Restaurant of the Week: Red Chilli House

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Red Chilli House, 9795 Base Line Road (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga

The Inland Valley has a lot of Chinese restaurants but only a handful that serve what might be called modern, authentic Chinese cuisine, a la the San Gabriel Valley. The short list is made up of Peking Deli and Good Time Cafe, both in Chino Hills, Foothill Bistro in Rancho Cucamonga and a recent addition, Red Chilli House, also in Rancho Cucamonga.

Red Chilli opened in June 2011 near the 99 Ranch Market. Other than kung pao shrimp and chicken in spicy garlic sauce, everything on the menu was unfamiliar. There’s no chow mein or orange chicken or cream cheese wontons. They don’t bring a basket of chow mein noodles to your table with a plate of ketchup and spicy mustard. Instead they have dishes like boiled pork intestines in chili sauce and stir-fried kidney with pickled chili. Yum!

Just kidding. Well, for all I know, those are delish. But don’t be put off: They also have many non-frightening dishes. (The menu has 112 items.)

A friend well-versed in Chinese cuisine ordered for us: a plate of cold appetizers (seaweed, cucumber, beef with Szechuan peppercorns; price forgotten; pictured above right), something called crispy rice crust dishes with pork ($10, middle right) and Dan Dan noodles ($6, below right).

The noodles came in a bowl with a peanut-sesame sauce. The pork dish had vegetables and crispy rice. I liked both, as well as the appetizer, although the edge goes to the noodles.

Service was low-key but helpful; they refilled our water glasses regularly and answered questions. The dining room was pleasant if utilitarian. There’s a boba shop a few doors down and an Asian market in the same center.

I meant to write this visit up weeks ago but delayed; I was considering writing a tie-in column about the place, or the whole shopping center, but that fell by the wayside. So, at last, here’s the Restaurant of the Week version. For what it’s worth, people on Yelp like the place.

If you want sweet and sour something, don’t go here. As my friend said mockingly: “Chinese food is supposed to be slivers of white meat deep-fried in a sugary glaze!” If you want something that’s not that, try Red Chilli House.

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  • andy

    I’ve only eaten here once but I really like the food. The name in Chinese (Chuan Xiang Yuan) implies food from Sichuan (Chuan) and Hunan (Xiang). These regions (provinces) in southwest China are known for their humid weather, spicy food, cured meats, tangy condiments. Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing any fried noodle or rice dish at any Sichuan style restaurant. The food here is pretty good but my complaint is their expansive menu is a bit too much to take in.

    [Good info, Andy, thanks. -- DA]

  • Andy

    David, your dish in the middle is possibly some type of “Guo ba” where crispy deep fried rice is mixed with some type of gravy sauce creating a sizzling when mixed. You usually eat this with rice. This is possibly the genesis of Americanized sizzling rice soup.

    [We did order rice on the side for that very purpose. -- DA]

  • Andy

    One more note…. only a handful of restaurants in the IE serve authentic Chinese food. Only a handful of authentic restaurants in ALL of Southern California serve modern Chinese food, by saying modern, I mean of current culinary trend and generating innovation.

    Chinese food in LA is quite a bit behind the times of culinary centers of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, China. Problem especially with Cantonese cuisine is that many of the chefs / owners left Hong Kong, China, wherever, a decade if not decades ago and have failed to keep up with culinary and restaurant trends. Chinese diners have become complacent with the low quality of food and lack of innovation and continue to patronize out of date and substandard restaurants.