West Covina’s 5C’s Louisiana Seafood to close

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A New Orleans-style Cajun and Creole restaurant in West Covina will
close its doors Sunday after nearly four decades in business in the Los
Angeles area.

Family-owned 5C’s Louisiana Seafood restaurant has served the region in various locations since 1971.

“Throughout the years we have had ups and downs, yet able to recover,”
the owners said in a statement printed and hung throughout the West
Covina Parkway eatery. “But, due to the present slow economy … this
time we are forced to close the doors.”

A staff member said Sunday will be the restaurant’s final operating day.

The full statement from the restaurant’s owners is pictured below.

At right, customers dine at 5C’s Louisiana Seafood on Friday, July 31, in West Covina. (Photos by Evelyn Barge / Staff)

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Dining on a budget: Beijing Cuisine Garden in WC

By Emma Gallegos

If it’s lunch hour, my coworkers and I are probably at Hong Kong Plaza in West Covina, even though the plaza has gotten emptier and emptier over the course of the year.

It’s been a trying year for restaurants and anyone else angling for customers’ waning expendable income. The year was especially tough for businesses at Hong Kong Plaza, which is awaiting the arrival of a new supermarket called HK2 owned by a younger generation of the family that owned the Hong Kong Supermarket that used to fill the gaping vacancy in the middle as the plaza’s anchor.

But we still have a few expendable dollars, so at least once a week we’re back at the plaza visiting old favorites like Krua Thai or the 1+1 Dumpling House. 

It helps to plan ahead and figure out what we’re doing, but we still feel confident winging it and driving around the empty parking lot blindly and picking our next culinary adventure: Should we try Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Korean or Thai?  

Beijing Cuisine Garden exemplifies the spirit of Hong Kong Plaza adventure: quick, reasonably priced, fresh and intense flavors. 

None of the dishes’ flavors are bland or halfway: They’re spicy, salty, oily and sometimes tinged with a splash of wine. When the food went wrong, it went too far in this direction.

There was a BMW parked out in front of Beijing Cuisine Garden and men in business suits inside the restaurant, but for those of us in a different tax bracket there are lunch specials, ranging from $4.95 to $6.95, that include rice and a soup of the day.  

The waiter recommended the dishes in kung pao style, and, indeed, the dish that blew me away (and made me forget subsequent mediocre dishes) was the Kung Pao Shrimp ($6.95). Fresh shrimp tossed in with a flaming mix of bell peppers, onions and red peppers. 

The Kung Pao Beef ($5.95) had the same addictive spicy sauce, which would have been a recipe for success except that the beef was a little tough.

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There’s nothing that cools the palate like a plate of spiced cucumbers – unless of course you decide to add some jalapenos, as was the case with the Peking Cold Cucumber with Parsley and Hot Pepper ($2.95).

The dishes that had enough liquid to qualify as stews were weaker bets.

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I mostly enjoyed Fish Fillet in Hot Bean Sauce ($6.95), juicy medallions of white fish and strips of tofu submerged in a red hot sauce with a hint of a rice wine. It could have stood to have a little less oil and salt.

My coworker could barely eat the Hot and Spicy Vegetable with Beef ($8.50), which came in a thick, brown broth that she said was also just too oily and salty.

Avoid the submerged dishes but try something new in Hong Kong Plaza. You don’t have to have a BMW. All you have to do is literally go the extra mile from the Westfield West Covina for something that won’t be bland, boring or overpriced. And, for now, there’s no traffic.

Beijing Cuisine Garden is at 965 S. Glendora Ave., West Covina, and can be reached at (626) 851-8875.

Subway’s new Orchard Chicken Salad sandwich

Since it was only $5 for a foot-long for a limited time only, I thought I would give Subway another chance by trying its new Orchard Chicken Salad sandwich.

It’s like a Waldorf salad with cubed pieces of cooked chicken, cranberries, raisins, and small pieces of apple. I’m assuming it’s all tossed in a mayonnaise sauce but it didn’t seem too heavy or thick so that’s good.

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I’m not a huge fan of cranberries so I must admit I picked them out of my sandwich. The raisins were golden and added a nice sweet flavor without overpowering. If there were apples in there they must have been green ones and soft, because I don’t remember any crunchiness.

I had my sandwich on wheat with spinach instead of lettuce and avocado at 60 cents extra per 6 inches. It’s not much on the caloric and fat factor either at 340 calories, 7 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber for six inches.

I must say it was better than I expected and maybe the avocado helped but I just might try this sandwich again. Especially if it’s under $5 for the six inches or just $5 for the full foot.

NEXT UP: THE ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN – TUNA vs TUNA. I love tuna and I will face off Subway’s tuna sandwich with Quizno’s Big Kahuna Tuna in the final phase of this lunch war.

Quizno’s Bullets to go!

At only $3 a pop, I tried a few of the five varieties available of Quizno’s Bullets, which are the same offerings for the $4 foot-long Torpedoes.

I’m not big on turkey but I thought I would give the Pesto Turkey Bullet a try first.

The sandwich with thin-sliced turkey, red wine vinaigrette, mozzarella cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, topped with basil pesto and toasted in a ciabatta bread was all snuggled in its own paper sleeve for on-the-go munching.

Perfect for when I eat at my desk while checking emails, messages, etc….

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The warm and toasty 8 inches of sandwich was just enough to save room for chips and a drink or if you’re feeling really ravenous, another sandwich.

Even though this is the first one I tried, I must say it is my favorite and all because of the pesto.

The fresh ingredients were great but the pesto really brought it all together. I usually like to add some peperoncinis or some of their Batch 81 sauce, which has a nice kick to it, to my sandwiches but the pesto sauce was so flavorful it didn’t need anything else and I didn’t want to ruin it.

The second variety I tried was the Italian with pepperoni, spicy capicola, ham, mozzarella cheese and red wine vinaigrette, and chopped lettuce and tomatoes.

I liked the spicy capicola and ham, but the vinaigrette didn’t impress as much as the pesto did so this seemed like a basic Italian sub.

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The next sandwich I tried was the Beef, Bacon and Cheddar with thin sliced roast beef, crispy pieces of bacon, mayonnaise and cheddar.

I liked that there wasn’t much mayo in this sandwich because I hate when I have to wipe off excess mayo that’s oozing out the side of a sandwich or burger. If anything I would prefer no mayo.

The roast beef and cheddar was nice but it was the crispy bacon, not greasy either, that made this one my next favorite.

There is still a Turkey Club and Big Kahuna Tuna that I will try next, but so far these little bullet-sized sandwiches are worth their $3 price tag.

For a few bucks more you can make it a combo with chips and a drink. 

NEXT TIME: SUBWAY’S $5 FOOTLONGS

Dining on a budget: Tortas Sinaloa in Baldwin Park

By Claudia S. Palma

I’ve passed by Tortas Sinaloa plenty of times as I drive through Baldwin Park and it always catches my eye, mainly because of the name.

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My mom and many of my family are from Sinaloa, Mexico. Even though I lived there for a few years when I was younger, I don’t recall much about the city, especially its food.

I visited Los Mochis, Sinaloa, for a few days a few years ago but mainly ate at my uncle’s house and at the neighbors’. It was neat to see how many households set up little shops selling various types of small food plates – such as tacos, rice and beans, tortas and more – right from their front door. No license or grading from any governing body needed.

But tortas as I thought I knew them were not the same in Sinaloa.

It all depends on the ingredients. Tortas are usually made using a telera bread, which is thinner and wider than a bolillo, another Mexican bread. 

In Los Mochis, my aunt would make me a sandwich using a telera and fill it with beans and maybe sprinkle some queso fresco, a crumbly, mild, unaged white cheese. This sandwich was called huaraches or sandals. Before that visit, I would have just thought it was a torta with beans and cheese.

I was very curious to see what served as tortas at Tortas Sinaloa.

The restaurant, situated in a little strip of shops in the Home Depot lot right off the 10 Freeway, had a simple yet roomy interior.

The tabletops are embelisshed with a colorful fruit design and the walls are decorated with beautiful murals.

The counter to the right was lined with a row of large plastic containers filled with agua fresca, freshly made water-based fruit beverages.

The tortas menu had several choices, from the simple ones with meat and avocado or meat and cheese to combos and specialties, each with its own special name.

The Cancun torta ($4.99) was a chicken milanesa (thinly sliced and breaded) with ham, cheese, avocado and a slice of tomato. The Hawaii ($3.99) comes with ham, pineapple, cheese, avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce.

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I decided to go all out and try the Sinaloa Especial ($5.99), which came with ham, milanesa, salchicha (sliced and grilled hot dog wiener), shredded chicken, cheese, avocado and tomato.

The soft, grilled telera bread was thin enough not to take over the sandwich and thick enough to hold everything in. 

I loved the combination of meats inside, though the grilled greasy taste of the milanesa and the salchicha overpowered the chicken and the ham.

Next time I think I will try one of the more simpler tortas like the pastor con aguacate, which is marinated pork meat and avocado with lettuce, tomato and onion for $4.75.

I also had to try one of the aguas frescas, sitting there all nice and cold. I had a choice of lemon, horchata, watermelon, a fruit blend, melon, jamaica and tamarind. I went with the refreshing melon or cantaloupe melon. Kid’s size is 99 cents, medium $1.99 and large for $2.35. It totally hit the spot on a hot day.

Tortas Sinaloa also offers tacos, burritos, quesadillas, chimichangas, and other side offerings like the molletes I ordered for $2.99.

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Why they are called molletes I don’t know, but they are half slices of telera bread grilled and topped with beans, chorizo or sausage and cheese.

There is also sweet molletes, which my brothers and I used to make as kids even though we didn’t know what they were called at the time. We would just get some teleras or bolillos, slice them, grill them, smear some butter and sprinkle sugar on top – delish and cheap!

They also offer smoothies, mixed juice drinks and other desserts like flan and banana split.

Tortas Sinaloa has two locations in Corona, another in Fontana and one in Tijuana, Mexico, if you ever travel that way. 

I don’t know when I’ll make it to Los Mochis again but now I have another point of reference for tortas.

Tortas Sinaloa is at 14510 Towne Center Dr., S-C, in Baldwin Park. For information and to-go orders, call (626) 338-9555.

KFC Fill-Up Box

I gave Kentucky Fried Chicken a shot first in my exploration of the $5 lunch wars.

First off I was mistaken, I thought the $5 Fill-Up Box came with two pieces of its grilled chicken, a side and biscuit and regular drink, but there are actually quite a few options.

Instead of just two pieces of chicken, you can also choose from five pieces of wings, chicken strips, or a twister wrap.

I went with the five pieces of their version of hot wings, you know the ones without the sauce. The wings themselves were good, not great, I still prefer sauce-drenched hot wings, but they were pretty filling.

I went with a side of potato wedges and barbecue sauce to dip into, but I had maybe a handful and I was full.

Maybe it was the heat but I couldn’t eat much, so I would say I definitely got a good deal for my $5.

My growing teenage sister, who has a bigger appetite than me, finished her twister wrap box and said she was happily full, well at least for another hour.

I live right across from a KFC so if I was really hungry and didn’t want to drive anywhere I would definitely scrounge up $5 to get myself a meal there, but I can’t say I would go out of my way to eat there.

NEXT UP: QUIZNO’S BULLETS.

The $5 lunch wars

With the economic recession not looking to drastically improve any time soon, many people are keeping their wallets tight and looking to get more bang for their buck.

Many restaurants and fast-food chains are taking note and lowering their prices or offering more value-menu-style items to their customers.

Just like the grilled chicken wars, there is now the $5 lunch war. This war has three competitors though with Subway, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Quizno’s competing for lunch time supremacy.

Subway took the first blow with its $5 footlongs (no, please don’t sing the song).

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Eight of their sandwich varieties in foot-long size for a simple low price – tuna, BLT, Meatball Marinara, Oven Roasted Chicken Breast, Spicy Italian, Black Forest Ham, Cold Cut Combo and Veggie Delite.

Then Quizno’s hit back with Torpedoes at $4. The foot-long sandwiches come in five varieties – Italian, Big Kahuna Tuna, Pesto Turkey, Turkey Club and Beef, Bacon and Cheddar.

Most recently, KFC has introduced its $5 Fill-Up Box working to outdo the sandwich mavens by offering a complete meal. The box comes with two pieces of its new grilled chicken, one side and biscuit and a drink.

And now Quizno’s has added a junior version of their Torpedoe sandwiches with Bullets – at just eight inches of toasty sandwich.

To be honest I haven’t had a Subway sandwich in over a year. Not since I found Bionicos in Baldwin Park with their freshly made, toasted sandwiches, complete with all the fixins at less than $5 have I craved anything at Subway.

And as soon as I tried for Quizno’s for the first time about five years ago, I prefer it over Subway, when I could afford it.

So now with its new value sandwiches I can definitely forego the brown bag lunch at least once a week and eat out.

Over this week going into next week, I will give these $5 lunches a try. I will even give Subway another try.

TELL ME WHICH LUNCH VALUES YOU “SPLURGE” ON.

Dining on a budget: Arigato Japanese Restaurant in Azusa

By Amanda Newfield, Correspondent

Arigato Japanese Restaurant in Azusa was delightfully satisfying in the most Japanese way, even if I nearly missed the restaurant as I drove up Azusa Avenue.

The face of the venue is nothing special, with a small and almost non-existent porch. But it was the inside of the restaurant that caught my attention.

As I ventured into a narrow building and walked past the sushi bar, I noticed cherry blossoms and a Japanese woman painted on the wall to my left and old style brick that reminded me of the east coast to the right.

The ambiance was peaceful as a Japanese restaurant should be – the restaurant was not too loud and yet not so quiet that one feels compelled to whisper.

The server was pleasant and attentive but not overbearing.

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Then came the food – in a prompt manner, by the way – and it was more than I expected. The $9.95 Dynamite Roll lived up to its name with scallops and crab covering the roll with a sweet soy sauce to top it off. The fish was fresh and tasty and the rice was sticky and delicious.

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What Japanese lunch is complete without tempura? The vegetable tempera was good. I was a little caught off guard by the tempura-covered bell pepper, but the crispy and fresh shrimp tempura was superb.

Arigato, which means thank you in Japanese, offers more types of rolls then I could have asked for, from spicy tuna to Hawaiian volcano. The choices were almost overwhelming.

I decided to be daring and ordered the $4.95 Eel Avocado Roll, which did not disappoint. The eel and avocado were fresh and satisfying; it was a good-size roll for the price.

The family-owned restaurant is at 722 N. Azusa Ave. in Azusa. Operation hours vary. For reservations or to call ahead an order, you can reach the restaurant at (626) 334-5545. Or for menu information or business hours visit www.mrarigato.com.

Dining on a budget: Cafe Verona in Diamond Bar

By Maritza Velazquez

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But for me, it’s almost nonexistent. I enjoy my sleep and I’m not willing to wake up even a few minutes earlier to prepare myself some eggs or even a piece of toast.

On weekdays, I let my stomach rumble for a while before I scurry off in pursuit of a meal. 

The weekends are the only exception, when I occasionally indulge in my favorite breakfast foods – French toast, pancakes or omelets. 

In lieu of the same old dishes at Denny’s or IHOP, I’ve recently opted for Cafe Verona, a quaint bagelry in Diamond Bar. The place is nothing spectacular but it has unique food offerings, as well as a wide selection of coffee and other beverages. 

On some Sunday mornings, I head to the cafe for the bagel omelets, which range from $4 to $5. They have a few choices, including my favorite, the veggie bagel omelet.

For $3.35, it comes with bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and cheese. The omelet is cooked and placed between the toasted bagel of your choice. For me, it was onion. 

 

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Other bagel options include spinach parmesean, jalapeno cheese, cranberry, chocolate chip sourdough and garlic.

If you want to take some bagels home with you, it’ll cost you $9.95 for a dozen. 

There’s also a special – for $3.95 you get a small coffee and choice of plain, veggie, ham or bacon bagel omelets. 

I also tried the strawbana smoothie for $3.95, made with real strawberries, bananas and vanilla yogurt. 

If you go for lunch, there’s a lunch special – a ham, turkey or tuna sandwich with potato salad and dill pickles for $4.25. 

For healthy alternatives, there are pocket sandwiches prepared in pita bread, as well as a good selection of salads. 

The cafe has a great patio with bistro tables and shaded by a verdana. Most times when I come here, I order a coffee and some breakfast and sit down with a newspaper. 

Others do the same and it’s a nice place to meet up with a small contingent of friends. 

Cafe Verona is located in the Ralph’s shopping center, 1138 S. Diamond Bar Blvd. in Diamond Bar. For more information, call (909) 860-2044.

Dining on a budget: Rolling Sushi in Duarte

By Lafayette C. Hight, Jr.

A couple of things threw me for a loop when I walked into Rolling Sushi in Duarte.

First were the high-boy tables and chairs, which are typically found in any type of casual-dining establishment other than a sushi bar, (it took several hours of mind-racking before I would remember that it used to be a sandwich shop/ice cream parlor) and the second was the absence of an actual sushi bar. 

But I decided to focus on the reason I was there, a craving for sushi.

Rolling offers about 18 different rolls, ranging from the $4.99 vegetable cut roll to the high-end $8.99 rainbow roll. I opted for the latter and a $7.99 spider roll, which was discounted because they were having a 50 percent off deal for the second roll.

I learned that this second in a two-chain restaurant opened about three months ago. The first restaurant is Sushi in the Box located in Temple City.

 

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It took just a few minutes for the chef to create the rainbow of salmon, tuna and halibut, shrimp and avocado over a California roll, which he did just behind the counter.

I’m happy to say that the roll tasted exactly as it should. The fish was fresh, the rice was moist, and with the proper amount of soy sauce and wasabi it was great for a “quickie sushi” type of place.

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The soft-shell crab roll didn’t disappoint either. It is easy to overcook the crustacean, which will make it the consistency of battered rubber, but Rolling got it right on par with the fancy-schmancy restaurants that charge twice as much for the same dish.

In addition to sushi, the restaurant offers several rice bowls – a couple of ramen soup varieties. They don’t serve alcohol, however, for those looking for sake bombs. 

Rolling Sushi is located at 1114 Huntington Drive in Duarte. For more information, call (626) 471-3568.