Welcome to Meanwhile in the SGV, a monthly update on the ever-busy restaurant scene in San Gabriel Valley, a hotbed of Asian cuisine in the Los Angeles area. This month, another major Chinese chain opens inside the Westfield Santa Anita, while another shop serves cheese foam.
Arcadia: The first U.S. location of popular Chinese pan roasted fish chain, Sichuan Kungfu Fish, has landed at Westfield Santa Anita Mall. Fitting in with the mall, the restaurant is more upscale in décor and price point. They serve whole fish a choice of sauce base in fish shaped pans. They’re also all-in on the kung fu theme, naming dishes accordingly. What this has to do with Sichuan, a landlocked, river dominated province, is a little unclear. 400 S. Baldwin
San Gabriel: The chef and staff from recently sold Sichuan restaurant Huolala have decamped to open Nothingness. Despite signage reading “Huo La La” and a large section of the menu labeled “Huolala Style”, they’re saying the new restaurant isn’t Huolala. Umm, ok. Meanwhile, Monterey Park’s Huolala continues on with a new owner, chef and staff. Whatever one calls it, it replaces Hong Yei, a restaurant known for Peking Duck, which dated back to 2007. 288 S. San Gabriel Blvd., #103/104
Monterey Park: Displaced when Jade Plaza burned down last December, Pho Ly Thuong Kiet resurfaced as Pho LTK in El Monte. Now, they’ve also returned – under their full name — to Monterey Park and Garvey Avenue. It replaces Pistachio Kitchen. 580 E. Garvey Ave.
Arcadia: The space that formerly housed the second branch of Din Tai Fung will become home to another Jazz Cat Restaurant. When it opens, this will be the third location for the hot pot restaurant. Contrary to reports, the nearby original Din Tai Fung is still open. 1088 S. Baldwin Ave.
Rowland Heights: With the imminent opening of Heekcaa, the cheese foam tea craze is about to get a lot more interesting — and a lot more bizarre. This will be a branch of the Chinese chain at the forefront of the trend. At least that’s what they’re saying. Keep in mind, the chain changed it’s name to Heytea, there’s a Heektea nearby and another spelling variant operates in the Bay Area. Shades of what went on years ago with “real” and knock-off Little Sheep? 18888 Labin Ct. (in Pearl Plaza)
San Gabriel: The SGV restaurant circle of life is complete, as Ding’s Garden has returned to San Gabriel after a seven year absence. This marks Ding’s fifth location, joining Irvine, Arcadia, and Las Vegas in opening this year. The Shanghainese heavy menu is the same used at the other locations. It replaces hot pot place ap27, and is just three blocks from their old Valley Plaza location. 400 E. Valley Blvd.
San Gabriel: Another hot pot restaurant, Lights of City Hot Pot has opened. Reportedly a chain in China, it features a buffet style counter for diners to make selections from. Unusually, it also serves at least two Shaanxi-style items: “Chinese hamburger” and cold skin noodles. It replaces Fat Bull Café, a Sichuan-style hot pot place that lasted three years. 120 N. San Gabriel Blvd., Suite I
City of Industry: Noodle soups, baos and breakfast items, some of them Hangzhou-style, make up the small menu at P&R Taste. It replaces the Xinjiang-style lamb specialist, Mr. Lamb, though English signage remains for the previous tenant. 17863 Colima Rd.
Temple City: One Sichuan restaurant replaces another as Yao Dian Zi is now open. It replaces Hao You Lai, which was known for copying — not always successfully — the menu of the SGV’s most highly touted Sichuan restaurant. 9679 Las Tunas Dr.
Hacienda Heights: Another Sichuan eatery in, another one out, as Little Spicy Kitchen replaces Da Tian Dou, which lasted 10 months. 15827 E. Gale Ave.