Three new local restaurants claimed three of the five Culinary Contest awards at the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Taste of Arcadia Sept. 22 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum:
- Hai Di Lao hot pot restaurant on the Promenade at the Westfield Santa Anita mall won the Best in Show award. It featured meats, noodles and vegetables boiled on the spot, while a worker entertained attendees with his “dancing noodle” act of swinging an elongated uncooked noodle like a cowboy with a rope lariat.
- Most Innovative award went to Rita’s Italian Ice at 733 W. Naomi Blvd., off Baldwin Avenue, which also blends gelato, frozen custard, and snacks with its shave ice.
- Villa Catrina Mexican Restaurant, which opened on Cinco de Mayo this year at 251 N. Santa Anita Avenue at the former location of Domenico’s, was also a new first-time winner for Most Savory Dish. At Taste, Villa Catrina offered flautas, tacquitos, enchiladas, tacos, and desserts to the 1,500 attendees.
A quartet of radio and TV food and wine experts served as judges: radio and TV personality Peter “King of Cuisine” Dills of AM 830 KLAA; Food Network personalities Jyll Everman (“Next Food Network Star”) and Cassandra Pugh (“Guy’s Grocery Games”); and David Flood, local private chef and consultant. Judging was based on three criteria: Appearance, Flavor, and Originality.
The final two winners were:
The Peacock Grille at Embassy Suites Arcadia on Huntington Drive at Second Avenue, which won for Best Presentation. The offerings at Peacock Grille’s booth included bleu cheese and honeycombed grilled sandwiches as well as Chinese chicken salad and cheesecake bites.
- Sweet Nothings Cake Shop, 1849 Huntington Drive in Duarte, which offered a plethora of delicious cupcakes and cookies.