There is something so endearing about family-style meals. The simplicity of all ordering the same thing (though it’s not ideal for vegetarians), reaching into the bowl with chopsticks, the hungry grunting in chorus around the table — it all makes for festivity. That’s one thing that’s so attractive about the Mission Chinese pop-up going on now at Frankie’s 457 in Brooklyn. At first slated for one month, the dates were extended again and again, so that now you can enjoy the prix-fixe meal ($40) featuring Mission Chinese’s signature dishes through August.
Originally from San Francisco, where a location still exists, Mission Chinese’s New York branch had to give up their place in Manhattan over the winter after insurmountable health-code violations. New Yorkers mourned the disappearance of chef and co-founder Danny Bowien’s innovative and spicy Americanized Szechuan-style cooking. In part thanks to this summer’s pop-up bringing in revenue and support for the restaurant, Mission Chinese will reportedly re-open in a new Manhattan space in the near future.
A recent visit to the pop-up in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens did not disappoint. Dish after dish was deeply flavorful and spicy as promised; the toasted sesame on the cabbage salad was pleasantly crunchy (try it at home, thanks to Sam Sifton’s recipe), and the next day my fellow diners and I were texting each other with fond memories of the Kung Pao pastrami. Servers in loose t-shirts and ripped jeans proudly explained the preparation of each dish. The bar offers a modest but very adequate wine, cocktail, beer and sake list.
What is it about a pop-up that sounds more interesting than a normal restaurant? In culinary capitals, diners often thirst for the exciting and new. Pop-ups create buzz and excitement around an establishment. Del Posto patry chef Brooks Headly recently attracted hundreds of people to a one-day veggie burger pop-up. Um — veggie burgers! A Hawaiian pop-up has also been making a splash in Williamsburg this summer.
Read about more Szechuan cuisine on Food Republic: