Foodies help restaurants weather pandemic with ‘Eat SGV Week’ 

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By Jose Ivan Cazares

Contributing Writer

ALHAMBRA — Several San Gabriel Valley restaurants are offering special deals this week as part of “Eat SGV Week,” an initiative that ends Dec. 13.

The event was organized by a Facebook group of 32,000 area foodies to help local eateries struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participating restaurants are offering exclusive dishes at special prices to entice people to continue ordering take-out. Food orders must be made a day in advance and scheduled for pickup through the SGV Eats website. The restaurants’ regular menu will still be available through their own sites and other takeout and delivery apps.

The food from participating restaurants ranges from a massive burger with a homemade birria patty from Alhambra’s Grill ‘Em All to a griddle-cake-and-boba combo from Monterey Park’s Mr. Obanyaki and chicken tikka masala and mango lassi from Arcadia’s Nirvana Indian Cuisine.

Co-founders Alan An, Brian Ngoy and Megan Lam struggled to find up-to-date information on whether their favorite restaurants were open when the coronavirus struck and were ordered to close in-person dining. They came up with the SGV Eats Facebook group as a way to facilitate finding and sharing this knowledge.

“This is a passion project,” Ngoy said. “We’re all volunteers and have full-time jobs. But we wanted to help people who want to provide food and have families to feed. One of the ways we knew how to do that was through social media.”

In May, the co-founders organized the Great SGV Take-out Weekend, encouraging people to order from participating restaurants and the restaurants would then donate part of their profit to frontline health care workers at local hospitals. For Eat SGV Week, the group planned to do a combined takeout and outdoor dining event, before spikes in COVID-19 cases prompted another safer-at-home order and the closure of in-person right before Thanksgiving.

The SGV Eats team has learned to roll with the challenges.

“We’ve had to change plans last minute, but all the restaurants and people have been very enthusiastic,” Lam said.

Above all, the SGV Eats community wants to ensure the longevity of such a rich and varied food community. Lam is originally from San Diego and said she appreciates the variety of cuisines found in San Gabriel Valley, “from sea food, pockets of ethnic foods and amazing food trucks.”

Ngoy said one of his favorite foods is “bolo bao,” a sweet bun popular in Hong Kong and translating into pineapple bun for its resemblance to the spiny fruit.

“Bolo baos” are served at cafes throughout the San Gabriel Valley and remind Ngoy of childhood and eating out with his family on the weekends.

“One of the things I remember the most growing up is all the different places there are to eat,” Ngoy said. Now he, An and Lam are helping other SGV foodies create those memories, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Among the restaurants participating in EAT SGV Week are 38° Degrees Ale House & Grill, Crepe Love, Grill’em All and Nabemono Shabu Shabu in Alhambra.

Monterey Park restaurants participating include Beard Papa’s, Coffee Zone, Obanyaki and Tea Ami.

Rosemead participants include Neighbors Tea House, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Ocean Plus Fish Market and

Rose City Pizza.

And in San Gabriel, Black Stallion Coffee Company, Newport Seafood and Nomad Ice Popsare taking part.

Jose Ivan Cazares is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the East Los Angeles area. He can be reached at cazares429@gmail.com.