Haandi is a new Indian Restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga, but without a doubt the best Indian cuisine in Southern California. Chef Ramesh is no newcomer to Indian Cuisine. He's straight from Beverly Hills where he worked for 15 years as the head Chef in an Indian Restaurant.
Haandi is owned by two brothers, Hartig (Harry) and Sartaj Singh.
Harry is the manager of Haandi and believe it or not Sartaj his brother, the manager of Antonino's Italian Restaurant also in Rancho Cucamonga, which has been established and very popular for quite some time now.
The two brothers are dedicated to pleasing their clientele, which is quite obvious by the outstanding service they give. The second you walk into the restaurant, you feel at home. I felt as though I was visiting a good friend.
Singh joined my associates and me for dinner, which gave us the opportunity to get a much better understanding of Indian Culture and Food.
While dining Mr. Keith Hunt, a customer stopped by our table and said to Singh, "I've been to India and several Indian Restaurants and this is the best Indian food I've ever had."
The interior is very appealing to the eye. There are 2 dining rooms with framed Indian Pictures. A large painting of the Taj Mahal is facing the front door and hung on soft muted gold colored walls. The etched glass dividers separate each booth, giving you just enough privacy. The dark wood throughout gives a very nice outline to the interior.
Now for the food, my associates and I started with Pappadam (crispy bread), which was served with three different types of chutney; mint, tomato, and tamarind. It was difficult to decide which was my favorite.
Haandi has a large selection of beer, both Indian and American wines and liquor. However, I enjoyed the merlot with my meal, which gave a wonderful taste with the cuisine.
It's a well-kept secret that Indian food is not necessarily hot and spicy. The food consists of many flavors, spices and tastes. If you request it, the food can be made spicy to your liking.
Since reviewing the restaurant I took a survey of about 25 people and asked their opinion on Indian food. Much to my surprise the largest majority interviewed made the same comment: "Indian food is much too spicy and they use curry in everything. Well, not so, and if you feel the same I ask you to try Haandi because you will be pleasantly surprised.
The next item was Fish Pakora, which is deep fried fish and ever so tender and flaky, but best of all, not oily or greasy. It's also true of the Onion Bhaji and really hard to believe that these two items were fried. When asking Chef Ramesh how could that be possible? He stated "The temperature of the oil was the secret; it must be just right.
Chicken Tika is a very moist and tender chicken, which has been marinated, in an exceptional choice of spices and herbs. Try this I think you will like it.
The menu consists of a wide selection of appetizers, entrees, and beverages.
There is something on the menu for everyone; seafood, lamb, chicken and vegetables. Yes, that's right; there is also quite a variety for vegetarians.
My favorite was the Shrimp Masala. Plump, moist, tender shrimp cooked to perfection in an amazing creamy sauce that melts in your mouth.
John, my photographer and I were invited into the kitchen to see the Tandoor (clay oven), which makes this restaurant different from others. The Tandoor is a clay oven that has a temperature of 400 to 1000 degrees. We watched Chef Ramesh make Nan (bread), which is made and served fresh for each customer. The dough is pressed by hand, seasoned and then thrown against the wall of the clay oven and ready to eat in seconds.
Another item I recommend is the Shah's Platter, which is truly fit for a king.
It will give you a nice variety of tastes especially if you're a newcomer to Indian Cuisine. It's a combination of Tandori Chicken, Chicken Tiki and Lamb Chops.
They offer a Buffet, which is served daily for lunch at $7.95 per person, and a Champagne Brunch on Saturday and Sunday for $10.95. Their regular menu is also quite reasonable.
We completed this amazing meal with dessert. We tried the Dessert Sampler; which consists of an assortment of sweets. Gulab Jamun is a Milk Cheese Ball; don't be fooled by the name because it is truly scrumptious. Kula is homemade creamy pistachio ice cream, yes, homemade.
Chai tea was the perfect end to a truly wonderful meal. You can eat in or take out. They also have catering services for that special party.
Haandi gets 5 stars from me not only for the best Indian Food in Southern California but also for the service and ambiance. Don't miss out on a wonderful experience of Indian food and Culture. It is well worth the visit.
Haandi Indian Restaurant is located at
7890 Haven Avenue Suite. 15 & 16
Open 7 days
Lunch 11:00am - 3:00pm
Dinner 5:00pm- 10:00pm
Paula Puma is Food Critic at "For You Magazine" and can be reached at Fyu3[.]juno.com