Entries in Danny Bowien (9)


Practice Makes Perfect (Americanized Oriental Food)

Mission Chinese Food became an instant hit when it opened on Orchard Street last May. The restaurant introduced New Yorkers to Danny Bowien's unique cuisine, one he refers to as "Americanized Oriental Food," and revealed his generous approach to hospitality. In this short video from Nowness, Bowien cites Spicy Village on Forsyth in Chinatown as a source of inspiration, "I probably ate here 20 times and we honestly totally knocked off a few of their dishes because they're so delicious."

He also draws comparissons in cooking to music, explaining that, "As a cook you have to cook and you have to cook a lot; sixteen hours a days sometimes and it's very phsyical. Same with being in a band, you have to record, and you have to tour. You have to practice a lot." [EN]


Go On with Your Bad Self, Mr. Bowien

The end of the year is a time when food critics weigh in on all that happened in the restaurant industry over the last twelve months. In place of a review this week, New York Times critic Pete Wells wrote "12 Restaurant Triumphs of 2012." "At the end of my first year in the restaurant critic’s chair," he writes, "the New York dining landscape still looks like a wonderland to me." The list of 12 restaurants is arranged as a countdown, described as "a cardiogram, with each spike in the chart denoting a restaurant that made my heart race this year." Among the excitement-inducing restaurants are Gwynnett St (12), Calliope (11), Blanca (10), Pok Pok Ny (7), Atera (4), and The Nomad (3).

Landing the number 1 spot is Danny Bowien's Lower East Side smash Mission Chinese Food. "For its bravado, its inventiveness, its low prices, its attempt to ease the suffering of those waiting at the door by tapping a small keg of free beer, and its promise to give some of its earnings on each entree to a food bank, Mission Chinese was the most exciting restaurant of the year."

The free beer while you wait, the donation of .75 cents from the sale of every entree to the Food Bank for NYC, and the low price point at Mission Chinese (with the exception of the cumin lamb breast [$16] and the veal breast a la orange [$24], nothing on the menu exceeds $13), are part of the formula at a restaurant that has quickly established itself as an exciting venue for those seeking a delicious, affordable, vibrant, unique take on Sichuan cuisine in a room unlike no other in the city. "No other restaurant I reviewed this year," Wells explains, "left me feeling as exhilarated each time I got up from the table."


Another One for Michael White's Altamarea Group?

In addition to the Butterfly and Ristorante Morini, Michael White and his partner Ahmass Fakahany may have another project in the works. The Post learns that BR Guest's Stephen Hanson sold the building at 206 Spring Street that once housed Fiamma, and that the new owner has leased out the three storys of restaurant space to White's Altamarea Group.

Should White open a restaurant in the former space, it would complete a sort of culinary circle in his career. He was the original chef at Fiamma when the restaurant opened in 2002. White left in 2006 to take Scott Conant's place at L'Impero before going on to build his AMG Empire. "The buyer was Corigin Real Estate Group," the Post notes, and "sources said White has been “in and out” of the Spring Street location."

The possiblilty of another new venture comes just in time. Michael White will be speaking on the topic of restaurant expansion at the Gabarron Foundation December 5th with Danny Bowien and Andy Ricker. Tickets for that event are $50 for non members and $35 for members. [NYPost] [Culintro]


Issue #5 is Around the Corner

In our humble opinion, Lucky Peach is the most exciting piece of media, print or otherwise, covering all things culinary. The brainchild of David Chang, Chris Ying, and Peter Meehan, Lucky Peach is doing for the world of food writing the same thing Chang did for New York when he opened Noodle Bar in '04.

Issue #5 is the Chinatown Issue. Momofuku's blog invites readers to "explore what happens when chinese food leaves the motherland," and on Tuesday, November 13th, you can "read up on chinese-korean noodles, the san gabriel valley, opium dens, crab rangoons and magical white balls." The fifth go 'round also features a few words from Anthony Bourdain and recipes from Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien.

Catch Chang tonight on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.


Danny Bowien's Food Knows How to Work the Camera

If you haven't been to Danny Bowien's San Fran import yet, or seen our First Bite, here's another way to see what's going down at 154 Orchard Street.

Mission Chinese Food has only been on the East Coast for two and a half months, but Bowien's creative vision fuels a constantly evolving menu.  The original 23-item-menu from the early days at the end of May now has 28 options.  You can't get those Lamb Cheek Dumplings in Red Oil or the Tea Smoked Eel anymore, but you can get Red Braised Pigs Tails ($10) and "Married Couple's" Beef ($9). 

The large dishes have seen the most changes, though in typical generous Bowien fashion, nothing exceeds $15.  Kung Pao Pastrami ($11) is not likely to disappear anytime soon.  New additions are Sizzlin Cumin Lamb Breast ($13) and Catfish a la Sichuan ($13).

Don't worry, that free keg of beer is still on offer for those waiting for a table which, in our opinion, is always worth the inevitable wait.


"Danny Bowien Was In Swim Trunks"

In his review this week, Wells gives Mission Chinese Food two stars and proves to like Danny Bowien's San Fran import a little more than Adam Platt did. 

Wells hints at the waits you're liable to experience, which happen in any decent restaurant here in the city, especially when its only 30 or so seats.  "Outside on Orchard Street, they were waiting, all right..." "Unseen others were sitting in bars nearby, wondering whether they would order a third round before the phone rang."

Led Zepplin was playing during some of Wells' meal.  "Mr. Bowien does to Chinese food what Led Zeppelin did to the blues. His cooking both pays respectful homage to its inspiration and takes wild, flagrant liberties with it. He grabs hold of tradition and runs at it with abandon, hitting the accents hard, going heavy on the funk and causing all kinds of delicious havoc."

What Danny Bowien is trying to do at 154 Orchard Street is a healthy fusion he himself has dubbed "Americanized Oriental Food."  But, there's more to it than that.  He draws influences from his past.  Bowien is Korean born, adopted and raised in Oklahoma.  He's a generous guy.  Nothing on the menu is more than $15 and 75 cents from every dish goes to the Food Bank for New York

The two stars should be as much a representation of the food/experience at Mission Chinese as they are an honor bestowed on Bowien for his undeniably unique approach and his one-of-a-kind perspective on a cuisine and business model he has made entirely his own.


Danny Bowien Is On a Mission

Mission Chinese started as a pop-up in San Francisco in April of 2010.  Just over a month ago, on May 22nd, 154 Orchard Street became the East Coast home for what the restaurant's website calls chef Danny Bowien's "Americanized Oriental" food.  In just two years, Danny Bowien's unique approach and generosity have his name being thrown around with the likes of David Chang and Andy Ricker.

In his two and a half star review of Mission Chinese Food today, Ryan Sutton refers to Danny as "a philanthropic kind of guy."  Bowien was born in South Korea and rasied by adopted parents in Oklahoma.  He's humble, reluctant to take credit for his mission.  He gives it to "fucking awesome cooks around me to make me look good."  He donates 75 cents from every dish he sells to the Food Bank of New York and his San Fran location has "raised almost $150,000 for the Food Bank, [which makes] you feel like you can mess up a little bit and still be okay. I’m not taking a salary here [in New York], so that I can just put everything back into the restaurant and our cooks."

Bowien is already miles down the road less traveled and his is a name added to the growing list of "high-profile ambassadors for a cuisine in which he has no family roots."  His take on authenticity?  "Who cares anymore?  What's the point?  Authentic isn't even good sometimes.  It's just, do you like the taste or not?  If I stay closed-minded and say I'm not making it if it's not authentic, I can only get so far.  To become great, you can't box yourself in.  I won't allow that."


First Bite: Mission Chinese Food

Welcome to First Bite, a new feature at digestny where we post about some of the city's most anticipated restaurants shortly after they open. We'll take some pics, eat some food, digest, and then report back to you. This time around its Mission Chinese Food, Danny Bowien's San Fran import. On our recent visit, it was made clear why the hot spot is so... hot.

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