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Mission Chinese Food

Restaurants, Contemporary Asian Two Bridges
3 out of 5 stars
Mission Chinese Food
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Friendly warning! We're working hard to be accurate. But these are unusual times, so please check that venues remain open.

At his Mission Chinese redux, Danny Bowien has traded in beer kegs, paper dragons and a cramped, dive-punk Orchard Street basement for smart cocktails, banquet-hall booths and an ample, gleaming dining room in the far reaches of Chinatown.

That inescapable hour-long wait for a table can be spent in the downstairs bar, but the real party is upstairs—a lively hodgepodge of bespectacled food disciples and beanie-clad millennials spinning lazy Susans loaded with pork cheeks and turnip cakes while golden-age hip-hop pumps through the room. It’s a rollicking good time, sure, but a wildly inconsistent one. The Scoville-crushing chicken wings have retained their unmerciful, skin-rippling heat, but other Bowien-fan favorites have had their burners turned down: The kung pao pastrami is a flickering flame compared to the four-alarm-chili roar it once was.

The menu expands from those oldies with 30-plus new dishes, many of which show Bowien—with executive chef Angela Dimayuga—hasn’t wholly lost his edge. A tin of anchovies, served with tartine flatbread blistered by a wood oven inherited from former tenant Rosette, packs a power punch of pickled chili and crunchy fennel seed. It’s salty, spicy and impossible to stop picking at.

The whole-smoked pork jowl is over-the-top lardy—one bite satisfies your fat quota for the day. Better are the Jurassic salt-and-pepper lamb rib tips, soft and lax on the bone. Slick a piece of flatbread with kefir crème fraîche, then pile on a few shreds of lamb and a zippy bread-and-butter pickle—it’s Mission-gone-Moroccan, and staunchly, singularly Bowien.

Point of view has never been the chef’s problem—he’s got personality in spades. But that freewheeling, dip-a-toe gumption often translates to a lack of focus. There’s simply too much going on here: a sea-urchin-stocked raw bar, a roaming prime-rib cart and, most egregiously, pizza—a soggy, passable pie added to the menu simply because of that wood oven’s existence. The old idiom applies: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

By: Christina Izzo



Address: 171 East Broadway
New York
Cross street: between Jefferson and Rutgers Sts
Transport: Subway: F to East Broadway
Price: Average price: $15. AmEx, MC, V
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 5:30pm–midnight
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