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The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook

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From rising culinary star Danny Bowien, chef and cofounder of the tremendously popular Mission Chinese Food restaurants, comes an exuberant cookbook that tells the story of an unconventional idea born in San Francisco that spread cross-country, propelled by wildly inventive recipes that have changed what it means to cook Chinese food in America 
Mission Chinese Food is not From rising culinary star Danny Bowien, chef and cofounder of the tremendously popular Mission Chinese Food restaurants, comes an exuberant cookbook that tells the story of an unconventional idea born in San Francisco that spread cross-country, propelled by wildly inventive recipes that have changed what it means to cook Chinese food in America 
Mission Chinese Food is not exactly a Chinese restaurant. It began its life as a pop-up: a restaurant nested within a divey Americanized Chinese joint in San Francisco’s Mission District. From the beginning, a spirit of resourcefulness and radical inventiveness has infused each and every dish at Mission Chinese Food. Now, hungry diners line up outside both the San Francisco and New York City locations, waiting hours for platters of Sizzling Cumin Lamb, Thrice-Cooked Bacon, Fiery Kung Pao Pastrami, and pungent Salt-Cod Fried Rice. The force behind the phenomenon, chef Danny Bowien is, at only thirty-three, the fastest-rising young chef in the United States. Born in Korea and adopted by parents in Oklahoma, he has a broad spectrum of influences. He’s a veteran of fine-dining kitchens, sushi bars, an international pesto competition, and a grocery-store burger stand. In 2013 Food & Wine named him one of the country’s Best New Chefs and the James Beard Foundation awarded him its illustrious Rising Star Chef Award. In 2011 Bon Appétit named Mission Chinese Food the second-best new restaurant in America, and in 2012 the New York Times hailed the Lower East Side outpost as the Best New Restaurant in New York City.  The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook tracks the fascinating, meteoric rise of the restaurant and its chef. Each chapter in the story—from the restaurant’s early days, to an ill-fated trip to China, to the opening of the first Mission Chinese in New York—unfolds as a conversation between Danny and his collaborators, and is accompanied by detailed recipes for the addictive dishes that have earned the restaurant global praise. Mission Chinese’s legions of fans as well as home cooks of all levels will rethink what it means to cook Chinese food, while getting a look into the background and insights of one of the most creative young chefs today.


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From rising culinary star Danny Bowien, chef and cofounder of the tremendously popular Mission Chinese Food restaurants, comes an exuberant cookbook that tells the story of an unconventional idea born in San Francisco that spread cross-country, propelled by wildly inventive recipes that have changed what it means to cook Chinese food in America 
Mission Chinese Food is not From rising culinary star Danny Bowien, chef and cofounder of the tremendously popular Mission Chinese Food restaurants, comes an exuberant cookbook that tells the story of an unconventional idea born in San Francisco that spread cross-country, propelled by wildly inventive recipes that have changed what it means to cook Chinese food in America 
Mission Chinese Food is not exactly a Chinese restaurant. It began its life as a pop-up: a restaurant nested within a divey Americanized Chinese joint in San Francisco’s Mission District. From the beginning, a spirit of resourcefulness and radical inventiveness has infused each and every dish at Mission Chinese Food. Now, hungry diners line up outside both the San Francisco and New York City locations, waiting hours for platters of Sizzling Cumin Lamb, Thrice-Cooked Bacon, Fiery Kung Pao Pastrami, and pungent Salt-Cod Fried Rice. The force behind the phenomenon, chef Danny Bowien is, at only thirty-three, the fastest-rising young chef in the United States. Born in Korea and adopted by parents in Oklahoma, he has a broad spectrum of influences. He’s a veteran of fine-dining kitchens, sushi bars, an international pesto competition, and a grocery-store burger stand. In 2013 Food & Wine named him one of the country’s Best New Chefs and the James Beard Foundation awarded him its illustrious Rising Star Chef Award. In 2011 Bon Appétit named Mission Chinese Food the second-best new restaurant in America, and in 2012 the New York Times hailed the Lower East Side outpost as the Best New Restaurant in New York City.  The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook tracks the fascinating, meteoric rise of the restaurant and its chef. Each chapter in the story—from the restaurant’s early days, to an ill-fated trip to China, to the opening of the first Mission Chinese in New York—unfolds as a conversation between Danny and his collaborators, and is accompanied by detailed recipes for the addictive dishes that have earned the restaurant global praise. Mission Chinese’s legions of fans as well as home cooks of all levels will rethink what it means to cook Chinese food, while getting a look into the background and insights of one of the most creative young chefs today.

30 review for The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Restaurant recipes, so a lot of prep. Not good for regular home meals.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gunn

    This was the first cookbook I ever read cover to cover as most of the time, I'm just going from recipe to recipe to see if this is something I want to make - As an autobiographical narrative of how a korean adoptee from the middle of the country screwed around, found his passion, worked his ass off, and through a combination of innate skills+hardwork+luck managed to become one of the few celebrity chefs in the US, it's FANTASTIC. - As an actual cookbook, IT'S TOO DAMN FUSSY. On the Story: To me, it This was the first cookbook I ever read cover to cover as most of the time, I'm just going from recipe to recipe to see if this is something I want to make - As an autobiographical narrative of how a korean adoptee from the middle of the country screwed around, found his passion, worked his ass off, and through a combination of innate skills+hardwork+luck managed to become one of the few celebrity chefs in the US, it's FANTASTIC. - As an actual cookbook, IT'S TOO DAMN FUSSY. On the Story: To me, it's fascinating to read about how an asian kid who grew up among white kids in middle 'murica took a completely different path to success than most everyone I know who came from the same background and became doctors, lawyers, or engineers (myself included). He's honest about his mistakes and shortcomings which is interesting to read. I can't say that I've read many celebrity autobiographies (the last one I recall was the utterly ridiculous Wyclef Jean autobiography -- and that was only because I had the opportunity to hear him speak and have him sign the book "to a perfect gentlemen, Gunn.") On the Cookbook: I'm not sure who the target audience this book was written for. - If you are lucky enough to live in SF or NYC, one read through these recipes by someone who is a passable cook will realize that far it's easier to order almost every recipe than make it yourself considering how cumbersome. To quote Sweet Brown, "Aint nobody got time for that!" - As best I can figure it, the intended target audience is some foodie housewife/househusband in a flyover state (read: culinary truckstop) with a family that has an adventurous appetite, a generous enough food budget to buy everything needed online, and a burning desire to cook instead of doing all of the things a typical helicopter mom/dad would do (PTA committees, kid related volunteer work, and extra-curricular transportation). I have some friends in Austin who could fit in 2 out of 3 of these categories but I'm not sure about all three. "I don't think I'm a tiger mom b/c my sons are involved in less than 5 afterschool activities." -- actual quote from a friend but I digress. - I live in SF and have a pretty well stocked pantry of niche thai, chinese, korean, and japanese spices and these recipes are over complicated. I do most of the grocery shopping for my family and it's mostly at asian markets after work (we have specialty markets catering to korean, japanese, chinese, and even pinoy) and do good chunk of the cooking. I believe even in my situation only a handful can be made as a weekday meal -- with prep on the weekends. This is NOT a Heidi Swanson or Deb Perelmen, or Harumi Kurihara cookbook for a family where both parents (and potential cooks) work; in comparison, it's Harumi's japanese home cooking recipes are easy enough that even a passable home cook can make 2-3 of them simultaneously on a weeknight in <1hr. Even Charles Phan has some recipes suitable for making after work and are tasty enough to serve guests for a midweek/Friday night dinner (ex: his Bo luc Lac recipe from the cookbook not the one found online which swaps proper mirin for white vinegar+sugar and cuts the sweet soy). Maybe in a few years my kid can bang out these recipes after school once he finishes his homework but this dream is as likely as him rebuilding my racecar's engine for me after school as well. - I've gone through all of them and while I don't mind the occasional overly fussy recipe (Danny even admits in his smoked monkfish liver donburi recipe in the appendix requires a stupid amount of work), I was particularly annoyed with his Hot and Sour Rib Tips recipe (pg 140). In it, Danny recounts that a friend of his guide cooked him this recipe in 20 minutes start to finish in China. I want THAT recipe. In comparison, Danny's recipe will take a good deal longer (>1hr) unless you whip out the pressure cooker. Now, I haven't been in very many home kitchens in mainland China but I'll bet dollars to yuan that his chinese friend didn't have a pressure cooker. In order to make this recipe mid-week, the average home cook will likely need to mod this recipe and experiment to see how to make it with less drama. Or buy a damned instapot/pressure cooker. This is clearly not an America's Test Kitchen cookbook where they try a dozen methods and report the most optimal path. Modification will be required. - In conclusion, if anything, I'm guessing that besides getting a pretty decent paycheck Danny wrote this book for himself and maybe other professionals to tell his story and showcase some of his signature dishes -- at the expense of accessibility for the common home cook. While I admire him and what he has achieved as a person, I'm not a fan of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    Interesting if you are a fan. Can't remember what drove me to get this book but it sounded intriguing. I've never been to the Mission Chinese restaurants but I enjoy the stories of cooks, chefs, etc. and thought it might be a good read.   Part-cookbook, part biography, part interview with Danny Bowien, Chris Ying and some of the people they've worked with, etc. the book itself is trying to be too much of everything without being any one thing. I think I was under the impression it was more of a co Interesting if you are a fan. Can't remember what drove me to get this book but it sounded intriguing. I've never been to the Mission Chinese restaurants but I enjoy the stories of cooks, chefs, etc. and thought it might be a good read.   Part-cookbook, part biography, part interview with Danny Bowien, Chris Ying and some of the people they've worked with, etc. the book itself is trying to be too much of everything without being any one thing. I think I was under the impression it was more of a cookbook/biography of Mission Chinese itself (as in the restaurant but not necessarily the people behind it).   There are some really gorgeous pictures (the book itself also has a nice picture of a dish on the front cover) but I wouldn't be compelled to make any of the recipes since I am not the type to put in that effort and would trust the experts a lot more. I also wasn't all that interested in either of Danny or Chris (or anyone else's!) stories in the book.    Based on Yelp reviews it seems to be they found some sort of way to make Americanized Chinese food/Americanized Asian fusion food, etc. into a "thing" which is odd because it's not a new concept.   As you can tell, I don't get the hype. Skip it unless you really like the concept or like cookbooks.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

    Who is the audience for this cookbook? Most of the recipes in this book will be too ambitious for a home chef. I personally don’t plan to cook any of the recipes within. It reads more like a memoir of a restaurant, but the problem with that concept is trying to convince people to care about a restaurant they probably will never patronize. The most interesting thing about the book is the behind the scenes aspects of a chef’s life. The restaurant industry is a tough gig and the chefs behind this co Who is the audience for this cookbook? Most of the recipes in this book will be too ambitious for a home chef. I personally don’t plan to cook any of the recipes within. It reads more like a memoir of a restaurant, but the problem with that concept is trying to convince people to care about a restaurant they probably will never patronize. The most interesting thing about the book is the behind the scenes aspects of a chef’s life. The restaurant industry is a tough gig and the chefs behind this cookbook are transparent about their struggles. This book is a buyer’s beware for anyone who wants to be a chef or open a restaurant. For someone who has a history working in restaurants, you might find yourself cringing a lot while reading. I had traumatic memories of busy kitchens and unhappy customers which hindered my ability to enjoy this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Smithwick

    I always enjoy reading about chefs becoming chefs and this book didn’t disappoint. Bowien’s journey is unique and he is a true non-destructive iconoclast. I hope to be able to eat at Mission Chinese Food someday. Meanwhile a friend emphatically pointed me toward the Salt Cod Fried Rice. The recipe is easy to follow and the dish is delicious. Totally unlike anything I’ve ever cooked myself or had in a Chinese restaurant. Looking forward to trying more of the recipes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julien

    I didn't really connect with the stories in the book and there we're enough recipes to make it a solid cookbook. It was more like a book of autobiographical vignettes, punctuated by recipes. I was hoping for more recipes to work with. I didn't really connect with the stories in the book and there we're enough recipes to make it a solid cookbook. It was more like a book of autobiographical vignettes, punctuated by recipes. I was hoping for more recipes to work with.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    Lots of Q&A with the chef, a few recipes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shuting

    coming from China and having been to the Mission Chinese restaurant twice, I really like how this book unfolded the story around Daniel personally and the restaurant. Now I understand why they wouldnt change the restaurant's name on the store front - well they feel very attached to Lung Shan, the original Chinese restaurant and now the partner of Mission Chinese and would not want to erase the connection there. I like how this interview/conversation effectively brings out some of the most intima coming from China and having been to the Mission Chinese restaurant twice, I really like how this book unfolded the story around Daniel personally and the restaurant. Now I understand why they wouldnt change the restaurant's name on the store front - well they feel very attached to Lung Shan, the original Chinese restaurant and now the partner of Mission Chinese and would not want to erase the connection there. I like how this interview/conversation effectively brings out some of the most intimate and important memories and facts about the establishment. I could not imagine what Bowien has experienced as a young line cook in NYC and he described the bullying, suffering, surviving so well with his plain but powerful words. On the recipes side, I think this book shows a very good understanding of Chinese cooking, and I have been to Sichuan twice just for food so I know that the recipes in this book are reasonable and a good adaption of Chinese recipes instead of irresponsible appropriation. It takes lots of courage and talent to be able to make a cuisine from another culture with lots of integrity and originality. Yet some of the recipes are slightly overly complicated and too much of restaurant style for me. For example, I would not use tomato paste in my mapo tofu sauce.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

    49 recipes in 336 pages 1 recipe every 7 pages is just a letdown so, i'm trying to give it three stars though it's incredibly skimpy and tries to reinvent fusion food as a new thing --- not sure if the book deserves a 4 or a 6, but if you know the recipes are few and involved and the book is 80% talk, it's okay but don't expect a lot of variety, just quirky involved stuff, which could be a challenge at home the place did intrigue Bourdain, so that a sign it wasn't dreary or boring, that's for sure... - 49 recipes in 336 pages 1 recipe every 7 pages is just a letdown so, i'm trying to give it three stars though it's incredibly skimpy and tries to reinvent fusion food as a new thing --- not sure if the book deserves a 4 or a 6, but if you know the recipes are few and involved and the book is 80% talk, it's okay but don't expect a lot of variety, just quirky involved stuff, which could be a challenge at home the place did intrigue Bourdain, so that a sign it wasn't dreary or boring, that's for sure... --- i tend to hate fads, and fusion foods usually clash by trying to be too bold and the closest i lean to fusion food was The China Moon cookbook by Barbara Tropp --- Kung Pao Pastrami 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 small Russet potato, cut into 1/8-inch pieces 12 ounces deli pastrami, cut into 1-inch pieces 3 celery stalks, sliced 4 green onions, sliced (green and white parts separated) 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns 12 dried mild chili peppers (like Bullet Head chili peppers) 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 to 3 tablespoons chili flakes from Homemade Chili Oil 1 tablespoon light soy sauce 1/4 cup chicken stock 1 cup bell peppers, sliced 1/2 cup peanuts, roasted Toasted sesame seeds for garnish potatoes and pastrami with chinese flavors, okay i'll give the book a pass

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ashani

    Part bio-part cookbook ! In love with the last section of the book-Chinese pantry staples !!!

  11. 4 out of 5

    JDAZDesigns

    Not what I expected. More than I wanted.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Very frank, personal memoir with recipes from one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve ever visited.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Haley

    I've eaten at Mission Chinese a couple of times and have always been intrigued by the clearly-not-really-chinese nature of it. I've explained to Andre that it's very very good as long as you approach it from the angle of "this is a brand new thing" rather than expecting authenticity or familiarity. It was a lot of fun, then, to read this book, which is essentially half memoir (as a long-format interview) and half recipe book. It's mentioned early on that the recipes are written pretty much exactl I've eaten at Mission Chinese a couple of times and have always been intrigued by the clearly-not-really-chinese nature of it. I've explained to Andre that it's very very good as long as you approach it from the angle of "this is a brand new thing" rather than expecting authenticity or familiarity. It was a lot of fun, then, to read this book, which is essentially half memoir (as a long-format interview) and half recipe book. It's mentioned early on that the recipes are written pretty much exactly as prepared at the restaurant, without regard for practicality in the home kitchen. But as someone without a smoker or 100,000 BTU burner for the wok, I wasn't really expecting to come away from this book with new weeknight recipes. Rather the value in this book, to me, was the story and the creativity shown in the dishes, with some fun local tidbits of culinary history thrown in. That being said, the most valuable part of the book cooking-wise to me is the in-depth directory of condiments, oils, and sauces at the end of the book. A mix of DIY and their favorite store bought brands (with photos!) plus techniques makes this section something I'll be returning to. .... but for now, I'm really craving some Kung Pao pastrami......

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Johnstonbaugh

    So being from Oklahoma, I have a bit of loyalty to Danny, (whose roots came from here), but this was a great read. I love cookbooks that not only have recipes but a narrative weaving through them as well. you get quite the peek into the rise of Chinese Mission and the trials and tests of opening a restaurant. The recipes sound amazing but if you don't have a good Asian market, you'd be hard pressed to find some of the ingredients, although the Internet opens ingredients to all. This is not a coo So being from Oklahoma, I have a bit of loyalty to Danny, (whose roots came from here), but this was a great read. I love cookbooks that not only have recipes but a narrative weaving through them as well. you get quite the peek into the rise of Chinese Mission and the trials and tests of opening a restaurant. The recipes sound amazing but if you don't have a good Asian market, you'd be hard pressed to find some of the ingredients, although the Internet opens ingredients to all. This is not a cookbook for the beginner, but due to the popularity of his three restaurants, I believe the recipes are probably really great.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Had the good fortune to finally eat at the SF restaurant this weekend so it made reading the book all the more yummy after eating the Salt Cod Fried Rice, Kung Pao Pastrami and Sichuan-peppercorn-numbing chicken wings. I will never make a single dish in this book, but I will now look to find Mapo Tofu on menus. Loved the personal stories shared here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Enjoyed Bowien's story (both personal and professional) but the fun of the narrative's dialogue style wore off after a few chapters. All your favorite Mission Chinese recipes are covered, nice photography, and the chapter on stocking your pantry was helpful. Enjoyed Bowien's story (both personal and professional) but the fun of the narrative's dialogue style wore off after a few chapters. All your favorite Mission Chinese recipes are covered, nice photography, and the chapter on stocking your pantry was helpful.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Derek Barnes

    A feast of exciting new umami-bombs from Danny Bowien.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Eric Dowdle

    There are tons of memoir/cookbooks out there, but this is one of the best I've ever read on both counts. There are tons of memoir/cookbooks out there, but this is one of the best I've ever read on both counts.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eye Summers

    ("the sauce with the angry old lady on the jar") ("the sauce with the angry old lady on the jar")

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Ference

    It's not just a cookbook. It's a journey. It's a memoir. It's amazing! It's not just a cookbook. It's a journey. It's a memoir. It's amazing!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Kosiec

    This isn't a traditional cookbook, but a raw and personal account of Mission Chinese. I'm in awe of Danny's creativity. This isn't a traditional cookbook, but a raw and personal account of Mission Chinese. I'm in awe of Danny's creativity.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Three and a half to four stars The recipes didn't interest me as much as the memoir and interviews did Three and a half to four stars The recipes didn't interest me as much as the memoir and interviews did

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mickey

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelcie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim Williams

  26. 4 out of 5

    Oliver

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Consiglio

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linn

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