We've been accused on focusing too much of our San Gabriel Valley attention on Valley Boulevard. To those who feel that way, the following will provide more fodder. Yet, with more than four dozen restaurants in a little over a mile in San Gabriel, it should come as little surprise that there is a lot to cover. Last year, we documented 8 openings and 6 closings along the "miracle mile" of San Gabriel. This Summer has proven no different. Among the changes, a new Sichuan contender arrives, the displacement of a popular Sichuan chef, and the announcement of a new outlet for one of China's biggest chains.
Taste of Chong Qing is the new Sichuan contender, replacing Hua Mei Szechuan Palace. It joins Lao Bian Dumpling in the battle for lovers of all things spicy. Many items on the menu have two or three asterisks, signifying the level of heat. Promising.
The expansive San Gabriel Square (a.k.a. "The Great Mall of China") has seen an unusual amount of turnover of late, with two departures and one future arrival on the upstairs level.
Happy Eating Restaurants (sic) has closed. The restaurant, which replaced Sichuan favorite Shu Feng Garden earlier this year, featured a few Wuhan items added to the Shu Feng menu. With good reason, as the chef stayed on, a fact unbeknownst to many Shu Feng fans (if anyone finds out where he lands, please let us know).
A few doors down, Tasty Village has replaced Spring Wave. Puzzlingly, a standing sign outside the restaurant lists its name as Spring Wave/Tasty Village, despite a new owner, a new chef and a new overhead sign clearly reading Tasty Village. The restaurant continues with essentially the same Shanghainese menu, though there are future plans to drop items and add others in a bit of retooling.
A notice posted in the window of the former Maneki Japanese Restaurant announces the pending opening of Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. It will be the first official location in the western San Gabriel Valley for the chain, which originated in Inner Mongolia, and is now operated by Yum! Brands, the folks behind KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Long John Silver's. It will be the second Little Sheep in the county, as the first opened last Fall in Hacienda Heights. Opening date is unknown at this time.
In Prospect Plaza, Memory Tea House has become just that...a memory. Many people might not remember that Memory Tea House replaced konjac, drink and dessert place Bin Bin Konjac, especially since the signage went unchanged. Adding typical snacks and a larger menu of both flavored and milk teas apparently wasn't enough to stay open. No word on a new tenant, but the site was recently a flurry of activity, including the mystifying sight of a Fender Stratocaster guitar (on its stand) atop a counter as items were busily being moved in and out. Meanwhile, you can still get your Bin Bin fix at their remaining outlets in Arcadia and Walnut.
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And, in Sunny Plaza, a Korean soondubu restaurant, A Ri Rang Tofu House, has replaced Vegetarian Wok. Once located in Alhambra, Vegetarian Wok was known for its mock meat dishes, generous portions and bargain prices. Word is the owners are taking a well deserved break from running a restaurant.
A Ri Rang Tofu House: 529 E. Valley Blvd., Suite 128, San Gabriel; (626) 288-6069.
Taste of Chong Qing: 172 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; (626) 288-1357.
Tasty Village: 140 W. Valley Blvd., Suite 209, San Gabriel, (626) 571-1178.