This is the Sichuan restaurant that inspired Mission Chinese in San Francisco

On a recent Saturday evening, the hottest day of 2021 for San Francisco, owner Kenny Zhang is behind the counter at Spices, head down, multitasking with a landline tucked between his ear and shoulder while scrolling through an iPad. Zhang doesn’t look up for a solid 5 minutes while he scribbles away phone orders on his pad of paper and confirms digital orders from the likes of DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats. It’s a busy night for business.  But that’s how he likes it, especially during a pandemic.

“We’re grateful that our customers helped support our small business. They kept doing phone call [orders] and they couldn’t walk in, but they just stand outside to order in person and wait for the food,” Zhang said.

Spices has served the people of San Francisco since 2003. The original owner, a Taiwanese man, started the restaurant as a mix between Sichuan and

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