Gawker: Food Critics RUINED Mission Chinese Food


We live in a world of restaurant review oversaturation. The second some cool new place like Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco is discovered, its swarming with writers at the Times, Bon Appetit, GQ, and any other place that pays a food critic ungodly sums of money to live like a God. The end result is that such restaurants become overrun with critics and cameramen from Bourdain and the Food Network and you, the common man, will probably have to wait in line for six hours just to get in the fucking place. Food critics don't help readers find restaurants anymore. They RUIN them.

I say all this with the full understanding that most Yelp reviewers are fucking idiots. There's obviously a place in this world for professional food writing. But at this point, it feels as if the entire food critic culture has dissolved into one giant circle jerk, with writers hanging out with chefs and chefs hanging out with writers and chefs and writers judging reality shows together and living inside this bubble of obscene decadence that's completely disconnected from the everyday dining experiences of regular people.

Well, shit.  On one hand, it's easy to dismiss this “woe the common man” criticism as baseless, given MCF's humble beginnings as a cheap food truck parked on a smelly Mission St. corner—never mind their amazing charitable givings to the food bank.  But every time I walk past Mission Chinese with the hopes of delighting my mouth with heaps of Szechuan pickles and thrice cooked bacon, I'm confronted a giant gaggle of idiot food blogger pontificating about the so-called “food truck revolution” outside and walk right past to a cheaper-but-still-remarkable meal at Yamo or Big Lantern.

It wasn't always that way though.  When they first opened, I remember just walking up Lung Shan on a weeknight and sitting right down for dinner, paying a small sum for one of the most innovative meals around.  But that is an increasingly-distant memory, now that Danny Bowien is busy playing rock star with Vice and Bourdain.  Really, the only hopes a “common man” has to getting anywhere near the Mission's most sacred dinner is calling some bike messengers to go and get it for you, just so you can eat it out of a carton on your couch while watching last week's episodes of The Daily Show.

Was this the food critics' fault?  Did they vault these guys into the limelight and prop them up as Gods, making their food worthy of wasting 2 hours of your life on a shitty Mission Street sidewalk?  Perhaps.  Or maybe it's just that fucking good.

[Photo by Nicole Wong | via Grub Street]

Comments (13)

I think the demise of Mission Chinese is just a reflection of the demise of the Mission. I moved from Bernal to the Mission in 2000 and lived in the same janky studio for 10 years, but I finally got priced out of the neighborhood and fed up with the environment at the end of last year.

It’s gotten worse since. The bridge and tunnel south bay lurchers were always around, but now it’s every night and they are an overwhelming Iphone illuminated swarm. Even places like the booth are succumbing, mentioning Yamo on the internet is bad - the swarm will take it over as well. The Mission can’t have nice things anymore. I’m sure that before the year is out there won’t be a square foot of Valencia that won’t offer $12 sliders or $28 Pho. Mission Chinese was a good spot for a few moments, but now it’s filed with account executives, interface designers and social media experts who laugh like cartoon dogs and proclaim Dr. Teeth to be a ‘dive bar’. The food is still nice, but it’s not worth the social shame associated with the brand.

P.S. I had no idea how much bile I had on this issue until I typed this - I need a hug.

Shouldn’t “they” be “we” in your final paragraph here?


“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

     - Yogi Berra

Don’t worry everyone, the data bubble will burst and if you can stick it out long enough, it may become an enjoyable situation to live here again. Or not.

Big Lantern is terrible. Everything is too sweet.

It is that fucking good.

Everyone makes me nervous or uncomfortable in one way or another around here. Just go at off hours if possible.

‘don’t mention yamo’? huh, yamo was on the front page of yelp for quite some time. it’s not great, but it sure is a great value.

Avez-vous du Grey Poupon? Suckerz……

Yeah, sadly I have not been to Mission Chinese in many months, because of this. I’m sure it’s still delicious, I’m just constitutionally unwilling to wait in lines to be seated at a restaurant. I’d rather travel for 40 minutes to a different restaurant than wait for 30 minutes to get into one.

It’s funny that Danny Bowein once ate at the restaurant I worked at, sat at the bar and lamented “I only like coming here during the off hours” (when it just got a wee bit busy for us) Now he’s got a MCF in NYC. The face that MCF is in the Mission ruined it for everyone. I can’t think of any other food concept in SF with as much irony in it (including the chef itself). Who cares, just eat some where else. Other small businesses can you your patronage.

f*ck MCF.

Mission Yuppie Food ruined Lung Shan. Next, some douche will start serving “artisinal” burgers inside of Whiz, or maybe “artisinal” tortas inside of Little Castle.

Please hurry up and kill the Mission already and move on to virgin pastures to defile.