‘Pomona A to Z’ in RC

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If you’re in or near Rancho Cucamonga, come to the Archibald Library, 7368 Archibald Ave. (just below Base Line) tonight for the 20th anniversary party, 7 to 9 p.m. I’m due to be interviewed for a few minutes by Library Director Robert Karatsu around 8 p.m. and will then sell and sign my book, “Pomona A to Z.” I’m curious what Robert will ask me and how many people in RC will buy my Pomona book. I’ll bring plenty and wait to be surprised, one way or the other.

Should be a fun night with lots of other things to do too: storytime, crafts, Beatles cover band and more. You can also meet my colleague Joe Blackstock and learn about the library’s history.

Isn’t the above photo cool? It was shot by my friend and former colleague Marc Campos in the Norms parking lot. I didn’t know what effect he was going for until I saw the photo later. Ha! I was even wearing a yellow shirt!

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Column: Girl Scouts show their grrl power, politely, in Claremont

An unusual protest at a city council meeting is the top item of my Friday column, as Girl Scouts showed up en masse in Claremont to speak up for their campground, La Casita, in the foothills. The larger Girl Scout council in L.A. wants to sell it off and the girls were enlisting the City Council’s support. Also: three Pomona items and a comment about comments at council meetings.

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Restaurant of the Week: Citrus Kitchen

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Citrus Kitchen, 10431 Lemon Ave. (at Haven), Rancho Cucamonga; closed Sundays and Mondays

This is in Rancho Cucamonga’s upper reaches, two blocks above the 210 and across from the Trader Joe’s center. Citrus Kitchen is in a small center with a few shops and restaurants, and a clock tower whose time is perpetually wrong.

I’d heard good things about Citrus Kitchen, which opened in spring 2014, and met a friend there for lunch recently. The space is small and seating is limited; nearly all the chairs were taken, and there was a line to order, a good sign.

They have seven basic meals of shrimp, chicken (several styles), salmon, tri-tip, tofu and vegetarian, which you order in either “snack” or “meal” sizes. With a snack you get one side, with a meal two, from a choice of 13. Snacks range from $6 to $8, meals from $9 to $13.50. You also choose one of their 14 sauces. The whole “choose your protein” bit reminds me of Dr. Grubb’s in Claremont.

In examining the menu, it was heartening to read the list of sides, which included couscous medley, local vegetables, vegan black beans, butternut squash saute, and kale and quinoa. There can’t be many places in the 909 with such an interesting assortment.

I got citrus shrimp ($8 snack) with kale and quinoa as my side; my friend opted for the citrus salmon ($8 snack) with the same side; he also got a second side ($3 for a small), baked shoestring fries. It took a good 15 minutes, long enough that I considered asking if we’d been forgotten, but it was during the lunch rush.

The end result was great, though. We both liked our seafood, the kale and quinoa was light and healthy, and the fries were crispy. It also seemed like a lot of food.

The only observation I’ll make is that one entire section of the L-shaped serving station doesn’t seem to be used for anything; if that remains the case, it might be worth removing it to put in an extra table or two. The restaurant seats about 18, including one outdoor table.

Nice spot, many healthy options and vegetarian-friendly. Upper Rancho has more fun.

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Restaurant of the Week: Benihana

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Benihana, 3760 E. Inland Empire Blvd. (at Haven), Ontario

Benihana, the Japanese chain with an Ontario location, may be the Inland Valley’s best “experience” restaurant. If you go for the teppanyaki, where you sit around the grill, the chef puts on a show involving fast action with the utensils, some sleight of hand and a few jokes. He’ll flip a few shrimp tails or egg shells into his hat or shirt pocket and maybe do some juggling.

I shot a short video of the chef’s final flourishes.

I’ve eaten there a few times over the years, including once on Christmas Day with my visiting parents, and returned recently with a friend to celebrate publication of my book. (Many more times I’ve been to the sushi bar.) It was as much fun as I remembered.

I went for the Land ‘n Sea ($34), steak and scallops, and my friend had the teriyaki chicken ($19), both of which come with a small salad, soup, rice, grilled vegetables, hot tea and ice cream. The menu can be seen here.

I didn’t go with the intention of writing a blog post, so I didn’t take many pictures. But it’s difficult to photograph your entree anyway because everything arrives in stages. The chef gives you the vegetables and a few pieces of grilled shrimp, and then, if you have a combo entree like I did, one part of them and then the other part, as he’s cooking everything at once.

(As regular readers know, we frown on chains here at the David Allen Blog, but we’re not militant about it. If a chain has only one or two local outlets, that makes it fair game. There’s only one local Benihana and I belatedly decided I might as well post about it.)

It’s not the greatest food or anything, but it’s fine, and the show is pretty good. Who can tire of watching an onion stacked in layers like a volcano shoot steam skyward? This time, though, the wait for the entree seemed long, and the chef encouraged us all (the tables seat eight) to get to work on our vegetables even though the bowls were still arrayed around the grill waiting for him to finish. I practiced a long reach to snag my mushrooms and onions. In a way, then, dinner was not entirely satisfying. Still, it’s an enjoyable special occasion restaurant.

And it’s large! There are more than 20 grills, and most of them were in use on our weeknight visit.

Did you know Benihana is 50 this year? I didn’t. According to the corporate history, the first, in 1964, was in New York City; there are now 70 around the world. I don’t know when Ontario’s opened, but probably the early or mid 1990s; Daily Bulletin types were going there on occasion when I started here in 1997.

Oh, and at the end of your meal, they still give each group a Polaroid of themselves in a little paper frame, as if you were boarding a cruise ship, except here it’s free.

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‘Have you read the 200 best American novels?’

To answer the above question: No. No, I haven’t. The list, which can be read here, is from PBS’ News Hour’s Art Beat blog, combines two other lists and covers American novels from 1791 to 1986. Evidently nothing of interest has been published the past 28 years, which is a shame.

I initially thought I’d read 29 but now think my total is really 27, because on second thought I don’t believe I read “Ethan Frome” at all, and may not have finished the college assignment “The House of Mirth.”

I’m tempted to read “Reveries of a Bachelor” (1850) based purely on the title.

This list is about as useful as any other classic books list, i.e., not that much. But if you bookish types would like to take a peep at it and offer your thoughts, or your total, please do. John Clifford will be smug after learning he read one of the 200 just last month.

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Your two cents: ‘Puerile’

My Sept. 2 column led reader John Lamm to read an earlier column and then send me the following email, with the neutral subject line “Your work.” Here’s his missive in full.

“I read your column in today’s paper — specifically your account of a reader’s possession of copies of the Senate Watergate Hearings, and in that column you referred to your August 8th column. So I dredged up and read that column also.

“I am certain that as a chronicler of current events (at least within the 909) you also feel that your ‘take’ on various events of the past has some merit, simply because you have the forum to present that ‘take.’ I can assure you it doesn’t. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more vacuous, puerile or less-informed stab at wit or wisdom as your blather and version of the time and events of the phenomenality prescient Nixon Presidency you recall in your column.

“Your ‘take’ on Richard Nixon, his presidency, and specifically the events leading up to August 8, 1974 is as erudite as the assignment given the Rialto School District’s 8th graders to prove or disprove the Holocaust.

“In short, you are an idiot.”

Ha! Give him this, he knows how to write a punchy ending. A “sir” would have increased the disdain, though: “In short, sir, you are an idiot.” We could then imagine the finger snap with which he would have dismissed me.

Was the column that bad? It meandered, it was composed of random thoughts on Watergate, but you weren’t expecting a tightly written essay that cut like a diamond, were you?

By the end of the reader’s email I laughed out loud because it’s rare that I get such a rude letter, so it’s kind of a treat. All sorts of replies went through my mind: “You read two of my columns and then spent precious minutes crafting a put-down email; who’s the idiot here?” “Thanks for your ‘take’ on my ‘take,’” “My bosses loved that column and they’re the ones who pay me,” “How can I help you if you won’t tell me how you feel,” that sort of thing. Also, I considered asking if “phenomenality” is a word, but then, I’m an idiot so of course it must be.

My preferred response: “Thanks for letting me know. Best anyway.”
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