Misión 19 cocina de autor - September 2012

>> Monday, September 3, 2012

Date of Dining: 9/1/2012
Price: $55-75 per person
Location: Misión San Javier 10643, Zona Urbana Río, Tijuana, B.C., México

The Quick Bit

+ well refined and precisely executed food
+ intense and complex flavors
+ great value
+ unique cocktails
Δ some inconsistency in cooking temperature
Δ meal could have had better progression

Over one year ago, fellow food enthusiast Dining Diva began speaking about how great the food Chef Javier Plascencia produced at his restaurant Mision 19. This was followed by the now famous street gourmet article that really popularized Chef Plascencia. In March, I was lucky enough to attend Chef Plascencia's pop-up event in San Diego. When fellow food writer {insert-food} and Dining Diva discussed a group trip to Tijuana, I was very excited to attend.
Chef Plascencia's food is "Baja Mediterranean," which to me means that it is heavily Mexican inspired, but with elements of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine mixed in. Since March, Chef Plascencia's star has really been rising and he is seldom found cooking at his restaurants during the weekends. 
Traveling to Tijuana can be scary, but Dining Diva assured me that unless you were looking for trouble, it is quite safe. Further, Misión 19 is in the "nice" part of town - it was a short 10 minute cab ride from the border to the restaurant. Our cab drivers (to and from the restaurant) even spoke passable English. 


As we settled into the restaurant, we were encouraged to order drinks before even seeing the menu.
mezcalero - tropical fruit puree, mandarin lemon juice, chile de arbol, mezcal, chapulin salt
We started with the mezcalero, which I thought was going to be more like a margarita, but ended as a foofy drink. The tropical fruits and mandarin juice were really well balanced against the mezcal with a complex symphony of sweet, tart, sour, and alcohol.
tamarind martini - piquin chile salt, coconut pineapple spume
The tamarind martini was described as the signature drink, being on the menu since the restaurant opened. The martini had a really nice texture with the creaminess of the coconut spume, but the drink was a little sweet for my tastes. 


The appetizers were described to be the "best" part of the menu. At the price point, and the difficulty in getting to the destination, we decided to order two appetizers per person to get more of a tasting menu experience.
asado de cochinillo - pork belly, corn tortilla crepes, cilantro, selection of salsas
salsa accompaniment
This was the most flavorful dish of the night. The pork came with some corn tortillas (not pictured) that were prepared more as crepes. The pork itself was cooked to be extremely tender, and the accompanying sauces really made the dish interactive and fun. The whole experience reminded me of a great peking duck as the tortillas were similar to peking duck crepe, and the fatty, crunchy, sweet pork was really elevated to the level more similar to duck.
tiradito de lengua de res - beef tongue, radish,  arugula, onions, elephant garlic, shimeji mushrooms
The technical execution of this dish was quite the marvel. The tongue itself was cooked perfectly and acted as vessel to carry flavors of rich umami, pepper, and textural crunch. 
ensalada de nopal curado - nopales, pepita-cilantro pesto, shrimp, burrata, apple, arugula
This was one of my favorite dishes. The nopales were chopped fine and prepared almost as if they were small noodles. They were extremely tender and flavorful. The biggest surprise to me was the pepita cilantro pesto; the pesto really integrated well with the other parts of the salad to tie together the dish. The burrata had an extremely creamy milky texture and really added a rich flavor to the dish.
pulpo a la plancha - grilled octopus, crispy fried potato, black garlic, garlic puree, pistachio,
tomato, fried bread croutons, habanero salsa
This was the most memorable and most complex dish of the night. The pistachios, tomatoes, and habanero salsa really integrated well with the flavors of the octopus to give a full-flavored bite. The black garlic added a great element of sweetness while the garlic puree served as an additional optional sauce. When the octopus was grilled well and delicate, this was the most complex and flavorful mouthful of the entire evening.


lengua y costilla de res en coccion lenta - beef short ribs, beef tongue, salsa verde, masa dumplings
popped hominy
before sauce
The short rib dish was the best entree of the evening. The short rib was extremely tender, and there was an extra addition of fat to add even more unctuous flavor. The tongue was a nice change of pace from the short rib. The beef was grass fed, and the true flavors of the beef really sang true - I hadn't enjoyed beef like this since Chef Schmidt left Blanca. 
tablita - 48 hour sous vide beef, beluga lentils, cocoa, vanilla marinated squash
The sous vide beef was really well prepared as well, but paled slightly against the short rib dish. While the short dish was more about accentuating the flavors of beef, this dish seemed more about letting the beef flavors shine on their own. The cocoa added a nice element of bitterness that really brought out even more beef flavors. The beluga lentils surprisingly added a nice textural accent to the dish.


pop tarts de la infancia - brown sugar and cinamon pop tarts, chocolate malt, strawberry ice cream
The ice creams were really enjoyable as there was a lot more cream involved in the process, so there was a lot more creamy richness with each bite. That said, this dish seemed out of place with the entire evening and needed a lot more work. The pop tarts themselves were too bready, and the proportion of tart to dip was off.
red velvet - molten chocolate rapsberry cake, ice cream, oat crumble, grape gelee
This was a great dessert. The chocolate cake was extremely well prepared and wasn't too sweet. The raspberry in the cake really added a nice flavor boost to the cake. The ice cream was also extremely creamy and enjoyable.


Overall, the entire meal at Misión 19 was extremely enjoyable. While the meal lacked a single dish that jumped up and screaming "amazing," the level of all the dishes was generally high. The appetizers were composed extremely well and were difficult to follow up on, but the entrees were good as well. While Dining Diva mentioned the desserts had been a weakness in the past, we had one hit and one miss (but both new), so it seems like they will improve over time. 
I'm extremely happy I got to experience Chef Plascencia's food on his home turf and look forward to more visits to Misión 19 as well as the other restaurants.
For the extremely high level of execution on the whole, Misión 19 is awarded the gigabyte award.


caninecologne September 5, 2012 at 7:05 AM  

Great write up on Mision 19. The food looks really amazing. I've been wanting to try this place since my friends from TJ raved about it.

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