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.