Last year I wrote about the man who got the DiCenso family recipe for lasagna as a comfort to him as he lay dying of ALS. He died last week. Plus: more items from around the valley, all in Friday’s column.
China Republic, 12806 E. Foothill Blvd. (at Etiwanda), Rancho Cucamonga; open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
A shopping plaza in easternmost Rancho Cucamonga, on Foothill Boulevard east of the 15 Freeway, is a surprisingly happening spot. It’s got Combine Kitchen, Tilted Kilt, a Korean BBQ and an ambitious Chinese restaurant, China Republic. I’d been wanting to try the latter and jumped when a friend and his wife wanted dinner.
The parking lot was bustling early on a Friday evening and a couple of likely Kilt customers were arguing belligerently. Things were more sedate at China Republic.
It’s got a beautiful interior, with high ceilings, wooden panels with carved cutouts, lovely lantern-like fixtures and a modernist bar. It might be the most impressive restaurant interior in Rancho Cucamonga.
To my knowledge, China Republic is one of the very, very few Inland Valley restaurants with dim sum, or small-plate luncheons, and I’m told the place is packed. But this was a weeknight dinner. We ordered, as presented below, black vinegar mushrooms ($6), braised pork belly ($15), garlic broccoli ($10), dry scallop fried rice ($14) and Singapore noodles soup ($10, not pictured).
We enjoyed our items, although none of them knocked us out. In what must be a concession to local tastes, the menu includes orange peel chicken and cream cheese wontons, not the sort of dishes they serve in Hong Kong.
“An A for aesthetics but a B for execution,” one friend suggested.
China Republic is worth trying, especially to admire the place, and if you get the dim sum, report back, please.
Reader Yvonne Cheyney writes that on her walk last week in the 1300 block of Upland’s North Quince Avenue, she saw “a beautiful white heron. It was on a neighbor’s lawn, then flew very low across 14th Street and settled on the lawn of a neighbor who has twin palm trees that are over 80 years old. I was very quiet and hid behind one of the palm trees to take pictures.”
Thanks for sending them, Yvonne.
Update: More specifically, this heron is a Great Egret, reader Cliff Hutson informs us. We egret the omission.
John Clifford, a regular on this blog, is also the blogger behind Eating Garey Avenue, in which he’s been documenting his quest to eat at every restaurant on that Pomona street. He’s almost done. I offer early congratulations via Wednesday’s column. Above, Clifford takes photos of his plate at Los Jarritos while “the lovely Mrs. C,” as he calls his wife, Deborah, watches.
The Claremont Courier’s crossword puzzle of Feb. 3 was brought to my attention by the Courier’s editor due to the clue for 17 Across: “Longtime Claremont writer for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.” My name is the answer to a crossword puzzle? I’ve finally made it!
I doubt I’ve ever successfully worked a crossword to the end, but at least this time there’s one sure answer, and I felt comfortable filling it in in ink. (On a photocopy of the puzzle. The original must be kept minty-fresh.) How many Courier readers were stumped, I wonder?
Click on the image above if you’d like to try to work the puzzle yourself.
A man’s quest for photos of his late wife led him to the Pomona Public Library, where a vast collection of photo negatives turned up a packet of photos from their 1957 wedding. The story makes up Sunday’s column, an early Valentine’s Day edition. Above, senior librarian Pat Lambert holds up one of the negatives; below, a scan of one of the negatives, showing Jess Kraus and his bride, Janet.
I attended Tuesday’s Chino council meeting and learned that more than three dozen residents had pelted City Hall with letters about impacts of the recent rains in south Chino, which is only partly developed. Officials urged patience, explaining that further development will provide money to improve streets and drainage. Also: a clutch of Culture Corner items and a Valley Vignette, all in Friday’s column.
Los Jarritos, 3191 N. Garey Ave. (at Foothill), Pomona; open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Sundays, until 2 p.m.
For years this restaurant was known as Los Jarritos II, because the original Los Jarritos was on Towne Avenue near downtown. But that one closed a year or so ago, it seems, turning the more-popular II into simply Los Jarritos. Probably as it should be. I never went to LJ I but have been to II several times over the years. It’s in the Grove Center south of Foothill Boulevard.
It’s a well-liked spot, busy with takeout orders and with full service in the two dining rooms, where tables are neatly arranged in rows on the tiled floors, lots of natural light flooding in through the floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. They sell menudo on weekends, filling pots that people bring in from home. Los Jarritos isn’t fancy, but on the other hand it’s in better shape than a lot of restaurants in aging shopping centers.
I was there for lunch this week with John Clifford, a frequent commenter on this blog, who has been blogging at Eating Garey for the past year as he hits every food establishment on that thoroughfare. His wife, Deborah, tagged along. He blogged about our lunch the next day, a post that can be read here.
Los Jarritos has a short menu, consisting mostly of burritos, although they’ll make you tacos, enchiladas or breakfast (where burritos again seem to be the main event). Asada, shredded beef, chorizo and machaca are the main fillings. I went with chicken, Deb got asada and John got a chile relleno and enchilada plate. (I’m not sure of the prices as Deb grabbed the check while I was interviewing John for an upcoming column, bless her heart, but the burritos were around $7 each and the total came to $35 with drinks.)
John found his rice pleasantly garlicky, his beans creamy and his entree very good, other than his chicken enchilada being on the dry side. Deb liked her burrito and side of beans. John and I were unexcited by the liquid salsa, although Deb was all praise. My burrito was a little dry, as chicken tends to be. I recall liking earlier meals more, probably asada and shredded beef burritos, if memory serves. It had been five or six years since my last visit.
Service was acceptable, and it was interesting to see the ebb and flow in the two hours we spent eating and blabbing: Plenty busy upon our 1 p.m. arrival, nearly empty by 2 and, around 2:30, half full again as a new wave of customers drifted in.
Los Jarritos, now the one and only, is hanging in there as a solid neighborhood choice in north Pomona.
Jokes about Pomona were such a staple of 1930s entertainment that top-rated radio comic Fred Allen mocked them. Dialogue from one of his shows offers a fascinating glimpse of the times. That leads off Wednesday’s column, followed by Culture Corner items and more.
An unusual Inland Valley phenomenon of the 1980s was named The Void. I had heard only passing references to it over the years until a description by Kent Crowley in his Foothills Reader history column in 2015 about local Halloween-ish spots. Let me quote him in full (with one interjection).
“Ghost hunters are warned to stay away from the corner that extends from Route 66 north to Base Line Road along Benson Avenue near the Upland/Claremont border” — can you follow that? — “because in the 1980s thrill seekers sought a rumored mysterious ‘void’ on the property that gradually enveloped people in total darkness and unearthly silence. Some say the void was a gateway between dimensions or between the spirit and material worlds.”
Some say, eh? What about the rest of you? Did you ever experience The Void? Have you heard stories about it?
Update: On Facebook, where almost no one had heard of this — not surprisingly, since it can’t possibly exist — one man invoked the alternative name for the phenomena: The Warp Gate. He wrote: “Still there…south of 210 where they’re building new homes. Does that mean the new homeowners will disappear? Lol.”