Mission (Chinese Food) Accomplished

Man oh man do I love the satisfaction that comes with crossing off things on my to-do lists. Even better still when that satisfying feeling of completion comes along with the happy, stuffed high of a great, big delicious meal.

Such was the case earlier this week when a friend and I finally, after talking about it over and over and meaning to go for the past year or so, went to Mission Chinese Food, the tiny, much-raved about Americanized Chinese food joint made famous in San Fran and now also located in the Lower East Side.

Dinner service starts at 5:30pm and hungry folks line up outside before the door’s even unlocked and neon sign turned on just to claim one of the few spots in the no-reservations restaurant. Right there in that line, was us, ready to scarf down our hipster Chinese grub version of an early bird special. Even though I hate early dinners, especially when the sun’s still out, I’d gladly do it again because the food totally, if you ask me, lived up to the hype.

Chili margarita

Chili margarita

To celebrate our success at A.) getting our acts together and finally making it to the restaurant and B.) actually getting seated right away, we ordered ourselves some drinks. The chili margaritas, with their orangey pink color, citrusy bite and toasted chili kick were the perfect way to start things off.

Mapo ramen

Mapo ramen

Food at Mission Chinese comes out as the kitchen finishes it and for us, first out was the mapo ramen, a generous bowl of fatty pork broth, seaweed, coddledegg, mapo tofu and ramen noodles. Like many of the dishes here, this one wasn’t shy about being packed with bright bold flavors and a fiery kick that had me breaking out in full on nose sweats. (You know, when the bridge of your nose beads up with spicy food induced sweat. Not exactly my best look.)

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Not those kind of balls

Some people like to kick off the weekend with drinks, and while I’m usually right there with those people, this weekend, which for me officially began at 3:30 this afternoon, started off with balls instead. No, not those kinds of balls. Octopus balls. Yea, no, still not those kinds of balls. Jeez, c’mon, an octopus doesn’t even have those kind, does it? Either way, we’re getting off topic here. I’m talking takoyaki, delicious fried Japanese savory snacks.

As soon as my shift ended I walked over to the tiny Otafuku in the East Village, known and loved for their takoyaki and other Japanese street eats, and got an order of octopus takoyaki.  Otafuku has them in three varieties— octopus, cheese and plain— but from everything I read online (i.e. a million and one gushing reviews) octopus was the way to go.

Otafuku

Octopus tokoyaki from Otafuku. The weekend has officially begun

For $6 I got half a dozen golf ball sized, fried-to-a-golden-brown-on-the-outside-and-gooey-hot-on-the-inside balls filled with octopus, scallion and pickled ginger. The guy at the counter handed them to me naked and asked what I wanted on them so I asked him what was good. His answer? “Everything.” Letting him go to town on my balls (you’re loving this ongoing balls thing, aren’t you?) I watched him dress them up in a drizzle of mayonnaise, a generous all-over pour of okonomi sauce (a thick, tangy, sweet brown sauce), a dusting of aonori ( crushed up seaweed) and finally a topping of bonito flakes (bonito being a type of fish).

Always a fan of mixed textures and tastes in my food, I liked that the octopus balls were slightly crunchy on the outside put softer and a bit creamier on the inside. The sweetness of the okonomi sauce also paired well with the tanginess of the mayo, both making for a thick, tasty sauce to go with the subtle flavor of the octopus.

The only thing that could’ve made my start to the weekend even better? A frosty beer to go with my balls.

Otafuku on Urbanspoon

Always room for more

I had a big lunch yesterday. A really big lunch. An Indian buffet lunch to be exact. And as the coworker who ate with me said, “You can’t just get one plate at a buffet.” So two very large plates were had, and one enormous puppy belly afterward. Back at my desk, all I wanted to do was go into a deep food coma and dream about digestion.

Hijik-ni

When dinnertime came around later that night and Flaneur suggested going out for Indian, I almost cried.

“Please no,” I whimpered, clutching my still-full belly. “I can’t. I just can’t.”

“Well what about that Japanese place up the block?”

Hmm. Japenese eh? I could do something like that, I thought to myself. Something light. A seaweed salad perhaps. Continue reading