Yes, one is Soul Food and the other is Chinese- so why lump them both together in a review? Well, because the two of them feature two of my favorite (yet seemingly impossible to find done CORRECTLY) chicken dishes on earth: fried chicken and General Tso's chicken.
First to Mitchell's: the fried chicken that I took home was simply not good. I realize that the very act of taking it home can hurt the quality, but still- I've taken fried chicken home before and eaten it, and, if done in a timely matter, the travel time doesn't make all THAT much of a difference.
Anyway- the chicken looked good but was really dry and not at all flavorful. After what I'd heard before (about how good their fried chicken is) I was hopeful but was really disappointed.
The place itself is totally cool- and the people working there friendly, etc. (it's like getting food in the basement of a church), but I'd be lying if I said I liked the chicken. Also- the sides that I had were really lacking- the mac 'n cheese was bland and the cornbread was dry, crumbly, and not very well made. The potato salad was quite good, but still- overall, the food just wasn't good. The fried chicken was a 5 on a scale of one to ten.
Now- please don't think I'm trying to slag this place off just for the sake of criticizing it- I wrestled with the idea of even writing this mini-review because I happen to love/appreciate mom 'n pop places such as this one and as such am totally rooting for this place to succeed. However, it just wasn't up to par- and I'm not going to give it a break simply because it's owned and operated by minorities. The fried chicken came HIGHLY recommended and it was not praiseworthy in any way.
Of course, all restaurants have their bad nights (even though this was a busy Saturday evening), and I WILL give it another shot and duly write my review as soon as I'm done. Also- please note that I didn't have any other main dishes, so I'm not commenting on ALL of Mitchell's wares. The stuff I did have, however, was simply not well executed.
As for Red Hot II: I had the General Tso's chicken there for the first time (again: takeout) and I have to say that it was the best GTC I've had in NYC thus far; in fact, it was the closest thing I've yet had to the life-alteringingly-good version served at Tai Chi on Polk Street in San Francisco.
It was sweet, crispy, savory, golden brown, and wonderful. And(!!)- there was a noticeable dearth of the (unfortunately) all-too typical General Tso's chicken piece- you know, the one wherein the diner feels as if he or she is chewing on a rope- the one where after chewing and chewing the diner spits the stringy remainder into a napkin.
Nope- this was smooooooth-sailing General Tso's- the kind where the extra rice is used to soak up the remaining sauce General Tso's.
I intend to order it again- and- if it's as good as the version I had two days ago- 1) Red Hot II will be dutifully added to the speed dial lineup, and, 2) the elliptical machine at the gym will be getting thirty (instead of twenty) minutes of my time by way of aerobic compensation.
A Tai-Chi-esque version of the General- residing within delivery-distance of me- is actually quite dangerous. Indeed, neither my heart nor my arteries is very happy about this latest development.
Still- it could've just been luck, or a mirage, or a wonderful dream. We shall see...