I visited a new exhibit on Cal Poly’s history and then got a peek at the university’s special collection archives. Will you join me in Sunday’s column? Above, the Student Wives Club and PHT diploma, described in the column. Click on the photo for a readable view of the diploma itself; you can decide for yourself if it’s amusing or embarrassing.
Monthly Archives: March 2019
Column: Honest, this mechanic shop is closing after 56 years
Independent shop Bill’s Auto Service could no longer compete in a changing world. Two brothers have operated the shop that was founded by their father in 1963. I write about them for Friday’s column. Above, Brian and John Brew in their shop Tuesday.
Restaurant of the Week: Mr. Dumpling
Mr. Dumpling, 9319 Foothill Blvd. (at Hellman), Rancho Cucamonga; open daily, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
I was predisposed to like Mr. Dumpling, a Chinese restaurant in the center across from the New Kansan Motel, based on its name alone. Courtesy titles in business names are usually a winner. I would like to see a Mr. Dumpling mascot, perhaps a pudgy anthropomorphic dumpling wearing a smile and a rice hat.
Regardless, the restaurant had been on my list to try pretty much since its 2017 opening, and an opportunity recently presented itself when I was setting up lunch in Rancho Cucamonga with two friends. Let’s try Mr. Dumpling!
The double-sided menu has appetizers, soups and, naturally, dumplings, steamed, boiled or fried. We started with cucumber ($4), pickled and with serrano chiles, which we liked, although we sometimes avoided the chiles, and house fried rice ($4), with scallions and egg.
We also got pork wonton in chile oil ($7), another table favorite.
As for the dumplings, we got xiao long bao ($9), soup-filled pork dumplings of the type you would get at Din Tai Fung. These were not to those level, but they matched my memory of the XLBs at Min’s, also in Rancho Cucamonga. We also had beef and onion panfried dumplings ($9.45), which I unaccountably did not photograph. We liked those too.
Service was efficient but not especially helpful, as seems standard for Chinese restaurants. The dining room is enlivened by a wall-length mural by the co-owner.
I enjoyed the meal, as did my friends. I’d rate it among the better Chinese restaurants in the city. “For dumplings I’d definitely come back,” said one. “They needed to have those little spoons for us,” chided the other, referring to the soup spoons that usually come with XLBs.
And then in writing this post I reread our restaurant critic’s review and learned that there is evidently a sauce station opposite the kitchen with sauces, oils, black vinegar and slivered ginger for our dumplings. I did wonder why we didn’t get black vinegar and only a, well, sliver of slivered ginger. Maybe they had soup spoons there too. But no one told us it existed.
Tsk, tsk, Mr. Dumpling, you adorable fellow, you!
Column: ‘Apollo 11’ makes space for John Stewart song
I heard an unfamiliar 1960s song while watching the documentary on the moon landing, paid attention during the credits to see who sang it and was floored to find that it was by the late John Stewart, who spent his teen years in Claremont. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by some Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette.
Column: Does each booth have a cone of silence?
A rare (but welcome?) all-Ontario column begins with a Spires restaurant sign now missing a crucial letter, continues with a City Council meeting and concludes with TV filming and a robot. What more would you want in a Sunday column? That’s rhetorical.
Column: Randy’s Donuts, a sight for glazed eyes
I stumbled upon the famous Randy’s Donuts while in Inglewood on Saturday. Naturally I got a doughnut for the drive home, while also reflecting on giant rooftop doughnuts and doughnut names. That tops Friday’s column, followed by a bunch of cultural items of potential interest and a Valley Vignette.
Restaurant of the Week: Take Ur Seat
Take Ur Seat, 15871 Pomona Rincon Road (at Soquel Canyon), Chino Hills; open daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Sunday, closed
Calling itself “the American classic brunch with an Asian twist,” Take Ur Seat opened in January in a new development, Rincon Plaza, in a booming portion of Chino Hills. The restaurant motto: “You. Me. Brunch.” Note: The official name seems to be Take UR Seat, but I’m going to pretend it’s not.
It’s fairly small and apparently often packed. It certainly was at a recent Saturday lunchtime, when my friends and I put our names in and joined a dozen people waiting outside.
We made jokes about the wait, and the name, to kill time. “Take Ur Seat…Eventually,” one said. Another said, in mock belligerence about his inability to take a seat, “It’s in the name!”
But that gave us time to study the menu. It’s short and focused, with cloud pancakes, french toast, avocado toast and a couple more breakfast items, a half-dozen bowls with pork belly, spam, kimchee or tri-tip, two salads and a variety of coffee and specialty lattes. The chef cooked at Cal Poly Pomona’s international kitchen prior to this.
We were called in after 50 minutes, given a table and allowed to order at the counter, with no one in front of us. There’s lots of natural light, wood tables, pendant lamps and a modern, cheery feel. Our food was delivered in a reasonable amount of time.
In short, we liked what we got. I had the kimchee fried rice omelet ($10), with pork belly, spam, seaweed and fried rice. I actually didn’t notice the spam. Someone else got the spam rice bowl ($8) with steamed rice, fried eggs, spinach and crispy onions, plus fries ($4), which we all devoured.
Our resident vegan had the tofu mushroom bowl ($10), with steamed rice and spinach, forgoing the poached egg. “It was flavorful and satisfying,” she said. She also noted it was the only item on the menu she could have ordered. She also enjoyed a matcha latte ($5).
The fourth member of our merry quartet had the Tip Me Over rice bowl ($12), with charbroiled tri-tip, steamed rice, spinach, spinach and poached egg. “I walked in hungry and I’m walking out satisfied,” he said. For the record, he was projecting, as he was still seated at the time. He’d been here once before and had the Big 5 (eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes and home fries, $12) and said he’d go back to that on his next visit.
I would come back. Take Ur Seat reminds me of Rancho Cucamonga’s Combine Kitchen, which similarly pairs coffee with elevated takes on American and Asian dishes.
A few things worth noting: At night Take Ur Seat had just instituted a “night vibe dinner menu” with items from the owners’ native Indonesia. By 1:30, there were empty tables, so you might want to time a visit to an off-hour for quicker seating. Also: This may be the rare brunch spot that’s closed Sundays. Plan your life accordingly.
Column: For birthday, a few of his favorite things
I took a day trip to L.A. for my birthday and enjoyed as many favorites as I could: public transit, pizza, the Cinerama Dome, Amoeba Music, Shake Shack and a book. The excursion is the subject of Wednesday’s column.
A relaxing week off
I had a low-key week away from work, which is pretty much what I had in mind. While improving after my pneumonia, a break for rest, one in which I would not have to think about column topics, was very appealing.
With occasional forays for food or errands, mostly I took it easy around the house. For one thing, I took care of a few long-delayed or -postponed items, the sorts of things that may not take a lot of time but which you can better persuade yourself to do when you have time on your hands as opposed to giving up precious weekend moments for.
Such as? One morning I took all the books off one bookcase, blew the dust off the top of each book, rearranged them and cleared away some clutter at the front of the shelves. The appearance is much improved and the whole thing took under an hour.
By later in the week, I felt more energetic. I took the train to L.A. for my birthday, an outing that will be the subject of Wednesday’s column. I also (gasp) drove to L.A. a couple of days later for lunch with friends.
As with any week off, I went to bed Sunday wishing I had one or two days more to tick a few more items off my pending list. But it was fun returning to work Monday too. While I still have an occasional cough and shortness of breath, I would rate my energy level at about 95 percent of normal.
That week off came at the right time.