Pitha, pleath

A young woman who often works the counter at a pizza parlor I like has the most pronounced lisp I believe I’ve ever heard. I don’t want to identify the restaurant because I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings (it’s not San Biagio’s, though). Her speech is sort of fetching, actually, especially when she calls me “thir.” A part of me wants to order anchovies, sausage and mushrooms just to hear her repeat my order back to me.

SHE: Anchovieth, thauthage and muthroomth, thir?

ME: Yes, and a Pepthi. Er, Pepsi.

Any other suggestions what we might order?

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Restaurant of the Week: Ban Chow

CLOSED

Ban Chow, 9755 Arrow Route (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga

To kick off 2013′s Restaurants of the Week, here’s a hole-in-the-wall takeout place in Rancho Cucamonga that might be the only place in the Inland Valley to get Cambodian food. Ban Chow is a simple storefront in the same center as Jack in the Box, Nancy’s and Guido’s. It’s easy to find: It’s the only business without a sign.

Thanks to reader Andy for directing me here. The specialty is the ban chow, an egg crepe filled with onion, bean sprouts and a choice of meat. I got the sampler plate ($8.10) which has a ban chow, a meat skewer, rice, pickled papaya salad, an egg roll and a soda. I liked my ban chow (pork) and skewer (beef). Tasty, filling and a good deal for the money.

It’s takeout only because they have no customer restroom, although there is a small counter you can sit at. The staff said the only other Cambodian restaurants are in San Gabriel and Long Beach. The menu is short; if you get the combo plate, you’ve had pretty much everything they have. Based on photos on their Facebook page, they sometimes have baked goods, including macarons. (I didn’t see any on my visit.) Does any other place in the valley have fresh-baked macarons? If they do, it’s a safe bet they don’t have ban chow.

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The meals of 2012

Looking back at my Restaurant of the Week posts from 2012, I see I wrote about 43 eateries, starting with Farrell’s in Rancho Cucamonga and ending with Cafe X20 in La Verne. (Vacations, holidays and occasional breaks took up the other nine weeks.)

Among the notable places: Le Bistro in Upland, Lucky Elephant in Ontario, Ra Pour in Rancho Cucamonga, Tijuana’s Tacos in Pomona, Escabeche Grill in Chino, One Plus One Dumpling House in Chino Hills and Union on Yale in Claremont. Perhaps the two most unusual: Jollibee in Chino and Dragon Loco in Ontario. Use this blog’s search function to find the writeups or the handy category listings of restaurants by city.

Generally I write about places I like, or that at least strike me as okay. As I’m not a restaurant critic and don’t consider these pieces reviews, I’m fairly lenient, not wanting to bad-mouth a place based on a single visit. The Internet is cruel enough. That said, I do try to be gently honest and will tell you if I don’t like something or if the restaurant isn’t worth the drive. I also mention the very rare occasions when I’m not buying my own meal.

I’ll be back at it next week. In the meantime, what local restaurants did you try in 2012 and like (or loathe)? Any general comments about my Restaurants of the Week are welcome, as are recommendations of places to try.

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Best fried chicken?

LA Weekly’s food writers love compiling top 5, top 10 and unnumbered best-of lists, which is smart because they’re as addictive to read as they must be to write. A friend sent me a link this morning to one list and I ended up reading a half-dozen. (Like Lay’s, you never can read just one.)

Among them is a 10 Best Fried Chicken in Los Angeles list and at No. 10 is (ta-da!) Donahoo’s in Pomona. Its box lunch consists, says the scribe, of “fries, which you can skip, and chicken, which you absolutely cannot.” No argument here. No. 1 is a place named Jim Dandy in South-Central.

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Shuffling off through lore of Buffalo Inn

Sunday’s column (read it here) answers the question: Has Upland’s Buffalo Inn really been there since 1929, as the signs say? Answer: sort of.

In a surprise to me, the establishment really was known as the Buffalo Inn from ’29 to ’39, went under various other names for the next four decades, then in 1977 became the place we know today, reviving the original name.

As a side note, this column was written in late August, with the “blisteringly hot lunch hour” that I mention occurring on a 100-degree-plus Friday. The column has been finished since early September, but one thing or another kept coming up (the Fair, Upland council meetings, etc.) and I let the column sit until a good opportunity presented itself to schedule it. Seemed like a perennial, and from my standpoint, it’s so rare to be a column ahead (usually I’m writing on deadline)┬áthat I enjoyed having one ready to go anytime I needed it. In fact, I enjoyed that so much, I stalled on running it just to savor the sensation.

I’m a little sheepish that I let it sit so long, but I hope you like it.

Feel free to comment about the Buffalo Inn, procrastinating columnists or other related topics.

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Column: Get your kicks at new Rancho Cucamonga park

Friday’s column (read it here) is about the dedication of the Route 66 Trailhead in Rancho Cucamonga near the new-ish bridge over Foothill Boulevard. Incidentally, despite what I wrote, it’s not officially a park, as I learned after deadline, but to us laypeople that’s a better generic noun than “trailhead” (or is it? I might be wrong). Also, I plug an event in Pomona on Sunday, for which tickets must be purchased Friday. I bought mine this morning at Frantz Cleaners.

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Consider the anchovy

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Photo: Salt & Fat blog

The most disdained of pizza toppings, the anchovy, already down, was kicked by Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Pepperoni) (I mean, R-Chino Hills) in a “Point of View” column on the Bulletin’s Opinion page last week. Under the print headline “Why Californians dislike Legislature,” Hagman began: “The California state Legislature is about as popular as anchovies and airport pat-downs.”

Suddenly, contrary to Hagman’s intentions, I felt sympathetic to the Legislature. Not because of the airport security comparison, obviously, but because of the anchovy comparison.

I’ve always liked the anchovy. My dad likes them, my mom detests them. If we got anchovies on half (or a mere quarter) of a pizza, I would have a slice or two from that side. It was a mild form of living on the edge, not to mention a chance to be kind to my kindly father.

In our family, we also had a Thanksgiving-Christmas stuffing tradition: with oysters, or without. Pitting brother against brother, much like the Civil War, the choice made for a twice-annual, tongue-in-cheek debate, a kind of “Which Side Are You On?” at the dining room table. I didn’t care much but would always try a little oyster stuffing along with, wishy-washily, the regular kind. One exotic ingredient made a bland side dish a little dangerous. It was like “The Girl With Something Extra” as played out on my plate. (Not the ESP part, just the “something extra” part.)

As an adult, my default pizza setting is plain cheese, and my favorite toppings are probably sausage and mushroom, but I’ll get anchovies now and then. A lot of pizza places, especially chains, don’t even have anchovies, and sometimes the mom and pop places are out, because they never restocked after the last time someone ordered them, during one of the Bush presidencies.

I always like a Caesar salad made the traditional way, with at least one real anchovy fillet, but those are even rarer than anchovy pizzas.

I considered inviting Hagman out for an anchovy pizza, although I don’t know if anywhere in Chino Hills serves them, or if he would eat them.

Let’s hear from you. Forget the Legislature. What do you make of the humble anchovy?

P.S. If David Foster Wallace can write an essay collection titled “Consider the Lobster,” I can title a blog post “Consider the Anchovy.”

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