So many restaurant openings, so little time.

Northern Cafe

1) Monterey Park: the previous report on China Tasty opening a Lanzhou noodle shop was incorrect. The announcement was based on the Chinese name only, not the English name, and the English name clearly shows this to be a Northern Cafe. This is apparently the same Northern Cafe (going by the font alone) as the ones in Cerritos, Rowland Heights, etc. The focus is on Langzhou pulled noodles. It is easy to presume this place will be a huge hit with non-local Americans (read: white food writers) as there is an open kitchen featuring DTF-like windows offering a look at the hand-pulled noodle shifu. This is all a bit f’d up because the font that Northern Cafe used for the English name is clearly evocative — or, exactly the freaking same — as the Chinese signage of China Tasty. Whatever, someone ought to be sued in 2017. Northern Cafe – Lanzhou Noodles, 128 N Garfield

That said, I recently met a handsome chap (Hi Juliet’s Korean-looking boyfriend) while slurping hot pot in Chengdu. He said Lanzhou’s a shithole and he’d much rather be in Chengdu. Mind you, Chengdu was rocking a hefty AQI of 180 most of that week, but hey, when your hometown’s AQI is over 250 *gulp*, 180 must seem like a slice of blueish-gray paradise. I’m not sure what the air quality of Lanzhou has to do with noodles, but I’m just laying it out there: this noodle soup thing is going to jump the shark like poke. See second evidence below:

2) Rosemead: The Chinese culinary community in LA is still really good at copying, instead of innovating. One month after MIAN enters into JGold’s 101, a new Chongqing “little noodle” shop named Best Noodle House has opened in BFE El Monte. I love the “concept” of MIAN by Chengdu Taste, hopefully you can feel the love in the orignial coverage. I might’ve even chased a few bowls of Chongqing little noodles while doing a layover in CQ:

Bowl 2: #胖妹面庄. yellow pea and slightly spicy "zha". $1.75. Same exact little noodle as the bowl in Chengdu, but twice as good. This is a branch of the sorts famous "chubby little sister" brand, but near the Chongqing North Rail, South Plaza. Planned a 3-stopper noodle walk, but could only muster a bang-bang cause Chongqing noodles are double the size of Chengdu. Many little noodle shops are open at 7am, making it the "pho" of Chongqing. Overall, I don't get it. 🤔. Peace out CQ, next: Tokyo.

A photo posted by TC (@sinosoul) on

Unlike “Mr 123 Lamp” in Chongqing, I just do not fiend for these noodles. The mala chickpea “zha” noodle, topped with an fried egg (which Best Noodle House subs with a braised egg) is basically “the” little noodle of choice for Chongqingers, and if you can’t even get the fried egg right, you really don’ t need to stay open. Best Noodle House, Rosemead

Hot Star Rosemead

3) Rosemead: Hot-Star has arrived in LA. The first “giant” Taipei fried chicken cutlet shop — Buddy Chicken — opened in Arcadia mall but that thing is way too bougie. This is what a Taipei fried chicken shop looks like:

Two Peck Taipei

And the new branch of Shilin Night Market’s Hot-Star sort of gets the feeling right. This is apparently the second branch in the (Not-So-United-States, and they’re still hiring, but I can’t wait to cruise by for some fried chicken. There is a severe dearth of good fried chicken in W. SGV.

Hot-Star, 7540 Garvey Ave #C

Yu Ming Alhambra

4) Alhambra: Hunan Fire & Spice burnt out rather quickly. It’s a bit unbelievable it lasted just about 5 months after taking over O Young Stone Pot No. 2. A Yunan-Sichuan style shop, randomly named Yu Ming. The signature dish, as is the norm for Yunnan joints, is the cross-the-bridge noodles. *yawn* 640 W Valley Blvd

Spicy Crab San Gabriel

5) San Gabriel: Amrose, the rather disgusting AYCE spicy hotpotting joint, is finally dead. It was bought and flipped to K.N. Boiling, but now it’s once again a new “concept. The Spicy Crab opened 3 weeks ago, and the butthurt Yelp reviews are already rolling in. Good times in that little corner, as always. 529 E Valley Blvd Ste 168

Golden Brown Chicken

6) Alhambra: Fremont and the 10 Freeway is getting a fried chicken shack. Golden Brown Chicken takes over a tile store (IIRC?), which was then turned to a medical supply shop (IIRC?). That corner is all kinds of crazy, but there’s a Papa John’s, as well as a 7-11, so hopefully it won’t be DOA. And like I said, every single fried chicken shop is welcome here! 2120 S. Fremont.

Amour Bistro San Gabriel

7) San Gabriel: Bear Bear has been flipped to Amour Bistro. I missed this in the last few recaps, but… Amour is no longer a “club”, it’s a “lounge”. Get on this all you college-aged kiddies recently graduated from Schurr High School. Let me now how it is. Chang’an has a patio, a happy hour, and no jailbait You will usually find me there instead. 250 W Valley Blvd #P

8) Rosemead: Mama’s Lu has opened its gazillionth shop at an old HK bistro. I feel mixed about this. On one hand a successful dumpling restaurateur killed a bad Cantonese bistro, on the other, it’s just yet another Mama’s Lu. Mama’s Lu and Nha Trang bring out serious cognitive dissonance in me. Isn’t everyone so completely burnt out on bun bo hue and beef rolls?

Shinano Monterey Park

9) Monterey Park: File this one under “SGV Restaurant oddities”. Shinano‘s, one of the last (out of 3) surviving Japanese-owned Japanese restaurants in all of Monterey Park, has sold its hard liquor license. Instead, it has applied for a beer and wine license. At $60K+ for a full liquor license transfer, it seems like Shinano is monetizing some of its remaining soft assets. Still haven’t eaten here; tried Taihei once and never again will I eat “authentic” old-timey Japanese in MPK.  1106 S Atlantic Blvd

626 Lobster Rosemead

10) Rosemead: 626 Lobster. After the success of Boston Lobster, it is natural more knock-offs continue to proliferate. The latest in the string of Canto-Viet-Cajun seafood restaurants is 626 Lobster. The menu at the month old estabsishment looks exactly like Boston Lobster/Newport Seafood. And why not? It’s not like you’d rather go to Providence for shrimp. 8632 E Valley Blvd

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This is the SGV restaurant news update that refuse to die. In the final 2 months of 2016, restaurant opening activity has reached a peak. With fresh Chinese money harder than to come, 2017 will probably not see a flurry of activity as 2016. Two final openings and closures:

Gold Tea San Gabriel

11) San Gabriel: Gold Tea replaces Ma Space, a smoking/karaoke lounge. It seems there is a bit of Western dessert wizardry going on, with a bit of Shanghai-Shenzhen dessert bar feel tossed in. Gold Tea is apparently chasing the same crowd of Chang’an: the will-to-do, fashionable Chinese ex-pats looking to escape SGV ennui without driving to Hollywood. Best park: it’s open until 2:00am on the weekends. 1045 E valley Blvd A102

dec 2016 garvey fire

12) Monterey Park: RIP to Pho Ly Thuong Kiet and Hot Pot Restaurant (the only take-out hot pot specialist which also sold sliced lamb and beef). Both were consumed by a four-alarm fire which the Monterey Park FD, voted by the city’s citizen to not be contracted out to the County FD in 2013, could not control for 3 hours. After 3 days, MPFD still couldn’t report on the final cause of the fire. G’job, Monterey Park PD association and the citizens of Monterey Park. 301 E Garvey

And that is the final update for 2016. Hopefuly, there will be one more blog entry on the trope of white food writers traveling to Asia for special “food tourism” reports, inspired by a recent Columbusing piece commissioned by Food Republic for a “food writer” in SF.

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