A quick search on the boards for MSF or Lung Shan returned no hits for this recent phenomenon - a chinese restaurant that rents its space every Thursday to a different local or international chef.
Someone point me to the posts. In the meantime, my thoughts about last night's meal:
John Farais was the chef last night, and I hadn't done any research before I arrived at 5pm to get in line. There were two people ahead of me; fifteen mintues later there were 40 people behind me. The hostess took names and assigned tables while we waited and everything was well organized and romantically lit when we were finally let inside.
The menu, though difficult to see due to the dim candlelight, was well received by diners, many of whom appeared to order one of everything. With nine main courses to pick from (all portioned as small bites) this was the direction I leaned towards, but reconsidered with my companion when we saw the food arriving at other tables.
Bison Stew was described as having bison, acorn flour, field onions, juniper berries, dried fruit and diced tomatoes. A few bites of it and I looked at my companion and asked if he thought they had used a smoked salt to finish the stew. He agreed that there must be some cause for this abrupt and unmistakable smoky flavor. We ate, gingerly, giving the chef the benefit of the doubt, but after some time and a few more bites, I had to ask. The waitress looked puzzled, "no, he doesn't use smoked salt. But, let me ask anyway." Another waitress confirmed this answer, at which point it dawned on me: somone forgot to stir the pot, the stew scorched and ... they served it anyway.
Nupa (acorn soup with foraged mushrooms) tasted like so many of those bad descriptions of truffles. Earthy, but in a dirt meets mud meets damp leaves kind of way. I have seen acorn used successfully. This soup, however, was inedible.
Duck confit with strawberries sounded stranger than it was. Though the strawberries weren't pickled as the menu claimed, they were delicious, juicy, bright and a fulfilling accessory to rich duck confit. Sorrel creme fraiche rounded out the French meets Native American dish.
I cancelled the order of Mussels with Black Walnut Broth after we received the Nupa because, well, one can only imagine what seafood cooked in a bitter nut broth might taste like, and I suddenly craved dim sum and a beer.
The service was smooth. The company great. The atmosphere easy and comfortable. The line out the door, endless. My recommendation is anyone interested in going to MSF, especially if you're coming from out of town, do your research ahead of time and be sure you have a good idea of the kinds of food that are on offer. Though this is a Chinese restaurant every other night of the week, you can't order Chinese on Thursdays.