Tonight I tried takeout from Mission Chinese Food, the brand new permanent restaurant in the old Lung Shan location, where the twice-weekly Mission Street Food used to be, after much chatter on Eater SF (http://sf.eater.com/archives/2010/07/...) .
Mission Chinese Food continues the Mission Street Food style of a short menu, applied to traditional Chinese regional dishes and mash-ups. They opened on Monday and offer eat-in, take-out, and delivery. Picking up our dinner at 7 pm, only two tables in the restaurant were occupied. The menu is available at www.missionchinesefood.com .
We had five dishes, and I'll refer to the numbers on the website's menu. From my favorite on down:
Salt Cod Fried Rice (#6) -- though too much rice relative to everything else for my taste, I liked the balance of the salty fish and the sweet sausage, will enough egginess to pull the dish together. Perhaps a little dry, but quite flavorful. I did not like the spears of barely cooked ginger; more on this problem below.
Peking Duck Chinito (#1) -- a mash-up of Peking duck (duck, hoisin, cucumber) and the rice-noodle-wrapped donut snack, with the Peking duck stuffed into the donut. A noo-duck-nut? I liked the spicy-sweet hoisin and the rich duck, though the donut was too heavy to have in the same bite as duck. This would have been better immediately after prep rather than taken home and eaten 15 minutes later.
Braised Mongolian Beef Cheek (#5) -- the cheek lacked any textural integrity and was almost as slippery and formless as the chow fun noodles it came with. Perhaps roasting the cheeks before braising would have held them together better? Good beefy flavor with lots of collagen to create a lip-sticking sauce, though too salty. The menu promised fresh horseradish, which I didn't detect.
Baby Choy Sum (#8) with optional country ham. Clean, straightforward, dull. Would have been underseasoned without the optional ham.
Ma Po Tofu (#3) -- I wanted serious ma la, and the Eater SF interview promised "fiery". Really? The chili oil was minimally hot, with a weak Sichuan peppercorn or two thrown in. Many spears of undercooked ginger threw the dish off and overwhelmed the little chili heat and numbing spice there was. Quite disappointing.
Overall, our meal was OK. I'm glad to have fried rice left over, but not sure whether to eat or toss out the remaining half of ma po tofu. The meal was good value, with dishes in the $7-10 range and one per person sufficient for a meal. The Mission lacks good Chinese options, so it's a good neighborhood spot, but no reason to try it if Chinatown, the Richmond, the Sunset, or the Peninsula is closer. I'm puzzled by the aggressive use of ginger, and I wonder if the chef was so conscious of not making the dishes Americanized-Chinese-level sweet that in holding back on sugar they compensated with the sweet-spicy-heat of ginger instead. I think most dishes could have used more sugar to balance flavors, especially in the ma po tofu and braised beef cheeks.
2234 Mission Street, west side, just south of 18th
11 am - 10:30 pm every day
unsure about delivery area
Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110