i hit up mission street food again on thursday with my girl julie. julie is one of my favorite people in the world despite her being a vegetarian and ‘forcing’ me to eat all the delicious meat dishes by myself.
the guest chef on thursday was mari takahashi of sozai restaurant and sake lounge in the inner sunset. i would like to adopt mari and install her in my kitchen as the benevolent goddess of porky love. her MSF menu included THREE kinds of pork product which i had to eat ALL BY MYSELF. poor me. i actually went through the charade of questioning whether i could actually eat it all and reminding myself out loud that i could always take home any leftovers. then i totally destroyed all three dishes on the solo tip because i am into over-the-top gluttony like that.
i started with the bacon xiao long bao, which are shanghai soup dumplings that i got obsessed with when living in nyc chinatown after graduating college. it’s a steamed dumpling typically filled with a super intensely porky broth that is best eaten by putting it in a soup spoon and poking with a chopstick so some of the juice leaks out and cools off and you don’t get a first mouthful of boiling hot magma-style liquid. these soup dumplings were made with bacon (i am seriously on bacon overload) and were served in adorably multicolored silicone cupcake liners:
these soup dumplings weren’t the best i’ve ever had (my faves are from nice green bo, formerly new green bo, downstairs from my old apartment in chinatown), with a slightly drier wrapper and less tasty broth inside, but they added an exciting element with the salty smokiness of the bacon. definitely worth a try.
we also started with olives, the smaller darker lucque and my favorite bright green castelvetrano, and a bottle of wine from julie. oh herro.
next up, i worked on this ginormous japanese pancake called okonomiyaki. here’s the MSF description: Homemade Kurobuta Bacon Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake), Sweet Worcestershire Sauce, Japanese style Aioli, Shaved Bonito Flakes, Ao-Nori. the full view:
and the extreme closeup. don’t worry, i finished the whole thing by myself. no, you can’t have any, thanks for asking.
the third and best pork dish of the evening? a slow braised berkshire kurobota pork belly with seven japanese spices, a soy grilled rice ball, and yuzu daikon pickles. HOLY F*CKING I WANT TO EAT YOU ALL THE TIME. here’s the initial presentation:
and here’s what it looked like after i inhaled half of it straight to the dome. so succulent. so tender. so perfect with the light vinegary taste of the picked daikon. i could eat this every day and be an ecstatically happy fatass.
while i took down what must have amounted to an entire half pig, julie munched on the comparably virtuous sesame avocado brown rice bowl with tofu tempura.
everything i ate (i.e. my three pork dishes plus bites of all julie’s food, AND some humphrey slocombe green tea-black sesame ice cream) was extremely well-executed considering mari was cooking in the unfamiliar kitchen of a semi-sketchy chinese restaurant, and definitely delicious. on my way back from the bathroom (you have to go through the kitchen) i noticed a guy taking photos of the chefs, nosed my way in, and met mari herself. i told her i wanted to eat her pork belly for every meal and she was incredibly nice. i’m leaving town in 48 hours, otherwise i’d go to her restaurant immediately.
i also spied a tray full of the yaki onigiri (yummy grilled rice triangles served with the braised pork). if i hadn’t just eaten enough to fill a hunting lioness and her four semi-starved cubs, i would have yoinked one of these beauties:
my last favorite thing about MSF besides the food? the amazing posters lining the wall at lung shan, which i mentioned last time. i don’t really understand what is going on in this photo, but i find it greatly amusing:
two last bits of happy information? 1) all the profits from mari’s food went to food runners, a volunteer food delivery group, and all the MSF profits went to UNICEF’s tap project. b) i ran into allan of mission mission, everyone’s favorite local blog! exciting. in conclusion, get thee to MSF to fill your heart with happiness and your belly with deliciousness, all for a good cause! but get there early…this was the line at 5:45pm, fifteen minutes before they even opened:
man. the greatness of MSF cannot be denied by the adoring masses. i can’t help but agree….