February 13, 2012, 6:30 pm
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Mission Chinese Food, a dive that is one of the most talked-about restaurants in San Francisco, is opening on the Lower East Side.
In a telephone interview, Danny Bowien, the chef, who is still in San Francisco and preparing to leave on a trip to Sichuan province, said the New York restaurant, which is taking over the Rhong Tiam Garden location at 154 Orchard Street (Stanton Street), should open in the spring. The cooks from the San Francisco restaurant will come to New York to work on a rotating basis.
“We could have opened another one here in San Francisco, but I love New York, the way it pushes you.” Mr. Bowien said. “It inspires me so I wanted to come to New York.”
He said the menu would be similar to that in the original restaurant, where the food is recognizably Chinese and reasonably priced ($3 to $12) but decidedly eclectic. Smoked beef brisket soup noodles, ma po tofu,salt cod fried rice with escolar confit and Chinese sausage, Shanghainese chow mein, and chilled buckwheat noodles with ham broth and salted trout roe give you some idea. Mr. Bowien said the menu was most influenced by the food of the North and Northwest of China.
“We’re creative with it as long as the price point is right,” he said.
Writing about the San Francisco restaurant in The New York Times Magazine, Mark Bittman said, “The ingredients are top-notch, often local or organic.”
“At the menu’s core,” he wrote, “is a handful of slow-cooked meat dishes, some of which involve four or five cooking techniques and begin in the smoker, like kung pao corned beef and thrice-cooked bacon tossed with duk (Korean rice cakes), bitter melon and tofu skin. I’m not the first to compare all this to the famed Momofuku in New York.”
The restaurant’s name has to do not only with the location of the restaurant, but also with the way it works. It exists in an everyday Chinese restaurant, Lhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifung Shan in San Francisco’s Mission District. Seventy-five cents from the price of every dish is donated to the Food Bank, the mission of the restaurant. Mr. Bowien, who is moving to New York, said that here, 75 cents from every food and drink item would be donated to a charity yet to be determined.
“Donating to charity is our biggest goal,” he said. “We have no fine-dining aspirations.”
Mission Chinese Food website
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