Two weeks ago I got a text from Janet, “Mission Chinese Food just opened in LES! Let’s go tomorrow.” a minute later “They don’t take reservations and the average wait to be seated is 2 hours, can you meet at 5:30 when they open?”
After googling Mission Chinese Food, I was just as excited as Janet. I texted back ” Yes & yes! See you tomorrow!” Mission is a San Fran cult favorite that recently set up shop in NYC & has an interesting menu which is a sharp departure from your average Chinese food.
Mission Chinese Food: Broccoli with Beef Cheek & Smoked Oyster Sauce + Lamb Cheek Dumplings
When I arrived I thought I had the wrong address. The entry to Mission Chinese Food looks like your average neighborhood Chinese take out spot but when you ask about seating someone motions you to go down a long hall past the already bustling kitchen. In the back there’s a small seating area that feels a like the hipster/foodie spot you thought you were going to.
We were all little late meeting up and at 5:45 the back room had already started to fill up. We sipped Yuzu Soju cocktails while we waited for Janet’s husband to join us. BTW why aren’t yuzu’s ever in the grocery store? They’re all over menus but I’ve never seen one in person. Other than Soju cocktails, I was happy to see the bar menu offered a Michedala, which would probably have paired better with the food than the Soju cocktail, oh well.
Salt Cod Fried Rice, Thrice Cooked Bacon & Pork Jowls with Radishes and Mint
I recommend going to Mission Chinese Food early and with at least three or four people so you can order lots of items. We ordered Stir Fried Pork Jowl with Radishes, Lamb Cheek Dumplings, Thrice Cooked Bacon, Sichuan Pickled Vegetables, Chongqing Chicken Wings, Broccoli Beef Cheeks with Smoked Oyster Sauce, and Salt Cod Fried Rice. Having Janet’s husband, he’s a big eater, there was crucial or we wouldn’t have been able to finish so many dishes.
Reed and I recently went to the Greenwich Grill in Tribeca which is an unusual mix of Japanese and Italian cooking. When you enter its set up a sushi bar but in the back room there’s a lovely Italian restaurant. I ordered the tasting menu which was hit and miss but my main course the chicken with bacon sauce which was spiked with garlic, lemon, and rosemary had a great combination of flavors. The bacon sauce also incorporated pine nuts and pine nuts always remind me of my first encounter with pine nuts in nature: Four years ago I met up with my friend Jenna in Moscow where we hopped on the Trans-Siberian Railroad bound for Beijing. During our stop over in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, we were excited to do some hiking after being cooped up in a small train compartment for four days .
Lonely Planet recommended an outfitter for hiking trips around the capital. They weren’t running any trips while we were in town but the expat who ran the place was happy to sell us a map and recommend some short hikes that would be suited for our fitness level, moderate to solid, and hiking experience, novice. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Ulaanbaatar’s markets looking for cashmere accessories and hiking supplies: gloves (its still pretty chilly in Mongolia in June), nuts, dried fruit, and bottled water but it was only a 3-4 hour hike so we weren’t worried but its always better to be prepared.
Setting off on an extremely long hike back to Ulaanbaater
Early the next morning the driver we hired took us to an outlying area from which we were going hike back to Ulaanbaatar. As we drove out, I got a concerned at how long the drive was taking but I told myself it was slow going because the road was rough and winding. We planned to take a trail through the hills and forest to lead us to a nice hotel in the Ulaanbaatar suburbs where we’d have lunch before continuing on to the capital.
Semi-lost in the Mongolian wilderness but still having a good time
After we’d been hiking for two hours and were still far away from the hills that marked the half way point, I could tell that we were on a much longer hike than we’d planned. That’s when I realized we really should have held out for a map milage scale. We started to ration our water and really picked up our pace. Through the plains, forests and scrambling over rocky hill tops we kept up our pace. A month ago Jenna and I had hiked in and out of the Grand Canyon in an afternoon so we were in reasonably good shape but we didn’t want to be out in the Mongolian wilderness overnight. Continue reading