Dinner Thursday through Tuesday 5:30 p.m. to midnight. Lunch Friday through Tuesday noon to 2 p.m.
F at Delancey St.; J, M, Z at Essex St.
Appetizers, $4 to $13; entrées, $10 to $15.
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Members of the No-Reservations Generation are also out in force, these days, at Mission Chinese Food, the new Lower East Side branch of the Korean-American chef Danny Bowien’s extravagantly praised neo-Sichuan restaurant in San Francisco. The space, on Orchard Street, is designed like a classic low-rent takeout joint. There’s a bare-bones carryout counter up front, with great glowing photos of Bowien’s meaty, David Chang-influenced creations (broccoli beef cheek, thrice-cooked bacon, stir-fried pork jowl) lit up on a plastic “light box” display. The dining room, which you get to by walking through a narrow passageway past the appropriately dingy kitchen, is about the size of a large toolshed and features a billowing red-and-gold Chinese dragon hung from the ceiling. Chang-style rock ballads blare from the speakers even during lunchtime hours, and if you go for dinner, the wait for a table can take two hours or more.
Eaten separately, or in tiny doses, Bowien’s antic, umami-bomb creations have a certain gut-busting charm. But with a handful of exceptions (tea-smoked eel rolls, lamb-cheek dumplings, the smoky thrice-cooked bacon, a deliciously restorative salted pepper broth with pumpkin and wild pepper leaves), the one-note, meat-centric focus on Sichuan cuisine sent my fellow diners and me into a peppery, protein-induced death spiral from which there was little relief or escape. That silky, normally subtle Sichuan specialty, ma po tofu, is muffled here in a great burgerlike mound of ground pork. The stir-fried pork jowls are notable as far as pork jowls go, but after an exhausted bite or two, I found myself rooting around for the fat pink radishes that accompanied them. In the Chang tradition, there are no desserts, although chances are you’ll be so bloated with overspiced pork and offal products that you won’t really care.Featured In
Review: Platt on Pok Pok Ny and Mission Chinese (7/22/12) Recommended Dishes
Tea-smoked eel rolls, lamb-cheek dumplings in red oil, thrice-cooked bacon, wild pepper leaves in salted chile broth.