There’s no particular rhyme or reason to how I choose restaurants for my Restaurant of the Week posts, other than that I try not to leave any cities out. But some cities get more exposure here than others.
Fontana, Chino and San Dimas have had the least attention traditionally, with Fontana and San Dimas being on our borders and Chino, like them, being hard to get to on my lunch break. (Poor Fontana had only been featured three times prior to Jan. 1.)
For 2015, though, I decided to start off right by rotating among all our cities. In order, I’ve written about Seventh Heaven (Upland), El Fortin 3 (Chino), Stein Haus (Pomona), Noodle House (Chino Hills), El Gallo Giro (Fontana), 5 Star Pizza (Ontario), Lucille’s BBQ (Rancho Cucamonga), Cafe Moderno (Montclair), the Harvey Mudd Dining Hall (Claremont), Wahfles (La Verne) and Angela’s Italian Kitchen (San Dimas).
From this point, I won’t be sticking to a rotation, as it’s kind of limiting, but at least I got to every city this year, something I can’t always say. And it’s barely spring.
(True, I didn’t get to Diamond Bar, Glendora or Norco, at least not yet, but those are really the hinterlands as far as we’re concerned.)
Friday’s column begins with a summary of the best restaurants I tried in 2014, as well as listing my local favorites, from the new to the traditional. Clip and save! Or print out and save, or something. After that: items from Upland and Montclair, and a movie quote about Corona. You’re encouraged to list your own local restaurant favorites or discoveries in the comments section!
As with Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, I’ve focused in recent months on updating 2007-09 Restaurant of the Week posts from Claremont, La Verne and Pomona, adding photos to these photo-less posts and, if I ate there again, a few lines about the meal.
Click on the names to find the updates for, in Claremont, Casablanca, La Parolaccia, La Piccoletta and Malott Commons; in La Verne, the Habit, Red Devil Pizza, Sal’s Pizza and Bagelry and the Tenderloin; and in Pomona, Hilltop Jamaican, Macho Pollo and Omana’s. And I (why not?) added a photo to a Pomona-based entry from 2008 about Mexican Coca-Cola.
I also cleaned up the restaurants listings for Claremont, La Verne and Pomona, shifting any closed restaurants (that I know about) to the Inland Valley Eatin’ category with the notation “CLOSED.”
Further updates to other cities as time permits.
Wednesday’s column is about a stand at the Fair selling a hot-ticket food item, burgers with buns made of ramen noodles. They’re big elsewhere but so far haven’t caught on in Pomona. But, the Fair is still young…
Above, manager Basil Banks holds one with egg, bacon and cheese; below, my sandwich.
One of the foods I will not eat is peas. Dates to childhood. I will not give peas a chance. This means there are pastas, fried rices and occasional other dishes that I won’t order at a restaurant or buy in a store. Chicken pot pies almost always have peas, for instance.
Usually I’ll check for suspicious ingredients, but I let my guard down Sunday at Fresh and Easy when I bought the seemingly innocent Lemon Salmon Quinoa and Brown Rice entree. Then I heated it up for dinner and discovered peas. Plenty of them. I began fishing them out with a fork. And kept fishing, and kept fishing. This wasn’t easy, as the dish also had asparagus, which is also green but which I will eat.
Have you ever tried separating an objectionable item from a dish? Just when you think you’ve got them all, you find more. I thought I was done, then found probably 10 more. When I started eating, another pea turned up almost immediately. Eventually three more hidden peas were spotted. All in all, this 9-ounce serving had something like 60 peas. It should have been called Lemon Peas, Etc.
I won’t be buying that entree again, obviously. (The rest was tasty in a healthful way. It might be less work to make the dish from scratch, sans peas.) Your turn: Is there an item, or two or three, you resolutely refuse to eat?
Donut Man in Glendora (915 E. Rt 66) is renowned for its fresh strawberry donuts, generally available February to July. It’s less well-known for its other fresh fruit donut, the peach, in part because the peach season is so much shorter, often only one month. Last year I missed out completely. On Sunday I got one, bought directly from Donut Man Jim Nakano himself, who was manning one of the order windows.
Check out this bad boy. At $4, it’s the most expensive donut I’ve ever bought, but it’s well worth the dough (ha ha). And yes, that’s a fork partly visible in the photo.
Personally I like the peach better than the strawberry. I think the taste pairs better with the donut shell. The fact that it’s rarer no doubt adds to the allure.
Ramen Burger is opening its first brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, but the L.A. Times also reports that it’s coming to the Fair in Pomona, which takes place Aug. 29 to Sept. 28.
The LAT says the sandwich “comes with a ground beef patty topped with scallions, baby arugula and secret shoyu sauce sandwiched between a bun made of ramen noodles. More than 1,000 people stood in line to get a taste last year when the burger made its West Coast debut.”
My friend Wendy Leung, who had one later without such a wait (and contributed the photo above), says: “It’s really not as crazy as it sounds. It was good. You might need more napkins but it’s fun to eat.”
I haven’t had one, but I’m glad to hear I can stick close to home and get one soon.
* Also, the Fair’s Chicken Charlie stands will debut deep-fried Doritos and deep-fried chicken skin, according to LA Weekly.
Rather than give you a Restaurant of the Week right before a holiday weekend, here’s something Restaurant of the Week-related that I’ve meant to share for weeks now.
My friend Pam Arterburn gave me a silly but thoughtful homemade gift back in March for my birthday: She power-read her way through all my past restaurant blog posts and compiled her favorite descriptions or observations into a poster. Ha ha! (Click on the image for a larger view.)
You can judge for yourselves what the phrases add up to, but she said she was struck by how low-key and middle of the road they were, and so was I. With a couple of bolder exceptions (“excellent,” “amazing”) they stake out very modest territory. What can I say, I don’t feel qualified to write these restaurant posts anyway, so why go out on a limb?
Before you ask, she placed Bieber stickers on the poster because I’m a superstar. Obviously.
I know that’s not a word, but on Thursday and Friday, after finishing columns, I spent several hours writing five (!) Restaurant of the Week posts, about places I’d eaten at going back to February. They’re scheduled for May 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 and emanate from, in order, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Pomona, Upland and Chino Hills.
I was relieved to have been able to find my notes, identify my photos, finish these and toss the notes. With these done, that’s one less thing to worry about during May. By then, I’ll be excited by the idea of photographing food, taking notes and assembling blog posts about them, but not right now!
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.