Pretending that you’re going on a scavenger hunt while walking down Mission and 18th Street is the key to finding “Mission Chinese Food.” If there is a yellow awning painted with red Chinese characters and green English letters that read “Lung Shan Restaurant,” you’re in the right place. Essentially, Mission Chinese Food is a permanent pop-up restaurant located within another restaurant that offers dine-in and delivery service. Even on a Thursday night, the restaurant is packed inside with people hovering outside waiting for their chance to try one of Danny Bowien’s innovative creations.
The inside of Mission Chinese Food is loud and dimly lit with a dragon chandelier floating on top of the ceiling. The friendly host warns patrons of the wait time and makes a suggestion to get a drink nearby, letting them know that if their name has been called, an arrow will be drawn next to their name to keep their place in line.
Mission Chinese Food isn’t your typical run of the mill Chinese restaurant that offers ten course meals on a lazy susan or orange chicken. It combines traditional dishes like Mapo Tofu with Ground Kurobuta Pork Shoulder and Szechuan Peppers that bring the heat. My favorite dish of the night was the Slow Cooked Char Siu Pork Belly. The dish it was served on was too big for the appetizer but all of the different components amalgamated well together serving as a reminder that people don’t come here for pretty food. The texture of the pork belly was cooked to perfection, melting in my mouth along with the ginger scallion noodles and soy-cured egg. Also, who would have thought to combine bacon and rice cakes together? The Thrice Cooked Bacon Rice Cakes was a little heavy but if you love bacon, you will definitely love this dish.
Don’t bring a dinner companion who can’t handle spicy food, they might sweat profusely and shed tears from the exponentially fiery red chili peppers used in many of the dishes.
As a huge believer and activist in philanthropy, it makes me really happy to see that $0.75 of each entrée from Mission Chinese Food is donated to the local San Francisco Food Bank.
It’s definitely worth the wait to check out Mission Chinese Food. Not only are you doing your stomach a favor, but also the person who will benefit from the $0.75 donated from each entrée you order.
Mission Chinese Food
2234 Mission Street
Mission Chinese Food is open daily except Wednesday from 11:30AM-3:00PM, 5:00PM-10:30PM.