POMONA-PALOOZA! (or Rowlandheightapalooza... Uplandpalooza, etc.)
My Lovely Tasting Assistant and I will be in Pomona on Saturday for her pharmacy school interview, and Pomona dinner chow info is pretty thin on the ground.
Aside from Dr. Bob's and that NY pizza place in Upland, my only other idea is Diamond Bar/Rowland Heights. However we rarely get out to that area these days, and our rotation is pretty small... basically Supreme Dragon, Stinky Tofu King, Ma Lan. Never made it to Foo Foo Tei, nor Green Village/City/etc. when it was in San Gabriel and certainly not since they've been in Rowland Heights.
So, my question is in 3 parts
1) Is there anything chowhound-worthy to eat for dinner in the vicinity of Western University in Pomcona?
2) Top picks in Diamond Bar (we've never been-- I know Soot Bull Jeep has or had another outpost there. Any significant differences that would make it worth going to when I've got the Koreatown one in my backyard?)
3) A few of your top current picks in Rowland/Hacienda Heights
Too bad Dr. Bob's isn't on the way home :)
OK, so here's what we wound up doing....
Got to the interview right on time, which is to say 7:30am-ish. No time for donuts or coffee other than what I made in my press pot at home. After the interview ended, I was ready for Los Jarritos, Coffee Klatch, Foo Foo Tei. My wife was stressed out to the point where she none of it sounded good.... she needed comfort food. We googled "noodle house" to try the fish ball soup and mutton goji dumplings that jessicatl recommended, and were inadvertently diverted to a poseur, "No. 1 Noodle House" which was in Yes Plaza, a Sichuan place, so no dumplings to be had. We were hungry, and so ordered anyway-- we went with one of our favorite Sichuan standbys, the wontons in chili oil (having most recently eaten an outstanding rendition of them at Yunnan Garden on Valley somewhere west of Atlantic, I think). These were sub-standard. The wontons were not light and wispy as they should have been, but rather were densely packed and chewy like a Cantonese shao mai. The chili oil was mostly heat with very little flavor-- disappointing. Also went for the beef rib noodle soup, also disappointing... less meat than gristle, and the soup was overly star anise-y.
Still in desperate need of some good comfort food to sooth my wife's post-interview jitters, we put out an emergency call for bloody rice cakes, which you can read all about in this post:
Still hungry, we tracked down the intended Noodle House (realizing after we arrived that this was the new location of the former San Gabriel location that exilekiss called everyone's attention to). We'd been to the San Gabriel location once, tried the made-to-order baozi and found it was fine-- but didn't rush to return. This time we ordered the mutton and goji guotie and the fish ball noodle soup.
First, the soup. Noodles were very obviously made to order-- nice large bowl filled with a clear broth, some bok choy, and about 6 or 7 fish balls. The fish balls were also obviously freshly made and were pillowy soft-- almost like a nice fluffy kneidlach but, well, fishy (in a nice way). I liked them. However, my wife reacted differently... after a lifetime of eating those dense, chewy, processed supermarket meatballs, she was put off by the texture of fresh ones. The broth was bright and clear, like a mild wonton soup, really mellow and soothing. The noodles were.... well, undercooked. Not so much al dente as they were al dentures. At first this put me off, but after a few minutes sitting in the hot soup they softened up to the right consistency, and I wound up wondering if perhaps the wily Noodle House fish ball noodle soup chefs actually knew what they were doing.
The mutton and goji guotie were great. A little oily, but when you're ordering pan fried mutton dumplings, I suppose that's par for the course. Surprisingly, it was not gamey at all, just a nice, robust juicy meatiness offset by the mild sweetness of the goji. I'd go back for this. My only complaint was the construction of the dumplings was such that they had not been sealed well, and some of the juice leaked out onto the plate.
After hitting up Dolphin Bay for our bloody rice cakes and a boba, we waddled our fully stuffed bodies to the farm store. Although food at this point was of no interest to us, I'm grateful to know this place exists. We'll be heading back when we're hungrier, and when it's not monsooning. I imagine this place is bizarrely idyllic, considering it's in Pomona.
Thanks again everyone for your tips. I'll be marking this thread as one of my favorites and will be checking back whenever I head out to the area.
There's an Afghan in Clairmont place my housmate always raves about called Walter's. I think it's on Yale Ave near the Folk Music Center (a great place to shop if you like music) She says they have this green suace that is served with everything that is da bomb. I have not been there myself yet but plan to in the near future.
Yay! Happy to payback Mr Taster's excellent work on chow over the years. So, I've been a chowhound for a few years both in NY and LA, and I'm glad I can add something to the discussion, having explored the cullinary wasteland around my current job at Cal Poly pretty well. Some suggestions that are chow worthy:
Zeroth: round the corner from western, the pomona baking co does some great fresh pastries. If you need breakfast before the interview, that's where I'd go.
I prefer some crust in clarmont, but that's a little out of the way....
Firstly: coffee. Right near cal poly/western, there's an amazing coffee shop, sugar rush cafe, with artisinal coffess brewed in chemexes: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sugar-rush-cafe-walnut
This is also a good breakfast stop: thie sunrise sandwich is good, but it's the coffee that stands out.
Second: a prett solid vietamese place in a shopping genter mall on holt: their bahn mi are pretty solid (wouldn't knock bosa's socks off, but for this neighborhood, good), good pho tai and their lemongrass beef bun is pretty epic:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/pho-hoa-pasteur-pomona-2. This would be a good place for lunch.
Third: Sanamluang cafe has a branch in pomona, north of od on indina hill. I'm a big fan of their ka nom pak kard, the thai version of latkes, made with radish and onion instead of potato and onion, the papaya salad is suitably sour, but otherwise, thaitown in LA has this place beat.
Fourth: if you're willing to go to upland, ther's an unusual burmese place in a mall. It's very salty noodles, great tea leaf salad, good nenji (some sort of cold noodle dish
Sorry to link to yelp, but it's the easiest place to find addresses.....hope this pays back the karma that I've milked with all your excellent reviews, Mr t.
Wow, great reconnaissance work, pslpsl! I'm especially intrigued by the Burmese place... we've been to Golden Triangle in Whittier-- loved the tea leaf salad. How does it compare?
And I'd love to try chemex brewed coffee... we may need to have a cup at Professor Salt's place as well to compare.
re: Mr Taster
Definitely check out Sanam Luang Cafe. The BBQ chicken is awesome as is everything I have tried. The prices are great as well.
Also, if you don't mind driving towards Chino there is a great Michaocan Style taqueria called El Rey on Riverside Dr. Delicious cabeza, tripas, buche, asada, pastor and some great salsas. Very authentic and a hidden gem.
I would second the recommendation for Viva Madrid. Very cute, cozy place. The food is good, but I think it's more about your surroundings. Really good sangria, and except to wait for dinner.
As for Diamond Bar, I don't really think there's anything spectacular. At least nothing comes to mind.
I really like Noodle House in Rowland Heights. It's off Fullerton and Gale. Pretty new. Really AWESOME fish ball soup, steamed dumplings (mutton and goji berry, pumkin...) This place runs a wait for dinner too. Also like Baimon in Rowland Heights for Thai. Probably the best in the area. My Thai's friend's parents swear by this place. They are also very friendly and the food is well priced.
As for the farm store. When it's awesome, it's REALLY awesome. When it sucks, it REALLY sucks. I've been here on an off day, and there is NO good produce - a lot of it actually looks a day from being rotten. But they do sell Dr. Bob's Ice Cream!
Pomona and its surrounds are pretty much a culinary wasteland. A few decent Saturday dinner choices include:
114 N. Indian Hill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711
Family style Italian…awesome! They serve only one pasta dish per night with your choice of four different sauces plus an amuse bouche. Clam sauce is da bomb! Great venue.
225-B Yale Avenue
Spanish Tapas Bar. Love this cozy place! Cool vibe.
11748 Central Ave
Same owner as in LA. Some of SoCal’s finest ‘Q. Best bets: St. Louis Ribs, Beef Ribs, Hot Links, Greens, Mac ‘n Cheese, 7-Up Cake, Sock-it-to-Me Cake, Peach Cobbler. Very casual.
In Diamond Bar/Rowland Heights:
18441 Colima Road
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Live fresh fish, lobster, crab, shrimp, and clams. Great fried frog’s legs. Can be pricey. Inquire about the price per pound when ordering live seafood to avoid the attack of the $300 white crab!
Ong Go Jib
18891 Colima Rd.
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Best Korean BBQ in the area (Galbi). A real hole-in-the-wall. Same owners as Ong Ga Nae on the corner of Colima and Fairway but the meat is definitely better and better prepared here. Can’t explain – they swear it’s the same. Be prepared to wait during prime time.
2841 S. Diamond Bar Blvd., Suite C
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
Killer fried chicken. Drumsticks or wings – 6 piece half or 12 piece full order. Cooked fresh and hot to order. Small, casual mom ‘n pop shop.
216 N Glendora Ave
Glendora, CA 91741
Wonderfully charming wine bar and bistro in old town Glendora. Small but delicious menu of salads and small plates. Superb wine pairings. Elegant atmosphere, attentive service.
1810 E. Route 66
Glendora, CA 91740
Great little restaurant that stands tall in offering many things to many people. Virtually everything is or borders on excellent. Not an easy task for such a large menu that includes: steaks, seafood, California, Pan Asian, Italian and fusion. The steamed clams appetizer is a must. It’s covered with a baked bread crust to use for dipping the sumptuous broth. The three-cheese penne pasta is incredible as are the shrimp and scallops.
Further west, on the way home:
1823 S San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Superb, high-end Mexican cuisine. Chef Ramon and his wife take undeniable pride in delivering some of the finest alta cucina Mexican cuisine to be found anywhere. Fabulous Braised Lamb Shank, Beef Cheeks and seafood specials. Best handmade tortillas on the planet.
Bollini’s Pizzeria Neapolitana
2315 S. Garfield Avenue
Monterey Park, CA
Authentic Neapolitana (thin, crispy crust) pizzas. Fired, as they should be, in an authentic, wood burning Italian-made pizza bread oven at 1200 degrees. The wood gives the pizza a unique smoky, “crispy/chewy crust”. The Arugula Salad at $8 is one of the tastiest I’ve had.
If in Upland and right by the Mountain location of San Biagio's (the pizza really is amazing!), walk a few stores east towards Mountain, and you shall find Handel's Homemade Ice Cream. Delish! I've not had a chance to try their holiday flavors (i.e. Pumpkin swirl and candy cane), but I can attest to all of their non-chocolate offerings (I'm not a huge chocolate fan). Any of the cheesecake flavors, blueberry cobbler, banana cream pie, sherbet, strawberry, and peach flavors are fantastic. For the child within you, you might like their cotton candy...strange, I know, but when it hits your tongue, it really does taste like cotton candy. The graham central station flavor will do that to you, too....just like a graham cracker.
If you have time for cocktails, Hotel Casa 425 in the Claremont Village area is quite nice. I'm a fan of the Violet and the Pear martini there.
Also in Claremont is Aruffo's....I had the King Crab ravioli (and it's handmade daily) and found it to be quite lovely. They also offer wine flights for $8.
There's the Abbey if you're looking for a good burger and an amazing beer selection.
I totally agree with the Donut Man, however, the special strawberry and peach donuts will not be available as they are out of season. I'm not particularly fond of the tiger tails, but I do enjoy their buttermilk bars.
I don't know exactly where the school is located. But Pomona is adjacent to Claremont, and there may be some options there. When I used to spend time in that part of the world, we'd regularly dine at Inka Trails, a Peruvian joint on Foothill just east of Towne (next door to the Shell station). Good ceviche, saltados (beef, chicken,seafood). Very inexpensive. Pleasant, family-run joint.
Whenever I'm near that 10 / 57 intersection, my needle points magnetically northward to Glendora and The Donut Man. It's totally worth it for decadent, overfilled donuts.
Donut Man's coffee is lousy, thin, brown plonk, so take a quick stop off the freeway to hit Coffee Klatch (in San Dimas), where the head barista's a world barista champion or something. In any case, the best coffee you'll get in this part of the world.
I've never been by during their business hours, but judging by the produce that Cal Poly's ag school brings to the UC Irvine farmer's market, I'd stop by their Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch.
Best of luck to Mrs. LTA!
re: Professor Salt
Thanks for the tip and the well wishes, Professor!
I never knew about the farm store-- what a great suggestion. The interview is from 7:30am-12:00pm so we'll have plenty of time to check it out. I'll keep The Donut Man & coffee in mind if we're up for dessert.
Still looking for a decent place to eat lunch and dinner-- does the farm store have a restaurant?
re: Mr Taster
Second Foo-Foo Tei. Great!
Try the #17, a wonderful, creamy white noodle Tonkotsu ramen with stewed pork belly (add an egg to kick it up a notch). The Cha Shu (stewed pork) is world class as well. Then try any number of their myriad of small plates in the izakaya tradition and you’ll understand my enthusiasm.
The owner/chef, Takeshi Murakami, is very passionate and maintains tight control over quality and customer satisfaction daily. Ice cold draft Sapporo to boot!
The store is amazing and the produce too, but it isn't what you'd call cheap, just so you know. That said, I don't mind at all paying the prices for produce that's excellent. Be aware that they sell things they don't grow—read the labels carefully.
As for food near Western College, there's a Senor Baja (fish tacos!) on Mission between Garey and Towne for lunch. As for dinner, hang out and go shopping along Colima and then head east to Centro Basco for the family-style dinner at 19.30?
re: Das Ubergeek
Interesting-- I didn't know we had Basque restaurants here. Unfortunately my Lovely Tasting Assistant was not impressed with the meal at Woolgrowers in Bakersfield, and so I think this would be a hard sell. Love the fish tacos idea though. Are they good, basic Ensenada style? Nothing spoils my day more than grilled fish with salsa and orange cheese in a floppy tortilla passed off as a "fish taco".