Remembering China Gate

Upland’s China Gate for years was considered by many — and certainly by me — the best Chinese restaurant in the area. I enjoyed at least a dozen meals there over the years. Finally in the past decade more exciting and authentic Chinese fare began showing up in cities like Chino Hills, Chino and Rancho Cucamonga. Before that, China Gate was as real as it got out here, and it was popular too.

The restaurant lasted roughly 40 years before closing in March 2018 as part of a shakeup of the Mountain Green shopping center. I’d heard the restaurant’s original owners had sold and that the quality may have slipped. Regardless, I meant to write something here or in my column but it just slipped through the cracks.

I did, however, take some post-closing photos, and what the heck, they may as well be shared here for posterity. Above is the exterior, which faced north.

Through the glass front door and windows I shot what was left of the very 1980s-looking interior.

And posted outside was the menu. A couple of people wrote farewell messages, a sweet touch. If you click on the full menu, you’ll get a larger version of it in case you’d like to scroll through the offerings and reminisce about a favorite.

Former Montclair resident Grace Corcoran remembers. She emailed me in April asking about the restaurant:

“Last year I was in Upland, looking forward to lunch at China Gate on Mountain; I simply can’t explain my deep disappointment to learn it was no longer there. They had a dish on their menu that consisted of steamed fish in a light white sauce with a hint of fresh basil flavor. It was the most refreshing and delicate entrée I’ve ever had in a Chinese restaurant. For the past year I have searched the internet — in vain — for a recipe for this dish. I have experimented in my own kitchen trying to replicate it. In all cases I have failed.”

I couldn’t help her, but she reminded me of China Gate, which led to this blog post. If you remember China Gate too, here’s your chance to comment.

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  • calwatch

    It depends on whether you count Diamond Bar as part of the SGV Tribune’s territory or the Daily Bulletin’s but Diamond Bar has had great authentic Chinese restaurants there for decades, long before 99 Ranch opened in Rancho in 2010 and Chino Hills in 2006 (and brought authentic Chinese dining to their parking lots).

  • SAWZ

    I frequented China Gate occasionally and am sorry it closed for another salon of which there are ample. I usually had their egg-foo young. I did not want to eat the poor fish that they raised there in their own tank. When it comes to other ethnic food, I prefer the knock-offs like Panda Express rather than authentic. The Panda Express at Montclair Place (still Plaza to me) has delicious dishes–honey walnut shrimp; egg plant/tofu; rice, chow mein, sweet/sour sauce,, etc.–now I am making myself hungry.

  • Charles Bentley

    I would disagree that it was the “best” Chinese restaurant in the area. I take nothing away from China Gate – I recall when it opened and that it offered a nice dining experience. It was the first place I ever had General Tso’s chicken, and it did include other items not typically found at other local establishments.
    But I remember a few other places I always thought were as good and sometimes better. The New China on Foothill in Upland, in its day, was great. Other great establishments included the Mardarin Gardens on Holt in Ontario (down the street from Vinces), the Phoenix on Central in Montclair (it later became Fu-Lin), Chopsticks House (the one in San Dimas was my personal favorite), and Mandarin Taste in Diamond Bar.
    Older establishments – Jade Palace and Chung King (both, I believe in Pomona), Bing’s Cathay Inn in San Bernardino and the Yangtze in Ontario, were the established “old guard” when I was growing up. But being first didn’t make them the best.
    Always sad to see a good restaurant close. What is even worse is to see a good restaurant fade away, a sad reminder of what once was and will likely never be again … except in our memories.