Welcome to Meanwhile in the SGV, a regular collection of San Gabriel Valley updates from Eater’s roving reporter, Jim Thurman. This month, more Chinese chains arrive, a rare new Hunan sighting, and a once highly touted restaurant shutters.
San Gabriel— Bad news from acclaimed Sichuan restaurant Nothingness. A burst water pipe flooded the premises, which forced a closure to renovate. The restaurant will not re-open until late February. 288 S. San Gabriel Blvd., Suite 103/104
Rosemead— The once highly touted Shaanxi Gourmet has closed. When it opened in 2011, it quickly became a favorite and waits were common. Even after two seating expansions, the restaurant remained busy. Branches were opened in Las Vegas, and greater Boston and there was a drop-off in quality before a short-lived Arcadia location opened as well. Now, only the Boston area location remains. The replacement is New Century Lobster, a Chiu-chow style lobster place in the mold of nearby 626 Lobster and Boston Lobster, as well as Newport Seafood. Those looking for Shaanxi-style fare still have great alternatives in Shaanxi Garden, Xi’An Tasty, Xi’An Kitchen and Liang’s Kitchen. 8518 W. Valley Blvd.
Rowland Heights— In one of the most ultra-specific concepts ever, a small café focusing on durian sweets has opened. Puan Sri features a small menu of desserts for all lovers of the notoriously stinky fruit, including layer cake, cheesecake, and pizza. Durian beverages, including a durian coffee, are also available. There are also a few standard fried snack items, as well as a few organic teas for those who don’t enjoy the flavorful, yet malodorous “king of all fruits.” It replaces a similar, though durian free, drink and dessert place, Plaisir D’amour Café. 18340 E. Colima Rd., Suite 1C
Rosemead— One of the finer examples of Burmese cuisine in the SGV has closed. Ah May Burmese was around about a year. A yet to be named Vietnamese restaurant will replace it. Burmese cuisine is still represented across the SGV by Yoma Myanmar, Nadi Myanmar, Cetaya Mon and The Golden Owl. 8526 W. Valley Blvd. #106
Rowland Heights— The eastern location of Taiwanese bakery chain Bake Code has become Chatime Café. This is really just a re-branding/combining since Chatime and Bakery Code are brands of La Kaffa International. Chatime is one of the largest boba chains, but hasn’t gained much of a toehold in the SGV. The large space, with a few snack items as well as drinks, desserts and the Bake Code baked goods, is a new approach for the chain in the area. 1355 Nogales St.
City of Industry— Trying to determine the true originator of any food or beverage is a fool’s errand. One of the claimants to boba tea is Hanlin Tea Room, which has opened its first SGV location. Teas, boba drinks and the usual snack items are on the menu. It replaces the wonderfully named Smelly Pot, which featured hot pots with stinky tofu, and lasted four years. 17833 Colima Rd., Suite D
Monterey Park— The opening of Xiang Cuisine marks the first new Hunan-style eatery in the SGV in more than a year. The menu includes a good assortment of Hunan dishes, including steamed fish head smothered with peppers, eggplant with preserved egg and many more. 141 N. Atlantic Blvd.
San Gabriel— Another Chinese chain has arrived, in the form of Wu Ming Hot Pot. Far from your run-of-the-mill hot pot place, the restaurant features spicy Chengdu-style hot pots with presentation, décor and pricing along the lines of Hai Di Lao. It replaces The Spicy Crab in Sunny Plaza. The Cajun-style crabbery lasted about six months. 527 W. Valley Blvd. #168
City of Industry— Yet another Chinese chain, Tai 2 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish, has opened in front of Four Seasons Plaza. The one dish specialty is a hot and sour fish soup featuring preserved vegetable, peppercorn and dried pepper. Either whole fish or filets are available for the soup, along with some interesting appetizers. The space, which has seen frequent turnover, last hosted Bali Crawfish. 18518 Gale Ave.
Rowland Heights— There’s one less place for Northeastern Chinese food in the eastern San Gabriel Valley, as Dongbei Hometown Cuisine has closed. Signage is up and work is busily underway for its upcoming replacement, Na Jia Café, but there is no word on what style of food will be served. 18406 E. Colima Rd., Suite B
Rosemead— January 31 was the last night for Shanghai Bistro. The restaurant was originally opened in 2015 by former staff of Wang Jia, which has since closed. The name change to Shanghai Bistro was accompanied by chef and menu changes, with more dishes from neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces. Signage is down and there is no sign of a replacement. 7637 Garvey Ave.
Alhambra— Yu Ming has closed. The Yunnan-style restaurant lasted about a year. The replacement is Lao Tie, yet another skewers and beer place. At least it appears Lao Tie will offer a range of brews beyond standard corporate brands. 640 W. Valley Blvd. Suite A