Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mission Chinese

Kung pao pastrami, Mission Chinese

It's still early and, well, no one's asked us, but we're certain that the kung pao pastrami at Mission Chinese will rank high among our top bites of 2012. Maybe even the decade. Oh, yeah, it's that effin good, a complete and utter reinvention of the kung pao chicken so many of us grew up eating, a sweet, salty, spicy surprise, and an excellent example of what comes out of Danny Bowien's kooky kitchen.

Yes, the lines are long at Mission Chinese, but they're worth it. Totally, completely, can-we-please-come-back-tomorrow worth it. The Lower East Side restaurant specializes in what Bowien has termed "Americanized Oriental food." There's fried rice with salt cod, mapo tofu with pork shoulder, salt & pepper shrimp with fennel, the familiar rendered un- thanks to new ingredients. Going to a (overly) hyped restaurant and discovering that it deserves every lick of attention warms our jaded blogging hearts.

Buried beneath the scallions below were Sichuan pickles, and they were fine fine fine, but not as good as the dan dan noodles (bottom). At first, their coolness simply complimented the pastrami, providing a respite from the other dish's insane spice-a-thon. Over time, though, as the peanut sauce soaked into the meaty yuba (tofu skin), as the preserved mustard stems and pea leaves spread about the buckwheat noodles, this dish began elbowing the pastrami aside, demanding its share of the spotlight. We'll just stop off at Home Depot on the way home, and buy a few more bulbs. A massive spotlight, big enough for this and those and so much more, might make the world a happier place.

Sichuan pickles, Mission Chinese

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