About David Allen

A journalist since 1987, David Allen has been writing a column for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin since 1997 and blogging since 2007. He's a native of Illinois and lives in Claremont. Otherwise his commute to Ontario would take days. E-mail David here. Read recent columns here

Column: Record Store Day is music to fans’ ears

Saturday is Record Store Day, with local shops offering special releases (most of them on vinyl), giveaways and a festive atmosphere. Friday’s column has more details as well as relevant links to the RSD website and release list. I also plug my Hitchcock series at Ontario’s library and present a few nuggets from Monday’s Upland council meeting that I cut from Wednesday’s column.

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Restaurant of the Week: Chu Fine Chinese Cuisine

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Chu Fine Chinese Cuisine, 11334 Fourth St. (at Milliken), Rancho Cucamonga

Chu has been across from Ontario Mills, in the same center as Chipotle and Kula, since about 2008. I ate there once, occasionally made jokes with friends about Chu Chinese Food being a good place to chew Chinese food and kind of forgot about the place until returning recently with a friend for dinner.

It’s a sitdown restaurant, comfortable and moderately snazzy, with vases and other objects displayed in a series of niches (seen below) and 3-D art produced with layered cutout images hanging on the walls. One depicts the Last Supper. People were seated in front of it, eating supper themselves, which prevented a closer look. All the pieces are for sale, generally at $1,000 or more, a price that would seem beyond the means of most who would eat at Chu’s, where entrees range from $7 to $13.

We ordered a la carte entrees from the house specialties list: fried chicken with hot garlic sauce ($11, below) and rice cakes Shanghai style ($9, bottom). The chicken came in bite-sized pieces. We liked it best, even if the sauce didn’t qualify as hot. The rice cakes weren’t the diet-food kind but rather soft, chewy discs the size and color of water chestnuts, served with a few vegetables. I liked them, although a platter of them was a few too many.

Most of the rest of the menu is typical Cantonese-American fare, down to chop suey and cream cheese wontons. Unexciting, but not bad, and this is one of the few Ontario Mills-adjacent spots (Green Mango is another) where you’re guaranteed to be able to get a table quickly on a Friday or Saturday night when all the chains are gridlocked, and get a decent meal to boot.

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‘Special K’: grrreeaat!

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I caught “Special K: Cal Poly Pomona’s First 75 Years” on Sunday in its only planned performance. As I won’t get a chance to go into it in my column until later this week, if at all, I’ll take a moment to say how lively it was, especially when it could have been dry as a bone.

The primary characters were cereal magnate Will Kellogg, humorist Will Rogers, poet and Cal Poly prof Virginia Hamilton Adair * and Mike Taylor, a student who surreptitiously built a treehouse on campus (hey, it was the ’70s). With them as narrators and regular stage presences, this was a delightfully off-kilter look at the university’s history. Good show.

* name corrected

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Upland ‘tourism’ grows

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The monthly downtown Upland walking tour that I wrote about last week definitely did better Saturday than the usual six to eight that had been attending since its debut last September.

“By my count, 37 people, but someone said over 40. Let’s go with the higher number!” enthused organizer Ann Lara via email. With a suggested $5 donation, the tour generated $150 for the Cooper Regional History Museum.

“I am calling it the David Allen effect. Almost everyone came because of your article,” Lara said. (Aw, shucks.) “I told the group if they were real good and took a nice photo it might end up on your blog or Facebook page. They all said ‘David Allen’ instead of ‘cheese’ for the photo.”

Maybe that will catch on. OK, probably not. But the tour seems to be catching on. The next one is May 10.

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Column: Upland leaders may further roil City Hall

Items in Sunday’s column¬†begin with a preview of Monday’s Upland council meeting in which the city manager’s fate appears to be the subject of two closed-door meetings. After that: Culture Corner and Valley Vignette items, an update on my Hitchcock film series, a plug for this blog and my reactions to a listing of the 10 Most Boring Places in California that includes Ontario.

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Column: Armstrong Nursery rose along with Ontario

A history of Armstrong Nursery, founded circa 1893 in Ontario and a presence in the city until 1982, is on view in an exhibit at the Ontario Museum of History and Art. Friday’s column hits some of the highlights.

(On a personal note, all the research was done in March, but I ran out of time to write this before my vacation, and only this week was I able to get to it. It’s a relief to have that, and Wednesday’s Upland walking tour column, out of the way!)

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Restaurant of the Week: Taco Man

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Taco Man, 9617 Central Ave. (at San Bernardino), Montclair

It’s a new restaurant — well, it opened in 2013 — but it’s in a vintage building, a Tastee Freez that dates to 1961, which in Montclair is practically the Paleolithic period. After a string of taquerias and other businesses in that spot, Taco Man spiffed it up and moved in. It was, and remains, a catering business that now has a brick and mortar location. (They produced a cute video prior to their opening.)

There’s no interior seating, but there is dining in the covered breezeway, where there are four picnic-style benches and a counter with seating for 10. And of course they have takeout.

I had lunch there on a hot day back in February and returned this week for a second meal and more photos.

The first time, I had three tacos ($1.49 each, bottom): carnitas, al pastor and cube, a mixture of chicken and chorizo. Really good street taco-style tacos, with the pineapple atop the al pastor a welcome touch. It didn’t surprise me to learn that owner Israel Miranda is a native of Mexico City as those are the type of tacos I had on my visit there in 2011.

This week I tried an al pastor burrito ($6.50, middle), which also has the pineapple, as well as finely shredded cabbage (the effect was like slaw) as well as onions, beans, cilantro, sour cream and salsa. A little different, but tasty, and also large and filling. They also have a double burrito named The Big Donk, plus quesadillas and a couple of healthier options, a protein bowl and low-carb tacos. They have vegetarian and vegan options too not reflected on the menu.

Its website¬†has the restaurant’s menu, story and more. Alas, the former Tastee Freez doesn’t have ice cream cones.

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Your two cents: ‘Do you do…?’

I had this email exchange recently with someone whom I expected at the start was at least an occasional reader.

Him: “Do you do reviews on anything? My friend is hosting a Car & Bike show event in Pomona this weekend on 3/22/2014 which will be an annual event, but this is their first year hosting the event in pomona. Would be great if you can join us, and maybe do a quick interview with the owner? Thank you so much David!”

Me: “Sorry, Mike, but car shows and such aren’t really my bailiwick. Good luck on your friend’s show, though.”

Him: “Ok what about businesses?”

I was tempted to reply, “What about them?”

Me: “Do I do reviews of businesses? No.”

Unable to let this go, he sent one more.

Him: “What do you do then?”

A variety of responses came to mind, such as “Things other than reviews of car shows and businesses,” “Ask someone who reads my columns,” “My bosses are probably asking the same question,” etc. Instead I replied: “Things like this” and linked to my column on the citrus packing house in Upland.

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