Thursday, January 8, 2015

Man With a Mission, Take 2

I was gonna make this pun about a man (Chef Danny Bowien) with a mission, figuring I could tie it to the Elvis Costello song Everyday I Write the Book. Of course you know that song - it has a line which goes: "I'm a man with a mission, in 2 or 3 editions..."

But googling that phrase, it turns out that not only is there a band named Man With a Mission, but everyone from Van Halen to Hall & Oates has used that damn lyric, in one way, shape or form. 

So no pun. And minimal backstory. Because if you don't know the backstory about Mission Chinese Food New York, you've either never read Eater (good for you!) or any of a million other publications which talk food in NYC, or you just don't give a shit (good for you again, I guess). 

Last night, Significant Eater and I ate at the new Mission Chinese Food New York, for the second time since its opening in late December, and last night we had a friend with us, so we were able to sample even more of the menu.

Now, I come to the new MCFNY with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, since its location was the home to a restaurant I really liked (Rosette), with a chef I really like (Nick Curtin). Nick's now cooking in Copenhagen, and Rosette's now just a memory, and I'm not saying a word about that lyric.

I'd rather just remember the delicious food 3 of us consumed last night, and 2 of us had consumed 2 weeks earlier. Cause delicious it was - from a redefined classic or two originally served on Orchard St., to a lamb riblet special that was just great...even though it looked like a Cantonese fried fish when it was brought over to the table.  Instead, it's a portion of rib that contains the chine bone,  and instead of using it for stock, it's braised, roasted, and then deep fried; served with a freshly baked, smoky and puffy flat bread from the wood-burning oven (passed down from Rosette), the idea is to pull off a chunk of lamb, wrap it in the bread, and slather it with a tzatziki like sauce. And then go - holy shit, lamb gyros!

Kung Pao Pastrami (one of those redefined classics) is now stir-fried with home fried potatoes as the starch (did it have rice cakes before? I don't remember); potatoes work, and remind me that pastrami and eggs were a great diner staple way back when - and they were always served with home fries. Squid-ink peanut noodles are dense, chewy and funky. There are oat noodles and wheat noodles on offer as well, but since we'd all had oatmeal for breakfast, we went with the more dinner-like pasta. Turnip cakes? I don't like turnip cakes - but for some reason - I liked these. We repeated the green papaya salad, because its vinegary zip is a perfect foil for these rich, spicy flavors.

So, you got any problems? Yeah, of course I do. There's absolutely no coursing of the order, which the kitchen "likes to get all at once." And evidently they like to send the order out "all at once." So the juggling we had to do at our table was a bit comical at times, since drink glasses, water glasses, plates, and dishes loaded down with food all don't fit on a 24" square table with 3 people sitting at it. I think they can do better with this. The cocktails I've tried don't move me, but that could be because I'm a cocktail snob. I love ciders, so I'd like to see a few more American ciders, those which aren't sugar bombs, on the list.

But I've got solutions to all this.  Right next door is the 169 Bar, where a cheap drink can be had beforehand. And I'll only order 2 or 3 dishes from now on; I figure if I'm still hungry, they'll let me order some's still a restaurant, after all. And since it's right down the street from us, I greedily hope (unlike its short-lived predecessor) it's here for a long time.