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.