Food phobias

peaspile

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?

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Peach donut season

peachdonut

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.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Ramen Burger coming to L.A. County Fair

ramenburger

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.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

‘Too bready’: Restaurant of the Week descriptions

ROW

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.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

All fooded out

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!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant of the Week: Chu Fine Chinese Cuisine

chu3

CLOSED 2014

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.

chu1

chu2

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Restaurant photos added for RC, Fontana

This blog began in September 2007, and for its first 16 months, there were no photos, because I didn’t know how to post them. (Training was, shall we say, at a minimum.) This made for some blah Restaurant of the Week posts in particular.

For consistency’s sake, now and then I’ve added photos to restaurant posts from that period for eateries still in business. Now I’m trying to do so in more concerted fashion, focusing on one city at a time to make the task less overwhelming.

And so, you can find photos now with all my Rancho Cucamonga restaurant posts, after I added them for 14 restaurants (click on the names to see them):  Stevie Dee’s CafeMonaco’s PizzaJohnny Carino’s, Islamorada, Bright Star Thai Vegan, Green Mango Thai Bistro, CostcoYatai Sushi, Terry’s Burgers, Anthony’s Italian Kitchen, China PointDon MarcosGandolfo’s and my very first RoW, El Ranchero. Ditto with neighboring Fontana and its Viola’s Deli, the only photo-less restaurant from that period. Some are simple exterior shots, while at others I bought meals, photographed them and added some text.

Besides updating these posts, I’ve also gone through the Restaurants: Rancho Cucamonga category to remove any restaurants no longer in business; those posts have been shifted to the Inland Valley Eatin’ category with the notation “closed.”

More updates for other restaurant categories will come as time permits. And if you appreciate my stubborn attention to detail, back pats are accepted.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

No RoW today

You don’t need to read about a restaurant the day after Christmas, do you? Restaurant of the Week will return the day after New Year’s. I do have one ready to go, and another couple in the works, and of course scads of places to try.

If you need something to look at, I returned to a 2008 restaurant, Kikyryki, in Claremont for lunch recently to take photos. At that point I didn’t know how to post photos. It’s a goal of mine to go back and add photos to posts about restaurants that are still in business. Kikiryki is still a good place.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Sayonara, Tokyo Tokyo

tokyox2

Tokyo Tokyo, 990 Ontario Mills Circle, has changed hands and is now ShinBashi, as tipster Bob Terry alerted me. If the faded condition of the sign is any indication, the restaurant was not being kept up.

But 15 years ago, Tokyo Tokyo was a big deal. In the Ontario area, it was a happening spot, especially on a Friday or Saturday night. Newsroom colleagues and I had many lunches and dinners there in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Come to think of it, Tokyo Tokyo may have been the first place I ever had sushi.

The interior seemed glitzy in those days, almost like a nightclub: patio dining, Japanese paper screens, a couple of private rooms with sunken seating. A signature feature was koi swimming under glass tiles in the floor leading from the entryway back to the sushi bar. This must have tripped up hundreds or thousands of others as it did me, the first time or two. You had the sense you were stepping into water.

The food may only have impressed those of us who didn’t know much about Japanese food, which at that point was practically everyone who lived here. But it seemed good.

I don’t know when or how Tokyo Tokyo lost its mojo, or why. In one period, the health department grade was a C, a shocker for a business-lunch spot. Quite likely, tastes for Japanese food became more sophisticated, and Tokyo Tokyo would have gradually been lost in the shuffle as more restaurants opened around Ontario Mills. The increasingly faded sign seemed to show the bloom was off the rose.

“The whole place is worn out,” one Yelp commenter wrote in July, saying the restaurant had never been remodeled.

In August, another wrote: “WTF happened to this place?!?!? So sad! We haven’t been here in years and we were regulars before. On a Friday night back in the days this place was packed and now not one person at the sushi bar. The fish in the glass at the bar was old and we were scared to order anything not cooked, the sushi chefs were helping from another sushi place and didn’t even know the menu, the food was awful, the waitress tried to be friendly but it just wasn’t enough, the lights at the sushi bar were turned off and it was dark and depressing. This place used to be the spot and now it’s a run down has been. It still has potential and a great location they just need the right owner to fix it up again. So disappointed.”

So, inevitably for rundown has-beens, Tokyo Tokyo is gone. Welcome to ShinBashi. “Koi still there, for now,” Terry reports. Good luck to the koi and to the new owners.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email