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Culture Feel Good Restaurants

How A Movement To Support San Gabriel Valley Restaurants Became A Major Food Event

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100,000 dining spots have closed nationwide, with a harsh winter leading many to expect that number to only go up over time.

That being said, group efforts have come about to help get restaurants in some areas the support they need. Of course, stimulus funding and federal/state aid is the optimal solution, but for those that choose to stay open, getting the word out is crucial to making enough money to keep selling food.

In Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, one can attribute a movement called “SGV Eats” as one of the primary reasons the restaurant industry is able to keep going. Originally a group created by friends Alan An, Megan Lam, and Brian Ngoy, their movement has now exploded into over 32,000 people on Facebook, spreading the word on restaurants all over the region.

Photos courtesy of SGV Eats and Brian Nittayo

“When we saw that restaurants were struggling during the pandemic, it ignited something in us to help out,” An told Foodbeast. He, Lam, and Ngoy together started the original group, called “SGV Restaurants Open During COVID-19” at first, as a way to bring light to those restaurants looking to get help.

Lam told Foodbeast that the group started as just the three of them telling their friends, which led to a cascading influx of invitations that saw the group grow to the size it is now. All of the members are locals and restaurateurs who promote and provide support to eateries beyond just their own or their favorites. It’s what Ngoy described as a “phenomenal response” that helped elevate the entire restaurant scene and keep it afloat.

Thanks to their efforts, restaurants who were maybe seeing a few orders a day would sell out close to opening, helping keep many restaurant owners going through the pandemic.

It’s also allowed the innovative food scene in the San Gabriel Valley to flourish. For those not in the know, San Gabriel Valley is an incredibly diverse community: over 44% of the population is Latino and a quarter of residents are of some sort of Asian descent, according to data from the Los Angeles Times.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats and Brian Nittayo

The SGV is known as a hub for many Asian restaurants, but An, Lam, and Ngoy also surprised even themselves by discovering a large, diverse set of unique restaurants through all of the owners and customers that shared photos and stories of the food. From Filipino food in West Covina to the storied seafood banquet restaurants of San Gabriel, there’s a lot of history and flavor from many parts of the world that reside in the SGV.

You’ll also find a lot of unique restaurants offering creative takes on dishes, often inspired by the meshing of cultures that happens in this region. Mexican and Asian-inspired pizzas, birria loaded burgers, and even Sichuan peppercorn-infused queso are just some examples of the unique dishes the region has to offer.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats

The team behind SGV Eats is making sure that these restaurants continue to get support for the unique creations they’re making. Outside of the regular daily support the group offers, SGV Eats is also launching a dining event that will spread across the entire valley. Called Eat SGV Week, it features nearly two dozen restaurants that are a part of the group, all of which are providing unique specials and offers to encourage people to order food.

Viral pizza spot Rose City Pizza, for example, is creating a Korean Popcorn Chicken pizza, a spin-off of one of their more recent mouthwatering menu creations. Other options from headliners include a combo meat plate from 38 Degrees Alehouse, a combo pack of obanyaki (stuffed Japanese pancakes) and ube horchata from Mr. Obanyaki, and a meal platter from Hummus Labs, arguably one of the most popular restaurants in the SGV to date.

The Eat SGV Week runs from December 7th to 13th, although you can preorder for pickup on any of those days already on their website.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats

Going from support group to organizing a dining event that brings together multiple restaurants feels like a large leap. For the SGV Eats team, though, it was just another way to bring assistance and unite the local dining community to help keep it thriving.

Beyond just the Eat SGV week, SGV Eats hopes to find more ways to encourage the community and get folks to discover and explore more local restaurants.

As a bullhorn for one of the more innovative dining regions in the country, they’re definitely a group anybody should join, follow, and be a part of to learn about some of the most creative culinary eats the San Gabriel Valley has to offer.

Categories
Restaurants

Popcorn Chicken PIZZA: The Boba House Snack Of Our Dreams

There have been many innovative pizzas from LA-based Rose City Pizza in the past few years, but their latest creation may very well be my favorite yet. 

The viral pizzeria behind the Birria, Elote, and Al Pastor Pizza has now added a Popcorn Chicken Pizza to the menu and its gangbusters. 

Inspired by the immensely popular snack found at Taiwanese boba shops, the new Popcorn Chicken Pizza takes breaded chicken thigh pieces and fries them along with Thai basil. For the pizza base, a simple rainfall of mozzarella cheese is met with a dash of five-spice. Once the chicken joins the pie, it’s drizzled with a unique Thai Basil aioli made in house and topped with the crispy fried basil leaves. 

Photo courtesy of @pham_bot

Our own Constantine Spyrou recently tried it and had this to say about the new addition: 

“It was bomb,” young Spyrou told us. “The chili oil and the Thai basil aioli combine to give it some punchy flavor. The five-spice adds a nice undertone to everything.” 

He also added this was one of the best things he’d eaten in 2020 and a great take on popcorn chicken in pizza form.

High praise, but honestly, I agree 100 percent. 

You can find the Popcorn Chicken Pizza now on the Rose City Pizza menu. Other notable pies include the ever-viral Birria Pizza, Al Pastor Pizza, Elote Pizza, and Manila Sunrise Filipino Breakfast Pizza. 

Categories
Restaurants

Blaze Turns Up The Heat With Ghost Pepper Hot Chicken Pizza

Photo courtesy of Blaze Pizza

I’ve been a huge fan of throwing hot sauce on pizza, been doing it ever since I saw the scene from Selena as a kid. I’m a firm believer that pizza is one of the foods that can be enjoyed sweet, savory, or even spicy. 

Well, it looks like Blaze Pizza is leaning heavily towards the spicy. 

The pizzeria where Lebron hangs his hat has introduced a Hot Chicken Pizza that encapsulates some of the spiciest toppings seen at a fast-casual concept. 

Inspired by Hot Chicken Sandwiches, the pizza boasts a base of red sauce and mozzarella cheese. It’s then topped with a scorpion pepper slaw, Ghost Pepper Chicken Meatballs, and finished with a Frank’s RedHot drizzle. 

You can find the Hot Chicken Pizza at participating Blaze Pizza locations nationwide for a limited time. 

Categories
Restaurants

Red Lobster Cooks Up Kung Pao Noodles With Fried Lobster

Photo courtesy of Red Lobster

I’ve tried many a dish over at Red Lobster over the years, probably my favorite creation in recent memory being their Fried Lobster and Cheddar Bay Waffles. It appears Red Lobster is bringing back that Fried Lobster in a new, more savory form this fall season. 

The house that Cheddar Bay cravings and buttery seafood dunks built has just released a new Kung Pao Noodles and Fried Lobster dish. 

Made up of hand-battered fried lobster tail, the dish is paired with noodles tossed in a sweet and spicy soy-ginger sauce. Edamame, cabbage, crispy onions, cashews, and green onions are added to round out the dish. 

Luckily, no peanuts for anyone with allergies itching to try this. 

It looks like you can find this Kung Pao Noodles and Fried Lobster now at your local Red Lobster. You can also order alternative proteins to the dish, including crispy shrimp or chicken. 

Categories
Alcohol Drinks Restaurants

Red Lobster x MTN DEW Collab Reveals ‘Dew Garita’

Photo courtesy of Red Lobster

Two iconic brands are coming together in a pretty outlandish way. This week, Red Lobster has announced a partnership with PepsiCo. The first result of that collaboration? A MTN Dew cocktail served at Red Lobster Restaurants. 

Yep, that’s right. 

Called the DEW Garita, the alcoholic beverage is said to pair nicely with the restaurant chain’s iconic Cheddar Bay Biscuits. 

While Red Lobster hasn’t revealed exactly what’s inside the cocktail, deeming it top-secret in a statement, it kind of fits the spirit of MTN Dew itself. You don’t really know what’s in it — and you kind of don’t want to know — but it tastes pretty good nonetheless.

Hopefully, that includes tequila, though. 

Fans of Red Lobster or MTN Dew can find their new collaborative drink in restaurants sometime this fall. 

Categories
Restaurants

TGI Fridays Reveals Butcher Box Concept, Lets You Order Meats To Grill At Home

Photo Courtesy of TGI Fridays

With many of us staying at home as much as possible, at least until there’s an end in sight for this pandemic, recreating our favorite restaurants’ taste keeps us partially sane.

TGI Fridays’ latest Butcher Shop concept will let you grill up all your favorite Fridays proteins right from home. Sure, take out is always an option, but there’s nothing like biting into something that’s only seconds off the grill.

The Butcher Shop package comes with your favorite meats offered at the restaurant chain. This includes uncooked premium meats accompanied by accoutrements to build a hearty meal with:

The Surf & Turf Kit features two flat iron steaks, four chicken breasts, two salmon filets, and 18 garlic-marinated shrimp, sides, salad, and breadsticks with seasonings, butter, and the chain’s signature Whiskey Glaze.

Not gonna lie, the ability to control how much Whiskey Glaze I throw on my meat is a HUGE incentive to try this for me.

You can find these Butcher Shop Kits by ordering from the Butcher Shop section on the TGI Fridays Website.

Categories
Fast Food

WaBa Grill’s New Take Home Feast Will Feed An Entire Family

With many of us working from home, there have been many opportunities to reconnect with our families over meals.

Recognizing that, WaBa Grill has added a new family feast option that will feed up to four people for $24.

The Family Feast includes a choice of protein (Chicken, Steak, WaBa (Chicken + Steak), or Tofu), vegetables, white or brown rice, 10 pieces of dumplings, and four bottled beverages of choice.

For a price point of $24, I’d say that’s a pretty solid dinner option for a hungry family.

The chain is also offering a “Healthier For You” menu with 10 items that cost $5 or less that customers can choose from. This includes mini chicken and tofu bowls, soups, dumplings, and salads.

Categories
Restaurants Sweets

IHOP Adds Sweet & Spicy Syrup: The First New Flavor In 30 Years

As long as I’ve been dining at IHOP, I’ve only seen a select handful flavors of syrup available for patrons to drench their pancakes in: Strawberry, Blueberry, Butter Pecan, and Original. Sometimes there’s also sugar-free, but we don’t talk about that.

For the first time in 30 years, IHOP has added a new flavor of syrup for patrons to enjoy.

Maple Sweet & Spicy Syrup is the newest offering from the chain, created to compliment IHOP’s new Kickin’ Maple Chicken BreakFEAST. It derives its heat from ancho, jalapeno and red chili pepper flakes.

The new entree features Buttermilk crispy chicken breast, drizzled with the new syrup. It also includes four strips of hickory-smoked bacon, two eggs, crispy hash browns, toast, and two buttermilk pancakes.

The new syrup will be available upon request at participating IHOP locations nationwide. As someone who definitely loves a little heat in his breakfast, this is a definitely must try for me.