Food Adventure Team

Exploring San Francisco, one restaurant at a time.

Mission Chinese Food, Nosh This, and Xanath

Mission Chinese Food
Lung Shan Restaurant
2234 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Suggested by Doomy

Nosh This
20th and Valencia
Monday and Friday evenings
San Francisco, CA

951 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Suggested by Laurie

In attendance:

Where do I even start? Food Adventure Team 2.0: Return of the FATtening was truly epic.

We began at Mission Chinese Food, an offshoot of the much storied and sadly no longer with us Mission Street Food. Let me tell you, this was some damn fine Chinese food, the best Chinese food I’ve ever had. I have no clue if it was authentic but you know what? I really don’t give a shit. It was wonderful food and that’s all that matters.

Because we were a large party, we got the prix fixe menu at the very affordable $25 per person. Plate after plate of wondrous delight was brought out to to us in rapid fire succession. The squeals from our table were plentiful, and Doomy went into a meat fugue before long. Let me tell you about the meat. Here’s a little secret I’ve been harboring: I’ve never been very excited about pork belly. I know, I know. It turns out I’d just never had it prepared correctly. Mission Chinese Food does it right. Their Slow Cooked Char Siu Pork Belly (tea smoked egg, ginger scallion, rolled noodles, cucumber) is one of the most divine things I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. Its caramelized, slightly crisp exterior stuck to my teeth as I bit into the lighter-than-air layer of fat that burst with flavor in my mouth. The beef cheeks were equally tantalizing. We were brought both the Braised Mongolian Beef Cheek (onions, hot peppers, bean sprouts) and the Broccoli Beef (stir fried gai lan, braised beef cheek, oyster, smoked oyster sauce). I believe we deemed it “meat butter”: the most pillowy, tender, fatty beef that you’ve ever devoured. The vegetables were nothing to shake a stick at either; they were all perfectly cooked and seasoned.

We were also brought a variety of nibbles to start, the Tiger Salad (xi’an herbs and lettuces, red perilla, roasted seaweed, turnip vinegar; pictured below), Ma Po Tofu (ground kurobuta pork shoulder, beech mushroom, szechuan peppercorn, flaming chili oil), Thrice Cooked Bacon (rice cakes, bitter melon, tofu skin, scallion, black bean, chili oil), Taiwanese Eggplant (3 types of garlic, hot basil), 7 Chicken Wings with Explosive Chili Pepper, and Lung Shan’s Vegan Delight (shiitake and oyster mushroom dumplings in miso soup). It was truly a feast to behold.

Tiger Salad at Mission Chinese Food
Tiger Salad at Mission Chinese Food

And yet, when we had paid the bill we were still hungry for something a little sweet. Laurie suggested Xanath for its amazing vanilla ice cream, so after thanking Chef Danny Bowien, we headed south toward the ice cream shop. As luck would have it, Nosh This was set up for the evening on the corner of 20th and Valencia. At first all we saw was a sign that said “BACON CRACK!” — we knew whatever was happening had to be good. Sure enough, Bacon Crack lives up to its name as chef Kai Kronfield delivers up a delectable concoction of butter toffee studded with chunks of bacon and covered in chocolate. Yes, it really is as amazing as it sounds.

Bacon crack

He also had Irish Coffee On A Sticks: homemade Jameson marshmallow with a cube of Bailey’s Irish Cream/Ritual Coffee fudge. Lordy. And in case you weren’t in the mood for sweets he was serving up some steamy meat-only Texas chili laced with chocolate. Mmmm.

Nosh This

After we finished our sweet ‘n’ salty treats, we continued on our journey for ice cream. A short half-block later we were there. Xanath is a unique ice cream shop. Their front window is decorated with towers of vanilla beans, and they hand out whole vanilla beans as samples to draw in customers. They have multiple kinds of vanilla ice cream (Madagascar Vanilla, Tahitian Vanilla, Mexican Vanilla) as well as a number of flavors like Pumpkin Pie, Saffron Ginger, and Salted Caramel.

Tower of vanilla beans
More vanilla beans than I ever expect to see in my life

Wanting to appreciate their vanilla ice cream in all its subtle simplicity, I opted for the Mexican Vanilla. I was not disappointed. This is the most vanilla vanilla ice cream you’ll ever taste. It tastes real. It tastes floral, fruity, rich, complex. You will never go back to normal store-bought vanilla ice cream once you’ve tried some of Xanath’s. You might not even go back to chocolate.

Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream

Our rowdy little group took over the shop and shared a multitude of flavors before heading back out into the winter chill, full of so much good food that we didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

Laurie eats his pumpkin pie ice cream

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