Mission Chinese Food's Ma Po Tofu, One of Our 100 Favorite Dishes

missiontofu.jpg
Roland Tanglao via Flickr

No. 9: Ma po tofu from Mission Chinese Food (154 Orchard Street, 212-529-8800)

Mission Chinese boasts a number of wacky hits, but we order the ma po tofu every time we sit down.

We're glad Danny Bowien decided to go bicoastal after his irreverent Chinese food joint in San Francisco's Mission captured national attention. When he put down roots in the Lower East Side, he gave us wins like thrice-cooked bacon--our best unhealthy meal in Best of NYC 2013--and Kung Pao pastrami as well as sleeper hits like the braised pea leaves, which float in a pumpkin and peanut soup that you shouldn't miss. But our perennial favorite--and the thing we insist on ordering every time we stop in--is the ma po tofu. The brimming pot of angry-looking red stew comes swimming with juicy pork and cubes of silken soy. It won't melt your face off in just one bite, but Bowien's use of Szechuan peppers is thorough--and by the time you scrape the dregs dry, your jaw will be numb, your brow sweaty, and your taste buds fundamentally changed. Oh, and not a meat-eater? Mission makes a vegan version of this dish, too.

We just dropped our Best of NYC issue, our annual love letter to what's great in this town and where you'll find our picks for the very best this city has to offer when it comes to dozens of cuisines, restaurants, dishes, and drinks. As a side dish, you can get a taste of our contenders as we count down, in no particular order, our 100 favorite dishes from around the boroughs, a list of laudable eats worth tracking down right now.

No. 100: Taqueria Lower East Side's carnitas
No. 99: Tartine's steamed mussels
No. 98: Malu's Cookie Monster ice cream
No. 97: Coppelia's Havana salad
No. 96: Falansai's clay pot catfish
No. 95: Uncle Boons' Khao Soi Kaa Kai
No. 94: ABC Cocina's salted caramel "impossible" flan
No. 93: Shu Jiao Fu Zhou Cuisine's peanut noodles
No. 92: Distilled's country-fried duck and waffles
No. 91: Calliope's octopus salad
No. 90: Charlie Bird's diver scallop crudo
No. 89: Silver Moon Bakery's fig and pepper bread
No. 88: Stage Restaurant's egg, cheese, and sausage on a roll
No. 87: Manzanilla's Marbella's Full Moon
No. 86: Bia's Cary Ga
No. 85: La Newyorkina's pineapple jalapeño paleta
No. 84: Empellón Taqueria's skirt steak tacos
No. 83: Sugar Sweet Sunshine's pistachio cupcake
No. 82: El Chivito d'Oro's skirt steak
No. 81: Saro Bistro's satarash
No. 80: Oda House's adjaruli khatchapuri
No. 79: Hill Country Chicken's pie milkshake
No. 78: Fletcher's Brooklyn Barbecue's chili mac
No. 77: The Musket Room's steak and cheese pie
No. 76: Battery Harris' Baked Patties
No. 75: Legend's Dan Dan Noodles
No. 74: Pure Thai's Nakorn-Patom duck noodles soup
No. 73: Melt Bakery's Morticia
No. 72: Calexico's Baja Fish Taco
No. 71: Sushi Dojo's Omakase
No. 70: Bear's smoked whitefish
No. 69: Locanda Verde's corn ravioli
No. 68: Ghenet's Ghenet Combination
No. 67: Ample Hills Creamery's ice cream
No. 66: Burger & Barrel's Burger
No. 65: Radegast's Munich pretzel
No. 64: Mighty Quinn's Burnt End Baked Beans
No. 63: Cho Dang Gol's spicy galbi jjim
No. 62: Tacos Mexico's chorizo taco
No. 61: Pork Slope's loaded nachos
No. 60: Pine Box Rock Shop's bloody mary
No. 59: Franny's antipasto plate
No. 58: Num Pang's curry red lentil soup
No. 57: Khe-Yo's Jurgielewicz duck salad
No. 56: Dough's doughnut (any doughnut)
No. 55: King Noodle's ma po tofu fries
No. 54: Terri's green power smoothie
No. 53: Estela's beef tartare
No. 52: Pho Grand's pork chop pho
No. 51: Stella 34 Trattoria's chocolate gelato
No. 50: RedFarm's spicy crispy beef
No. 49: Bhojan's daal tadka
No. 48: Pig and Khao's khao soi
No. 47: The Grand's handmade pierogies
No. 46: Dominick's Deli's Dante's Inferno
No. 45: The Queens Kickshaw's deep-fried squash blossoms
No. 44: Black Tree's squash blossom sandwich
No. 43: Nan Xiang's xiao long bao
No. 42: Jones Wood Foundry's bangers and mash
No. 41: White Bear's wontons
No. 40: The Harrison's toasted couscous and farro salad
No. 39: Katja's sausage sampler
No. 38: Magpies' strawberry-balsamic magpie
No. 37: Bunker's pho ga
No. 36: Fritzl's Lunch Box's burger
No. 35: Biang's lotus root salad
No. 34: BrisketTown's brisket
No. 33: Bronx Ale House's alehouse nachos
No. 32: Shinobi Ramen's mabo ramen
No. 31: Pok Pok NY's papaya pok pok
No. 30: Land of Plenty's Szechuan Pork Dumplings
No. 29: Financier's pistachio macaron
No. 28: Arancini Bros' Nutella arancini
No. 27: Di Fara's calzone
No. 26: Atera's bone marrow
No. 25: The Mermaid Inn's brunch bread basket
No. 24: Hospoda's fried cherries
No. 23: Xe May's Lam'bretta
No. 22: Meatballs Alsatian from Café Cluny
No. 21: Café Ghia's biscuits and gravy
No. 20: Espardeñas from Toro
No. 19: Beef noodle soup from Lan Zhou
No. 18: Soup and half roll combo from Luke's Lobster
No. 17: Spicy pork quesadilla from La Pasadita
No. 16: Pastrami sandwich from Loeser's Deli
No. 15: wd~50's chilled egg drop soup
No. 14: Taqueria Rancho Escondido's barbacoa tacos
No. 13: Montmartre's pot-au-pho
No. 12: Nom Wah Tea Parlor's dim sum samplers
No. 11: Somtum Der's tum poo-plara
No. 10: Buvette's cassoulet

Know a dish we shouldn't miss? E-mail us.




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Mission Chinese Food

154 Orchard St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

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