Mission Chinese, the hipster Chinese spot that finally reopened in the old Rosette space far downtown, has always seemed a little overrated to me. While I do love that Kung Pao Pastrami and Salt Cod Fried Rice, that Mapo Tofu has caused me to sweat my face off. People wait in line for hours to try some of Danny Bowien’s cooking, and the public talks about the restaurant as if it’s life changing- which I didn’t agree with until the new space reopened. First of all, this space is gorgeous making it feel more of an actual restaurant than the previous Orchard St. location which was a cramped hole-in-the-wall. The deep, red leather booths and white brick walls are inviting and trendy yet low key and classy. The room is wide open but in a nicely sized space that no matter where you sit, you can see the whole dining room and what guests are eating. For example, cronut master Dominique Ansel sat across the room from us and boy did he look happy chowing down. Mission Chinese was luckily gifted a pizza oven that Rosette left and Bowien takes full advantage of this by offering bread service with a salted kefir butter. Don’t be too proud to pay for bread. It’s delicious, round, doughy and the perfect way to start the meal since Chinese food never uses bread. The butter is to die for, creamy and almost milky. You’ll keep dipping your dough in here until it’s gone. They also bring every table complimentary vegetable dumplings which I would say are not as nice of a treat as you’d hope. Skip these.
The Broccoli Beef Brisket with Smoked Oyster Sauce and Flax Seeds is some of the best brisket I’ve ever had. It reminds me of a Jewish mother’s brisket during the holidays and even Texas BBQ brisket. The face that it’s paired with Asian flavors and broccoli makes this one of the best meals to order here. It’s tender, juicy and it can easily split in half with your fork. I could have eaten this dish all to myself, and this is meat is the reason why I have a new found love for Mission Chinese. Even if nothing else was good this brisket made made me a believer. The Coconut Lobster Fried Rice could last you for days. It’s a heaping pile of rice and the top coat is very sweet and has a little crunch due to the crisped coconut. Even if you are not a coconut lover you will like this. It’s also not as moist as other coconut rice dishes I’ve had elsewhere. I also very much appreciated the lobster portion. What a treat. Other fried rice options include the Salt Cod Fried Rice that I loved in the past and a new Beef Jerky Fried Rice which should be interesting.
Vegetables are served by the pound and the Black Kale and Pea Greens in a bone marrow broth with “healthy” grains that looked like farro is a perfect side dish. It’s light, leafy and feels good. The Nappa Cabbage is steamed in Chamomile and Masala Milk making it a creamier and less healthy green option.
Other new and fun things are the family dishes which have limited availability each night. This includes a House Special Chicken for $60, Duck in a Lotus Leaf that’s cracked at the table for $70 and a Smoked Prime Rib garnished with a King Crab Leg. What’s truly amazing are the two prix-fixe options. Dinner A for $69 pp has a cold appetizer, hot appetizer, salad, noodles, mapo, rice, choice of pork jowl or fried chicken, bacon, vegetable, soup and dessert. I mean sounds like a party to me! The $99 prix-fixe options comes with most of these things plus a cocktail cart and instead of pork jowl or fried chicken you can order the prime rib or special chicken. What’s cool about this restaurant is that you can dress up for date night here or just swing in casually. Now, if only they took reservations, you could book this night of a lifetime immediately. The only way around the wait is to go around 5:30 p.m. or suck it up and wait your turn by hanging out at the bar until you are seated. Either way, I am telling you, Mission Chinese is now worth the talk.