SF Chronicle critic Michael Bauer is no longer impressed by the cooking at chef Danny Bowien's breakout restaurant Mission Chinese Food. In his latest review, Bauer knocks the restaurant down to 1.5 stars for food (they were previously at 3 stars out of 4) and to 1.5 stars overall (they were previously at 2). The big problem as Bauer sees it is that Bowien isn't in the kitchen enough: "I learned on a revisit this week that without him in the kitchen, the San Francisco Mission Chinese is simply a dive, without the charm his inventive and soulful food gave it." Bauer follows up with a blog post titled "Mission Chinese no longer lives up to its hype."
As Bauer points out, Bowien is now splitting his time between the West Coast and East Coast where in New York City he has the white hot Mission Cantina and the temporarily shuttered Mission Chinese Food. In San Francisco, Bauer finds that many dishes "miss the mark," including a "dry as sawdust" salt-cod fried rice and a "greasy" ma po tofu. "A restaurant needs more than good ideas," writes Bauer in his blog post, "it needs an exacting hand executing the ideas, night after night."