Thursday, 7 February 2013

EAT noodles

The sting on my lips, the burn in my belly - there's something about a straight up hit of spice that makes me feel like I'm doing good things for my body. It's so comforting and sensory, and especially in the freezing New York Winter months.

From the outer, Mission Chinese (154 Orchard St, Manhattan) doesn't have the same chic appeal that characterises many faddish Manhattan restaurants.  A bit shabby, a bit fluro, a bit dingy. Still, I've learnt from many past experiences that this can be the best kind of place, and Mission Chinese is no exception. Hailing from San Francisco's notorious restaurant of the same name, Danny Bowien is the inspired mastermind behind the firey Szechwanese menu.

A tingling appetiser of peanuts drenched in a deep purple Beijing vinegar and decorated with flecks of smoked garlic, anise and rock sugar is an eye-watering tease. What follows is almost unspeakably good. They say that the one thing that will always turn a vegetarian carnivorous is bacon. Being a reformed vego myself (yes, yes I was) this rings true for a dish of thrice-cooked bacon,  thick pieces of heavily smoked bacon in a glistening jacket of chilli oil and tossed with soft Shanghainese rice cakes - a fat rice noodle with all the allure of a plump little dumpling. Rich, clear broths of braised beef tendon or pork hock are palate-relieving and warming, swimming with fresh ramen noodles and greens.

Mission Chinese ticks all the boxes for a midweek take-out, a Saturday date night or a boozy foodie session with mates. It's cheap, trendy and will leave you seriously cheerful.

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