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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.