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Mission Chinese Food
Ranked #596 of 5,909 Restaurants in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Chinese
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Delivery
Neighborhood: Mission District
Reviewed April 28, 2014

We've all suffered through meals at upstart hipster restos attempting to fuse our childhoods and gourmet with a pinch of irony. You know, the places that try to re-invent the peanut butter and jelly sandwich; places where ideas are served, not dinners. I hate those places. When I read about the Kung Pao and pastrami mash-up at Mission Chinese Food I figured I'd hate this place too.

There's definitely a large helping of hipster on display at this divey, Chinese-American joint: Marc Bolan blasting through vintage speakers, cool-kid servers, cliché decor and menu items with names and descriptions determined to poke the bear. I put my bias and hipster fatigue aside because I was hungry and because something smelled good coming out of that kitchen full of very non-hipster Asian moms and daughters.

We started with the Black Vinegar Peanuts. They were tangy and soaked long enough to leech some of the crunch out of the nuts, infusing them with lots of drink-it-up flavour. Paired perfectly with our beers.

Next up was the aforementioned Kung Pao Pastrami. My dining partner ate one of the smoked chilis on her first mouthful and this left her on the sidelines as I picked through every smokey, spicy, crunchy, soft and meaty bit of this delicious plate. It truly is a signature dish worth writing down.

Rising to the challenge, the Squid Ink Rice Noodles took us to another level of amazing taste, while the Sour Chili Chicken lost out only because the other two dishes were so damn good. The SCC did, however, improve dramatically overnight once all of its ingredients were able to bind into a lunch-time leftover treat.

There's so much more on the menu we were forced to skip, but no matter since we'll be back.

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2  Thank P K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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117 - 121 of 194 reviews

Reviewed April 21, 2014

The "Mission Chinese" name isn't even represented on the yellow awning above the entrance door. On first inspection, this is a dark, old Chinese restaurant that's seen better times. Even after entering, with the dim lights, cheap tables and chairs, pounding hip-hop music, and thrown-on decorations, you wonder whether you've made a good choice. But starting with the attentive service, all things begin to change. The menu is brief, which is quite a contrast to most Chinese restaurants. There are some obvious plays on familiar dishes, like a "beef brisket with broccoli" dish. But absolutely nothing is ordinary about the food, and every bite was a new and welcome adventure. We sampled a broad array, and all I can say is try everything. And if you're particularly daring, go for the chicken wings; like it or hate it, you won't forget the experience.

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1  Thank Dustin B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 12, 2014 via mobile

So we went to Mission Chinese because we saw it on Anthony Bourdain 48 hr layover in San Fran we tried to go to the Tonga room first and after almost passing out climbing the hill we then noticed it was Closed !!!!! So off to Mission we went man it was so good we were lucky the wait wasn't long some people were missing. But man that food was good we had the Pork Belly, general tso veal and the pork dumplings the food was a modern take on Chinese and they did a great job. I am not spreading the word it was totally worth the train ride and passing by some shady looking types (I am use to it lived in NYC for 22 years lol). They also have a location in NYC and I am telling all my friends about it.

2  Thank sweetja77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2014

I had read about the Mission Chinese before visiting San Francisco, and was determined to fit in a meal here as it sounded fabulous!
If you are taking a taxi here, make sure you write down the number of the building so that your taxi driver can locate it, as it has absolutely no signage out front. it is very small from the outside view, and a red glow from the Chinese lantern lighting inside, and a paper menu pinned up in the window is the only hint that you are at the right place!
We went early evening on a Saturday, around 5pm. It wasn't too busy at the point. There is a clipboard hanging outside about eye level near the door. Write your name and the number in your party here and wait outside, someone will come and get you fairly quickly! It's an odd system! Just a note of caution about waiting times- while we were eating our dinner it ended up with a long line waiting outside!
The Mission area, while considered pretty trendy, and full of hipsters, is pretty rough and crummy. Don't go wandering about after dark if you are unfamiliar in the area, as you may stumble into trouble. We were pretty scared when driving into the area as it looks so bad - full of drunks/hobos and generally rough. However, we encountered no issues.
The service was a little slow - we were shown to our seat by an unfriendly man who never said two words to us, and then ignored until they were ready to serve. After that, a waitress served us, and advised us on some of her favourites, some of the dishes they were famous for, and how much order. She was much friendlier anymore helpful.
We ordered smashed cucumbers with salted chilli and sesame paste, and beer brined sishuan pickles to start. Both entrees were amazing, I could have eaten a bucket of them! The smashed cucumbers were a nightmare to tackle with chopsticks though!
Next we had the salted cod fried rice and the Ma Po Tofu, which was a super spicy tofu, in chilli paste with peanuts and mushrooms. The salt cod rice had little sliced of really tasty sasuge, plus some veg through it, It was really tasty and light.
We ordered a rice entree and a tofu entree and then split both Between us. I would recommend doing this, as a rice entree may be a little dry just as it is. We didn't manage to finish either plate between us, as the servings are huge!
The food is superb, nice and spicy, really flavourful and tasty.
The restaurant itself is a bit of a dive, being honest! It looks like a cheap little hole from the outside, and inside its tatty and scruffy. The floor was covered and crumbs and doesn't look the best. We were also served our drinks in very chipped plastic tumblers, and while I don't mind a general scruffy appearance, the glasses are plain unhygienic. Plastic is porus anyways, and with chips in them, it just means they absorb germs. Off putting.
Once it gets dark though, the restaurant comes into its own. A great babble of chatter, very cool music on the sound system, and the giant Red dragon lantern hanging on the ceiling fills the room with a great cosy glow.
The food is great, and I would recommend this place just for the experience. It made me feel really cool and'in'to be eating here!

1  Thank LadyReports
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2014

My friend and I dined here on a rainy Tuesday night, and after waiting in the cold and rain we were treated to an amazing dining experience. The dishes we had were tasty, flavourful and very special. I am not sure I've had flavours like it before and I've been lucky enough to eat out lots.
The decor was kitsch, as expected, and it added to the experience. The portions were huge, and it was really affordable.
I can see why food critics have been giving this place such rave reviews, it is super special and yummy!
Well worth the wait and I will come here again....

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1  Thank kattrins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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