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Noodles, Milk Tea, and Lobster Galore in San Gabriel Valley’s White Hot Scene

Plus Chongqing-style noodles and a super-old Beijing restaurant expansion

Welcome to Meanwhile in the SGV, a regular report for San Gabriel Valley’s prolific and ever-changing restaurant scene. Reporting for the first time on Eater, roving reporter Jim Thurman finds all the latest highlights from America’s vibrant epicenter of Asian cuisine.

This month, a branch of the oldest restaurant in Beijing opens, a familiar name returns to the WSGV and more Lanzhou and Chongqing-style noodles.

Rowland Heights: The first American branch of historic Beijing roast duck restaurant Bian Yi Fang has opened in Diamond Plaza. Dating to 1855, the restaurant is reportedly the oldest in Beijing. The pricey duck menu features items such as roast duck, duck feet in mustard sauce and duck meat roll, but there are other options should you not be in a fowl mood. Judging by Yelp reviews, there is no threat to the legacy of the late, lamented SGV branch of Quanjude, Beijing’s other historic duck restaurant. 18888 Labin Ct.

Monterey Park: What was originally believed to be a second branch of hand-pulled noodle specialist China Tasty turned out to be a branch of Northern Café, which has locations in Hacienda Heights, Cerritos and Westwood. We were caught off by Chinese characters matching the Chinese name of the other restaurant in exactly the same font, something former Eater writer Tony Chen has pointed out. The other locations of Northern Café don't have hand-pulled Lanzhou-style noodles one can view being prepped, but that's what they'll have here. It replaces China based chain Three Travellers Bone Hot Pot. 128 N. Garfield, Suite B

Rosemead: Best Noodle House has opened in the former One Plus One Café. Look for authentic, chickpea topped Chongqing-style zhejiang mian, along with some other Chongqing and Sichuan dishes, such as dan dan mian, wontons in chili oil and Saliva chicken (translated from “mouth-watering”). With the emphasis on Chengdu-style Sichuan dishes, it’s nice to see the return of a dedicated Chongqing restaurant. 9329 E. Valley Blvd.

Arcadia: If you’re confused upon seeing Liang’s Kitchen menus and plates at Cindy’s Noodle Land, there’s an explanation. With the same ownership as the Liang’s in Monterey Park and Cerritos, the restaurant features the same menu of Shaanxi and Henan-style noodles and lamb dishes. It replaces (Weixuan) Tasty, which lasted just two months in a space that has now housed four restaurants in 16 months. 921 S. Baldwin Ave.

Arcadia: A name from the past returned to the western SGV when Ding’s Garden opened in an Arcadia mall. The first Ding’s — not to be confused with unrelated Ding’s — opened 12 years ago on Valley, then moved to San Gabriel, then Rowland Heights. A more streamlined menu continues focus on Shanghai area items, though minus staples like rice cakes and xiao long bao are only sold frozen. You will, however, find Idiot’s Dry Noodle and Grandmother’s Drunken Fish. This marks the second Ding’s Garden opened this year, the first being in Irvine. 733 W. Naomi Ave. #D

Temple City: Tea house comings and goings rarely merit mention, but the closure of Tenju Tea House is an exception. With a large selection of unique teas and the best work and study space in the SGV, Tenju was something special in a sea of tea houses. Tenju continues on with their tiny Hacienda Heights outlet inside a dried food store, while Meet Tea replaces it in Rosemead, ostensibly with the same tea selection. 5817 Rosemead Blvd.

Rowland Heights: San Francisco tea house Tancca will be coming to Pacific Plaza, replacing an outlet of Ten Ren’s Tea Time. No opening date, but signage is up. Known for their milk teas promoted as using only 100% real milk, Tancca is also known for puffcream, Himalayan salt milk foam and cheese milk foam. 18423 E. Colima Rd.

Rosemead: With a kitchen that trained at the ridiculously popular Newport Seafood, 626 Lobster poises itself as a contender in the WSGV lobster race. A rather familiar looking menu is as seafood heavy as you might expect, with extra emphasis on lobster and crab. 8632 E. Valley Blvd.

Monterey Park: The space once occupied by okonomiyaki specialist Gottsui has become Teto Sweets. The cute little café features coffees (including a taro latte), while a small snack menu includes various meat fillings for gua baos or pancakes and mapo tofu fries as well as Japanese-style cheesecake. 610 E. Garvey Ave.

San Gabriel: Further evidence that there’s no let up to the crustacean craze in the SGV, The Spicy Crab has opened in Sunny Plaza, replacing yet another hot pot place. This opening, combined with the bowl-oriented Boiling Hot and the upcoming China Taste means all but one restaurant space in the plaza will have turned over in little more than a year. 529 E. Valley Blvd., Suite 168