurant traffic was light so we also had the chance to talk to our server, about local food, even the music playing in the restaurant, and had the best time. We found ‘mom’ is the chef and owner and given this, and the familiarity the staff had with others in the restaurant (which is small) it was so evident this is a true neighborhood spot. They staff will remember you, and treat you as if you’re in their home. And I really appreciated that.”
Lest you think I write only about cupcakes and succulents, let me assure you I do have other areas of expertise as well. Case in point last Thursday, when my quest for an impeccable dining experience took me far afield of this fair city, over The Bridge to our Sister in the East. This was the night of a celebratory dinner and as such, only the Best would do. Something even more special than special. That night, only the BEST BURGER IN THE BAY would do! And the best burger is True.
Certainly, the True Burger itself merits a glowing report here. Simply prepared with the highest quality ingredients, it is the purest expression of all-that-is-good-in-a-burger that I’ve found. And the fries. They ‘re cooked perfectly! Every time. And the service is gracious.
But, if this was the only story to tell of this night, I’d simply direct you to my Yelp.com review here, and that would be that. There’s more~
The best part of the evening was that it became an exponent of that last Yelp review, a confirmation of what inspired me to give them 5 stars. When I stepped up to the counter to order, the same lovely woman greeted me as the last time I was there one month ago. She greeted me by name. Unsure of sure how she pulled this one off ((Again, I was there over a month ago!)) she helped me out. She recognized me from my picture on Yelp. And she’d found that photo because I’d written a review following the True Burger visit last month. I’d had such a fun experience between the good food and chatting with staff that I had to write about it, so it was very sweet to find out that the folks at True Burger not only had found my post, but remembered my visit, too, and appreciated it. In my book, this attests to the esteem in which they hold their customers. And, man, what an interconnected world we live in! Two people can have a spontaneous conversation in a restaurant, and that is all it takes for them to find each other again in cyberspace, at any time in the future. It was a lovely moment and one that made me smile.
And the food was awesome.
:: UPDATE ::
Just found this exceptional review of True Burger here. See? I’m not the only one who loves this place. And what a great blog! If you’re into Hamburgers you’ll have to check it out.