Tag Archives: dumplings

Mission Chinese: Sichuan Cuisine Survives on the Lower East Side

Mission Chinese Food, which opened in 2012, serves spicy Sichuan-inspired cuisine; the restaurant has had lines out the door pretty much since opening.

And then in 2013, the restaurant was shut down due to sanitation issues.

But it’s been a while since then, so I cautiously ventured down to the Lower East Side with a friend to indulge in some chili-doused chicken wings. We hadn’t made a reservation, and at first it seemed we would have to wait. But there was an area in the front where they serve the whole menu, and we’re not picky sitters.

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Since it’s Sichuan-inspired cuisine (Sichuan is the province with the spiciest cuisine in China), we figured we had to order several spicy dishes, and balance it out with a couple of milder dishes.

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matcha noodles

The first dish we got was the green tea noodles. This was probably my favorite of the things we ordered; the bitterness of the matcha contrasts spectacularly with the savory noodles and sweet hoisin sauce. The crunch of the thinly sliced radish adds a textural contrast in comparison to the soft ramen.

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rice cakes with thrice-cooked bacon and tofu skins

Mission Chinese seems to have textural components of their food down. Chewy, starchy rice cakes, crunchy cucumber, fatty, soft bacon; all doused in a super-spicy, umami, garlicky sauce. Top it with raw scallions and cilantro and you have a winner.

chicken wings
chicken wings

The chicken wings were so good, but they were far too spicy for me. I had one; my friend had five. Imagine: delicious chicken wings, with a nice crispy skin; then imagine dumping an entire container of chili flakes on them. Wonderful, but dangerous.

pork belly and radishes
pork belly and radishes

If pork belly is on a menu, I can’t not order it. This was the other non-spicy dish; I thought the mint didn’t go so well with the pork belly and radish, but besides that the dish was excellent. A light, sweet sauce cut was with the slight bitterness of greens. The pork belly was soft, and the radishes added a nice crunch.

And then—a complimentary treat!

dumplings!
dumplings!

These were not spicy, and they were a perfect bite at the end of the meal. Spinach, egg, and (I think) tapioca. An interesting combination, but it worked.

The bathroom is in the basement. One must walk past the kitchen in order to get to it. The kitchen was filled with shouts of “hot!” “order in!” and “yes, chef!”

There’s nothing like a fast-paced, energetic kitchen to get the blood pumping and get a diner looking forward to a meal. Go to Mission Chinese. Even if there’s a wait. You won’t regret it—though your mouth might after a couple of chicken wings.

Mission Chinese,

171 E Broadway

Atmosphere: Young, hip, upbeat.

Noise Level: Loud.

Recommended Dishes: green tea noodles, pork belly and radishes

Price Range: $$

Hours: 5:30–12, Tues-Sat; 5:30-11, Sun–Mon.

 

 

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Try Thai!

One of my dreams is to go to Bangkok, a known food capital of the world. I remember the first time I tried Thai food (of course I was having Pad Thai), I immediately loved the fresh flavors and the mix of savory and sweet found in each bite. I try to seek out traditional and delicious Thai restaurants, but I know none can come to close to anything I would have if I were to visit Bangkok. So hopefully one day I will be able to visit, and even write a blog on it!

Thai food is very aromatic and full of spice and flavor. Each dish usually incorporates a blend of at least three taste senses: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, and bitter. Each of the four regions of Thailand has their own kind of cuisine. Thai food also shares similarities with the cuisines of its neighboring Southeast Asian countries. In fact, many dishes in Thailand came from China, but, over time, Thai cuisine has developed its own unique flavors and preparations. Today, Thai cuisine is one of the most popular around the world.

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Thus, it is no surprise that I found an abundance of Thai restaurants while in Hell’s Kitchen. I do not at all regret my choice to go to the cozy Pure Thai Cookhouse. The delicious meal is very much worth the 15-minute wait. We began our meal with the daily steamed dumpling special. They were stuffed with chicken, crab, and shrimp. They were delicious with a firm filling that kept the taste of the shrimp and crab (the chicken helped to keep the filling together) and the dipping sauce to dip them in was even better – a salty and vinegary sauce with chili flakes to add spice. Along with the dumplings we ordered fried tofu with a peanut and tamarind dipping sauce. The tofu without the sauce lacked a bit of flavor, but the sauce with its crushed peanuts made the dish worth ordering. This dish was the only one that we ordered that was subpar, but the sauce is definitely worth asking for on the side. It has the characteristic mix of salty, sweet, and sour that is typical of many Thai dishes. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get any pictures of these two dishes, because we were to eager to begin.

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Next, we ordered wok curry paste with pork, pad see ew with beef, and ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles. Each dish had its own blend of flavors and each was better than the next. The wok curry paste with pork included a spicy sauce that was not spicy at first, but lingered and became spicier over time. It included a variety of different textured vegetables (bamboo shoot, thai eggplant, and string bean) that balanced well with the pork.

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The pad see ew was a sweet and salty compliment to the curry. The flat noodles were drenched in the brown sauce with pieces of scrambled eggs and broccoli, cauliflower, and beans. The crunchiness of the cauliflower and broccoli countered the softness and slipperiness of the noodles so that it did not become too overwhelming. Cauliflower is not often added to pad see ew dishes. It was a nice addition, but the broccoli does a better job of absorbing the sauce.

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The ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles had the simplest flavor, mostly sweet, but were made with delicious homemade noodles. It included big pieces of crab and pork loin. It was hard to eat these together with the noodles, but all of individual pieces were so good.

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Overall the meal was absolutely delicious, and I will definitely go back to Pure Thai Cookhouse sometime soon!