Danny Bowien- A Korean guy cooking (Americanized) Chinese food; a 2013 James Beard rising star Award winner. How does a long hair Asian dude take over down all the Italian chefs and won the pesto world champion (2008)? We are very curious.
We wanted to go to Danny Bowein’s place for quite sometime now. He made his fame in the west coast. After his move to this side of the continent, we now have Mission Chinese and Mission Cantina, both in Lower East Side.
So on a Thursday, we went for tacos. I should have done more reading before I went, apparently Mission Cantina had changed their menu to mostly burrito…. The only taco available on the day was fish taco. All those great cumin lamb taco, pork shoulder taco and mushroom tacos I’ve read so much about were “retired”, so was the chicken wings… Our server told us their menu frequently changes, and the items I mentioned were “winter season”. Disappointed but we still have high expectations about the sole taco on the menu. To be honest, there weren’t a lot of choices.
The menu is divided into 2 sections, Mexican vs Chinese, 5 entrees on each side. We have guacamole and taco on one side, but broccoli beef and Kung Po chicken on the other side. Why? I think… Was it always like this? I thought Mission Chinese had reopened and relocated?? I really don’t know. But I know I won’t be ordering from the Chinese’s side, I’d rather wait till I go to Mission Chinese. So, between the two of us, we split an order of fish taco, some guacamole, and a chicken burrito. We hesitated about not ordering the fried chicken, but we decided to wait and see.
It was a warm spring evening. All the sea-foam green framed window were opened to the street welcoming the sun in. The outdoor dinning area is in business, but all the seats were taken. Young trendy hippies chilling, slipping beers on the benches. We sat deep inside at the end of the narrow restaurant by the window, slipping our delicious margarita. The loud speaker over our heads was pumping Madonna, Madonna from the 80s- The golden MTV era. Very much fit the deco of this Mexican place. Neon lights, colorful furniture, the ceiling is filled with hand cut paper hanging along side the chandelier. Glamorours, yet funky and fun.
The guacamole has a full avocado. Came in a silver mixing bowl, smashed and mixed table side. The fish taco comes with rice and beans. It was covered by the salad on top. It was good but not impressive, a little over salted to me. The bean was a little too mush and salty. But the rice was great, lightly stir fry, not oily at all. With a little tomatillo, it almost felt sweet. The tortilla that wrapped the chicken burrito was great, light, soft and fluffy. But the inside was just okay, ordinary, and it really need the help from the spicy jalapeño sauce on the side to help. So what the fuss is about? Maybe we have to go to Mission Chinese to find out… ?
Mission Cantina | 172 Orchard St | April 2016