Mission Street Food – Farewell

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I was incredibly lucky to attend the final Mission Street Food before Danny Bowien and Youngmi Mayer take time off the restaurant to get married and to consider their next project. The meal was, in fact, entitled “Wedding Extravaganza” and indeed, the chef did not fail to impress everyone in attendance. Here’s a recap of the final meal and a special farewell and bon voyage to the happy couple. We can’t wait for your return!

Aperitif – Prickly pear soda with sake granité and red shiso. Slightly on the sweet side, three of us fought a little over the glistening red liquid with its floating, icy wonder of sake. Bright and clean, this was a great start to awaken the taste buds of anticipation of what was to come.

Cherrystone Clams and Beau Soleil Oysters – Both served on the half-shell, the oysters were garnished with spiced nori and grapefruit vinegar while the clams were set off with a brunoise of green apple, white shoyu, and hackleback caviar. There were three of us dining and only two of each shellfish served, so additional orders were immediately made. The two together made a delightful presentation and provided contrasting flavors of sweet and salt and umami. The green apple with the caviar on the clams were simultaneously crisp and refreshing while enticingly rich. The dark nori in the oysters made for a darker contrast to its clam counterpart and we could have happily ended the meal right here with a continuing feast of these morsels.

Grilled Korean Hot Peppers – Served with horseradish and moromi miso, I was concerned these would be too hot for me but was thrilled this was not the case. Slightly charred and nestled around the miso for dipping, the grilling heightened the sharp pungency inherent in the pepper, while the cool miso tempered the moderate heat of the fresh peppers.

Blistered Tomato Salad – Served with Blue Fin squid, chrysanthemum, Chinese celery, and a bit of squid ink gelée. Tiny chrysanthemum flowers studded the freshly, crisp tomatoes which complemented the squid rings. A perfect rectangle of squid ink geleé stretched across the bowl of clean tastes and a light broth brought all the flavors together.

California Aji “Negitoro” – A white slab of tofu was the basis of the amazing dish. Topped with tartare of delicately-spiced fatty tuna, the seemingly similar textures of the tofu and tartare were well-contrasted with the crispy-fried won ton skins but the flavors were all heightened by wild leeks and hint of citrus with the citron. The caviar pulled in a perfect salty component to balance the rich flavors.

Milk Fed Veal Tartare – Served with sea urchin, boquerones, huitalocoche, in a wheatgrass consommé. Such an incredibly complex gathering of flavors. Like the previous dish, the textures were mostly soft and temperate, but the salty sea flavors of the sea urchin highlighted the subtle, richness of the veal. It was the huitalocoche in the wheatgrass consommé which depicted the brilliance. Combining seemingly disparate ingredients which came together with elegance and integrity was not a surprise from this chef, but a surprise to me in how well such unusual ingredients provide something so remarkably different.

Warm Egg Custard – Studded with bits of duck confit, sturgeon, matsutake dashi, and fresh peppercorn leaves, Chef Danny’s version of Chawanmushi depicted the chef’s usual flair for brilliance.

Octopus a la Plancha – This was a dish we ordered seconds of; it was that good. Perfectly grilled, tender octopus sat atop smoked yogurt, fresh baby turnips, surprisingly large fresh peas, and a scattering of finely minced black olive and ras el hanout. So often, octopus is grilled to the point where it feels as though one is chewing on rubberbands and it is clear that Chef Danny knows his cephalopods well. The char marks only brought about the heightened sweetness in the octopus meat but it was combination of young turnips and miniature explosions from the peas that elevated this dish.

Crispy Pork Jowl and Mussels – Served with fresh lettuces, mint, pickles, carrots and sliced peppers, this was served in a way to encourage wrapping the ingredients in lettuce wraps. The mussels had a very spicy red pepper in the broth and were a bit too hot on their own, but that heat was balanced by the fattiness of the pork and cool crisp mint.

Lung Shan’s Vegan Delight – One of the standard dishes on the Mission Street Food menu, a simple broth made from miso soup nestles shitake and oyster mushroom dumplings.

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