Talk about a pivot. The luminous, nimble Michael Mina, one of the country’s most creative chefs, launched MINA Family Kitchen back in April 2020 right after it became clear that COVID-19 pandemic was not a fleeting disruption but rather an unwanted longterm visitor. MINA Family Kitchen is a pickup and delivery service operating out of the Michael Mina restaurant at 252 California Street that offers popular menu items from PABU, International Smoke, and the flagship Michael Mina.
The brilliance of this move was not only its prescience in terms of the subsequent tanking of the restaurant industry, it was also a lifesaver for many of Mina’s employees, resulting in the ability to save some jobs and provide meals for those employees who were furloughed. Every meal purchased from MINA Family Kitchen enables the company to offer family meals to those who lost work due to the pandemic. And the food is fantastic, of course.
My family and I have gotten takeout a couple times a week since quarantine began, mostly as a way of supporting local restaurants, but I’m often underwhelmed by the food after transporting it home, and even more dismayed by the lack of packaging innovation. MINA Family Kitchen gets both of these essential aspects of a good takeout experience just right.
Packaging is sturdy and compostable and our meal arrived having retained its beautiful plating and presentation. It was package up in flat boxes, so it was easy to carry without spilling or moving things around.
The menu is a melange of Mina greatest hits, including black pepper and blue crab udon, fried chicken with honey butter, yuzu kosho honey and jalapeño creamed corn, lemongrass pork bánh mì, and early girl tomato shakshuka. There’s also more traditional breakfast dishes (with Mina spins, of course), like coconut pancakes and breakfast sandwiches.
Dirty Diane’s Jalapeño Mixer is a must-order, a purée of fresh jalapeños, cilantro and warming coriander. You can order cocktail boxes for a group that serve 10-15 people put together by Anthony Attanasio and his bar team, including the bloody Mary mixes, “Little Italy,” and “Bartender’s Friend,” each of which comes with five recipe cards for variations on each theme.
Here are two recipes to get you started, one from PABU and one from International Smoke:
Japanese Negroni (PABU)
1oz Gin (Suntory Roku Gin)
1oz Sweet Vermouth (Punt e mes Vermouth)
1oz Bitters (Campari)
1 Fresh Orange Peel
Directions:Pour gin, vermouth and bitters into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with an orange peel.
Gina Jamaica (International Smoke)
1oz Vodka (Ketel One)
1.5oz Grapefruit Juice
1.5oz Cucumber Basil Juice
Top off with Ginger beer
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Belgium glass over ice. Garnish with a grapefruit quarter.
MINA Family Kitchen is one of the most creative and hopeful ventures to come out of these difficult times. I hope more culinary entrepreneurs continue to up their game for the benefit of both diners and restaurant industry employees.