Restaurant of the Week: Haandi

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Haandi, 7890 Haven Ave. (at Town Center), Rancho Cucamonga

India is a mild curiosity of mine, and Indian food likewise, but I’m barely conversant with its basics. Most of my dining is done at lunchtime, and most of our Indian places do nothing but buffet at lunchtime. I don’t like buffets much.

Recently, however, I thought to try dinner at Haandi, which is in the Deer Creek Center on Haven north of Foothill. The interior is plush, with lacquered tables and booths divided by etched glass. Indian art is on the walls and Indian music videos play on a flat screen TV.

The restaurant’s backstory is intriguing; owner Sartaj Singh is from India but studied cooking in Italy, and so he owns an Italian restaurant (Antonino’s) and an Indian restaurant (Haandi), both in Rancho Cucamonga. You can read about him on the RC Now blog here. The Haandi location began as a second Singh-owned Italian restaurant (Primavera) and still looks vaguely Italian.

But what of the food?

Chicken tikka masala ($12.99), chunks of tandoori chicken in curry sauce, and shahi paneer ($10.99), cheese in tomato sauce with ginger, were both delicious. And colorful: one dish yellow, the other red. The papadum (free), a crispy flatbread, came with green and red condiments. So most of the color wheel was represented at the table.

The papadum is an acquired taste, but the naan ($2.25), a pita-like bread served hot, was more to my liking. Many other menu items sound enticing, including lamb and seafood dishes, and there’s plenty here for vegetarians.

I returned Wednesday for lunch and to take a photo of the sign. Of course the buffet is a given; it’s what everyone does, so you don’t even get a menu.

Well, the buffet ($9.99) isn’t bad: salad, saag, bhindi masala, chicken tikka masala, vegetable samosas and tandoori chicken, among other items, plus kheer, a rice pudding, for dessert.

But I’m looking forward to my next dinner at Haandi.

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  • http://mygardenismyhappyplace.blogspot.com Cynthia

    Hooray! I’ve been reading your restaurant reviews for awhile and wondering when you’d finally try this place out.

    My family has been going there twice a week for lunch for almost 3 years now. Even when we briefly moved to the San Fernando Valley we made occasional treks back to RC just to eat there. Even our 4 year old and 2 year old love their food. (No, we’re not indian.) We’re just that addicted.

    Dinnertime is great because you can ask for the food extra spicy if you love that sort of thing, but the lunch buffet is quite flavorful but not hot at all, and to us a great deal to try a lot of different dishes. The dishes rotate thruout the week. Haandi was also recently featured in AAA magazine, not bad for a little local place next to a bowling alley! Oh, don’t forget to try the murgh makhan (butter chicken), it’s quite good.

  • http://diversitown.blogspot.com meg

    Thanks for trying it out and reporting back! We’ve been meaning to go, but since we live in P-Town, Haandi is not so handy.

  • MMmm Good

    So glad you finally visited this place!!!! I love, love, love the buffet :) The staff is very friendly, they keep your iced tea refilled and seem to check on you just at the right times, and their food is delicious!!! (I’m not Indian either, my parents immigrated from Mexico.)

    Have you tried the Afghani place on Carnelian and Baseline next to Smart & Final? It’s also pretty special :)

    [I'll have to try that sometime. -- DA]

  • Bob Terry

    These are the types of restaurants that we need to visit in this economy…the owner/operators. Sartaj’s brother Hartaj (Harry) runs this place and is so humble and friendly. I have no agenda against chain restaurants, but Haandi & Antonino’s are exceptional.

  • Cristina

    This is my favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner! If I could, I would eat here everyday. I have NOTHING bad to say about this restaurant. Everything about it is amazing, staff, food, drink selection, interior, cleanliness and comfort. I wish more people knew about Haandi. Even those people that are afraid of ‘Indian food being too spicy’ will enjoy it. Trust me, I’ve taken a few friends there that were ready to hate Indian food. They ended up loving it and want to go back all the time.

    Keep up the good work, Haandi, and hey, maybe I’ll have to drive by and get some pickup for dinner tonight! YUM!!!

  • Andy

    I love this place. Food and service are excellent. I like how you can have almost anything on the menu prepared to your liking as far as spice in concerned. The sauces are amazing! The shrimp and scallop dish with the rice and and sauce is wonderful.

  • Sameera

    This is a little old review but yes it’s true. Also Afghanistan Palace has been closed due to not having enough support from our local clientele. I wish you could also try some new restaurants in the area (Koyla, Curry Express, etc…)

    [I've been meaning to try both those places, so thanks for the nudge, Sameera. -- DA]