So for the third time in a month I walked into a new, spacious, spiffily remodeled Chinese restaurant at lunch in the SGV to find no other diners present. Today’s restaurant is Yu Tian Xia Hot Pot in San Gabriel, located in the old Kingswood space, next to Shanghai #1 Seafood Village. As it turns out, Yu Tian Xia deserves to be empty, as a 3 ingredient hot pot set me back $37. To be fair, I was by myself and the $12 pot of broth, which was quite tasty, was sufficient to serve one or two other diners. But the add ons were quite pricey, too. Portions were decent and a couple of items were very interesting. The fish balls actually were a large dish of fish paste, which I cooked into a few large clumps. And the Chungking clear noodle was like jello cubes that disintegrated into the broth. Based on the sweet flavor of the “noodles”, I suspect it was a dessert item not intended to be dropped into the broth. Yu Tian Xia is at 250 W, Valley Bl., #L. And I can’t help wonder if EB-5 plays a part in these places.
what were the other two places?
One was Chang An, which supposedly does OK at night. (Interestingly though, when I went to the predecessor Imperial City for lunch a few years ago, that was also empty. I guess the 3rd floor is a problematic location.) The other empty restaurant was Chongqing Dezhuan Morals Village.
seems to me that the three places you listed are targeting a demographic that spends more time and money on dinner than at lunch. chang an is what it is (pan-chinese fusion geared towards conspicuous consumption?), and as for the other two places, hot pot is not an instinctive choice if i’m going some place on my lunch hour - to me hot pot is something you don’t eat with an eye on the clock. but that’s me.
there are a few places that i expect to be relatively busy for lunch on a weekday in the SGV where i will make it a point to get there before noon rather than risk waiting for seating: delicious food corner, flavor garden, golden deli, luscious dumplings. liang’s (EDIT: whoops, now known as shang jie) has been a lot busier at lunch the last few times i was there as well. but i had lunch at yoma myanmar a few weeks back, and we were the only seated party throughout my meal, though a number of people did come in for take-out. they deserve better business than that IMO.
Not sure what the answer is. ChangAn opened up as dinner service only, then extended their hours to lunch. Likewise for Element, the high end hot pot in Alhambra.
to me, these new places represent a major paradigm shift - what made the SGV the food mecca it is was more about the immigrant base who came here and opened up the mom & pop places and their one trick pony menus and the competition keeping prices relatively low. these newer places seem to be capitalized with serious overseas money and in some cases paying to import culinary talent. completely different business model. i am of course curious to see what happens to these places. i’m still waiting for shi hai to close.
i had lunch at the newly opened laoxi noodle house today, and by the time we finished our meal every table had been seated at least once. but we’re talking a total of 10 tables max (and every other table had an order of #5 BTW)
and a husband/wife/family employee base.
In the same period I’ve visited newly opened Tasty City, Tasty Bao, Na Ma Ma and Jasmine House, and all had robust to nearly full premises at lunch time. So there is a booming lunch business out there and that’s what struck me about the empty places.
tasty city is completely beneath my radar, but IIRC the other three have been open less than 4-6 weeks where folks are still trying out new places. of course, the reality is that all symptoms are overdetermined; a lack of business can attributed to a number of other different factors: location, mismanagement, under-capitalization, bad food, poor service, what have you. but i suspect target demographic applies for the places mentioned initially.
should na ma ma close, i suppose tonyc will write it up in eater as
na mama (ma) na mama (ma) hey-hey, goodbye.
Shanghailander Palace is usually 60-90% full on Sunday evenings even at 530pm.