With Mission Chinese Food, there's one rule: there are no rules. This was certainly evident on Danny Bowien's recent tour for The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook, wherein appearances abounded from a whole slew of special guests: Andy Ricker of Pok Pok (and FARANG), Chad Robertson of San Francisco bread palace Tartine, Kris Yenbamroong of Night+Market, Jessica Koslow of brunch mini-empire Sqirl. That's not to mention Bowien's own recently formed punk band NARX, featuring Chris Conley of Saves the Day and Geoff Rickly of Thursday and No Devotion. And of course, the menu was as inventive as the all-star chef crew making it (and the musicians creating the live soundtrack).
But even a bona fide Wonka factory of rejiggered Chinese food has its mainstays—including, for instance, the Chongqing Chicken Wings. These spicy-as-hell little bad boys have been part of the Mission Chinese canon since its first incarnation as a pop-up in San Francisco's humble Lung Shan, an unassuming joint in the Mission District. Mission Chinese Food's West Coast outpost now makes Lung Shan its permanent home, and with it, these impossible tingly, pepper-covered wings have stuck around, too. You'll also find them, or the bones of them, at the MCF in New York as well.
They're hot as Hades, wonderfully spiced, and super umami. That's why Mission Chinese's excitement-seeking guests never tire of them. Plus, you'll want to put that spice mix—with tongue-zapping Szechuan peppercorns, cumin, fennel seed, cardamom, cloves, and mushroom powder—on everything.
The cast of friends you assemble to eat them might not include a bunch of stars of the food world, but you'll feel like one anyway. Just don't forget the napkins—and a drink for cooling off.