Welcome to Meanwhile in the SGV, a semi-regular update on the restaurant scene in San Gabriel Valley. This month, yet another Koreatown favorite opens in the eastern SGV, one of the area’s favorite pho spots is down an outlet, a chef starts his own place and Instagrammable places open.
Rowland Heights: Korean restaurants in the ESGV used to be local one-offs, but they’re increasingly giving way to branches of Koreatown favorites. Continuing this recent trend, pork BBQ specialist Ham Ji Park has opened. Highlights here are pork ribs and their touted pork neck stew with potatoes. It replaces another Korean restaurant, New House of Korea. 18981 Colima Rd.
San Gabriel: One of the first truly OG mainland China-based chain hot pot places is no more, as Chengdu Pot has closed after a little more than two years. The first hot pot place we knew of that had brain tofu (pig’s brains), the non-hot pot menu listed items such as rabbit and the rarely found Sichuan herb houttuynia. SGV folks will remember the space as home to a couple of alternating Yunnan-style places, or earlier yet, Spike’s Teriyaki Bowl. 1530 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
Hacienda Heights: Taiwanese snack house BreadFish Café has opened a second location. With an expanded menu, look for some different dishes to go along with the usual Taiwanese favorites such as popcorn chicken, beef noodle soup and pork chop over rice. It replaces the Chinese-Vietnamese 2011 Noodle House, which sort of lives on, as a vermicelli dish, beef pho and vegetarian pho remain on the new menu. 15848 Halliburton Rd.
Rowland Heights: A SGV pho favorite is down one outlet, as the eastern branch of Nha Trang, known as Nha Trang Flavor, has closed. There are four remaining Nha Trang locations, all in the WSGV. It will be replaced by Spicy Hot Dip, which appears on the surface to be another sort of hot pot place. 18303 Colima Rd., Unit A
San Gabriel: What happens when a chef at a fairly well regarded restaurant decides to go out on his own? You get Chongqing Special Noodles. The chef, who worked at Best Noodle House, left to start his own place serving spicy Chongqing-style dishes, including various local noodles, the wonderful fried chicken cubes (listed as Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken) and mouth water chicken (listed as Cold Steamed Chicken with Hot Sauce). Curiously, the menu also features a few Shaanxi-style items, like biang biang noodles. It replaces long-time Taiwanese hot pot spot Lu Gi, which had been around since 2009. 708 E. Las Tunas Dr, #B.
Rowland Heights: The interestingly named Clay Poq has opened in Yes Plaza. This is a hot pot place, with a small, nine item menu of hot pots, plus three appetizers, including meat or intestine skewers. The days of 100-200 item menus seems to be on the wane, as focused menus seem to be where it’s at, or going. It replaces, of all things, a coin laundry. 1745 Fullerton Rd.
San Gabriel: New to the second floor at Focus Plaza is Northern Chinese Cuisine, which shouldn’t be confused with Northern Chinese Restaurant, Northern Café or Northern Cuisine. Meat pies (xian bing), the ever-present kebabs and Dongbei-style staples – sweet and sour pork, stir-fried eggplant with green peppers and potatoes, tofu with meat and peppers – are featured. The restaurant continues a recent trend of Northern and Dongbei-style openings. It replaces New Tasty L.A. which lasted a little over four months. 140 W. Valley Blvd., Suite 209
Alhambra: Orange County drink shop 7 Leaves Café, has opened their first Los Angeles County location in a former KFC. Originating in Little Saigon in 2012, the chain has grown to 10 locations, 8 of which are in the OC. Their 10 item drink menu shows the Little Saigon connection by featuring Vietnamese iced coffee and a mung bean-pandan milk tea. Macarons and strawberry custard croissants are bakery items to go with your drinks, which can be customized with add ins like boba or grass jelly. 151 N. Garfield Ave.
San Gabriel: Speaking of boba, Wushiland Boba has opened a stylish place in Focus Plaza. A branch of Taiwanese tea chain, OO Tea, it marks their first venture into the SGV market, having first opened — as OO Tea — in San Diego. In addition to boba drinks and teas, they have a red bean black tea latte and an ovaltine latte, while snacks include waffles with various sweet or savory toppings and stinky tofu. If that’s not enough, the logo is a smiling fish holding a boba cup on its back. 140 W. Valley Blvd., Suite 104
San Gabriel: The age of Instagrammable food is well upon us. Further evidence comes at Victory Kitchen, which features super, ultra-cute items like a spam & rice Hello Kitty portrait atop curry rice, or fries served in a toy truck or shopping cart. It’s probably great for kids (at least we’re hoping it’s aimed at kids). It replaces Zumo & IFreeze, which featured Thai ice cream rolls, sushi burritos, and shabu shabu. 288 S. San Gabriel Blvd., Suite 102
City of Industry: Another spot featuring instagrammable items is Café de Paris. A Korean-based desserts and drinks chain with locations in several countries,there are some eminently instagram-worthy items. These include some fruit drinks served topped with heaping mounds of fruit and a small French flag (look up mango bon bon for an example), along with teas served in light bulb shaped glasses. 17575 Colima Rd.