Just try to find Mission Chinese Food. Go ahead. Well I suppose if you are not much of an adventurer and have your iPhone handy, you won’t get lost, or confused. But I tend to travel techless and I’m here to tell you that there is no sign on Mission Street that says “Mission Chinese Food”. Luckily my friend R. was with me.
People go ga-ga over this place.
My friend R. was in town and we were headed for lunch – from what I hear, this is actually the best time to hit Mission Chinese given that it is so popular for dinner. He hadn’t been to San Francisco for a while and he got it in his head that we were going to lunch and we were going to go here and nowhere else. It’s one of his favorites. I’m along for the ride because I love him and want to spend time with my pal, he is hungry, I’m hungry.
I was a little worried because, as a vegetarian/sometimes vegan, and someone who doesn’t eat much in one sitting, this place has not been on my go to list for rice and veg, or for traditional “I don’t need a menu” ordering.
Mission Chinese Food is on Mission Street between 18th and 19th and lives as a hipster restaurant within a dive restaurant. When it comes to eating out, the divier the better, I say. The sign outside refers to “Lung Shan Restaurant”, which sounds like an ordinary enough Chinese restaurant, but Mission Chinese Food is no ordinary Chinese restaurant. The story goes that both restaurants operate together, with two different cooks in the kitchen. Who you pay is up to which menu you order off of. But once inside I was under the impression that Lung Shan was just the storefront now. There was only one menu. It’s a mystery until I go back again.
I remember when it first opened it seemed that it was very meat-centric, if I am remembering correctly. Maybe not, Maybe that was just my impression. But this is, after all, an eatery that hits you as you enter with a sign on the door saying that they are serving up the Kung Pao Pastrami Burritos …
I admit that I did not get to dive deep into the menu on just this one visit. I ordered off of the Small Plates menu and had only the Fresh Rice Noodles slathered in a yummy Peanut Sauce, with Tofu Skin, Pickled Mustard Greens, and Sliced Cucumbers. It was a cold noodle salad, which I love in general, and it was quite tasty. My only complaint was that many of the wide noodles were stuck together, so I spent quite a bit of time prying them apart to get them slathered in sauce, and that should have been done in the kitchen. The dish could have also been served with five times the toppings – more of the tofu skin and pickled mustard greens as well as the sliced cucumber, which actually could have taken this dish from being just really good to over the top.
R. seemed to fancy his Salt Cod Fried Rice and row of Tea Smoked Eel. The fried rice smelled awesome. And R. was very disappointed that I couldn’t give in and try the Tea Smoked Eel.
Would I eat here again? There are three more dishes I would like to try – the Ma Po Tofu (Veg version) and the Forbidden Rice and the Spicy Chow Mein (Veg version) – before answering that question.
Anyone up for going?
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Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110