After reading in The New York Times about the highly anticipated opening of Mission Chinese Food on the Lower East Side, we made it our own “mission” to see what the buzz was all about. Having reviewed the menu beforehand, we knew it was going to be different from your everyday Chinese food. It was the end of the workweek and we were ready for the unexpected.
Anticipating a big dinner crowd, we arrived at Mission at 4:56pm right before the opening time of 5pm, stated on their website. Much to our dismay and grumbling stomachs, an employee outside signing off on a delivery informed us that Mission would not be open until 5:30pm.
The doors finally opened at 5:37pm and we walked in to the sound of Kanye West blasting in the background. One of the employees was also soliciting signatures to help Mission get it’s liquor license, though we couldn’t help the cause as we aren’t residents of the LES. After a brief conversation, we were led down a hallway where we could peek into the kitchen as we approached the somewhat cramped but uniquely decorated seating area. The server came by to take our order quickly and we were ready to dig in!
Smashed Cucumbers in Garlic Sauce (to start)
This tasty appetizer was refreshing and easy on the palate. The flavors weren’t particularly strong, but it was a great way to begin the meal.
Westlake Porridge Bowl (his dish)
Overall taste was good. However it was a bit on the soupy side, as I am accustomed (and prefer) thicker and creamier porridge.
Wild Pepper Leaves (her dish)
This dish was more of a soup than I expected, so the barley rice we ordered on the side provided a nice accompaniment. The greens were delicious, as was the tofu and pumpkin. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as spicy as expected, but that was easily remedied by adding chili peppers. Overall, this was a comforting dish that was tasty during the early summer and would be even better during the cold winter months.
Mapo Tofu (his other dish)
Warning: The two peppers on the menu signify this dish is extremely spicy and it lived up to its billing! I like to think that I can handle the spiciest of foods but this dish proved to be too fiery for my taste buds to handle. Unfortunately, the Mapo Tofu left my tongue numb and my ego a bit bruised. I think I will stick to my dad’s version of Mapo Tofu.
The service was great as all the servers were really nice and attentive. We also like the philanthropy concept at Mission as $.75 from each entree is donated to the Food Bank of NYC. If you are looking for Chinese food that is a bit different, this is definitely a place to check out. Just make sure you taste buds are ready for the challenge!