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Red Hot Chilli Pepper (Evanston Indo-Chinese)

Red Hot Chilli Pepper (Evanston Indo-Chinese)
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  • Red Hot Chilli Pepper (Evanston Indo-Chinese)

    Post #1 - April 17th, 2018, 1:49 am
    Post #1 - April 17th, 2018, 1:49 am Post #1 - April 17th, 2018, 1:49 am
    Sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner. When my gf is out of town and I'm forced to fend for myself, I take it as an opportunity to try places she probably wouldn't like. Generally, that means spicy: Immm Thai came close to breaking the girl. Over the past few months, I've made several visits to Red Hot Chilli Pepper, the (relatively) new Indo-Chinese restaurant from the owner of the nearby Mt. Everest.

    It's a bit surprising to me, considering how much I love Indian and Chinese food, that I'm not as big a fan of Indo-Chinese. It's its own thing, though: there's a lot of cornstarch (at least in my limited experience, and also borne out here). The good news is that, perhaps to thwart psychic spies from China, Indians add lots of chilis, garlic, etc. I like pleasure spiked with pain and this place will deliver legitimate heat, if you ask. (If you're a true masochist, they even do that circa 2010 gimmick where you have to sign a waiver before trying some super-hot "ghost pepper" or some such dish. I mean, whatever, you do a little dance and then you drink a little water. Big whoop.)

    Anyway, I think the way to go here is to try to avoid too many saucy dishes and make sure you balance them out with some dry ones. Dry gobi Manchurian is good here (if you know any Indo-Chinese dish, you probably know that one), as is dry chilli chicken (both far preferable to the sauced versions, to me). The Hakka noodles have been highly recommended, although I've yet to try them. The "Hot garlic New Zealand lamb" was a big miss: too much (boring) sauce and the meat itself was not very good. I had just a piece of leg to bite on and moved on to other stuff.

    Prices are pretty high (it's Evanston), especially considering you're going to have to add $3 for rice. The lunch specials are more reasonable and pretty filling: you get a plate containing the entree, spring roll, fried rice, and a bit of cabbage in chili oil (although I prefer to separate my sides).

    Anyway, I've been remiss in not posting about this place. While I've yet to find a dish I truly crave, there are good (and relatively unusual) ones to be had here. Where I go I just don't know, but I'll try to explore more new places. Gonna keep on trying till I reach the highest ground.
  • Post #2 - April 17th, 2018, 1:40 pm
    Post #2 - April 17th, 2018, 1:40 pm Post #2 - April 17th, 2018, 1:40 pm
    Anyone interested in trying it is welcome to join the Evanston Lunch Group™ there this Friday; click here for details.

    Restaurant info:
    Red Hot Chilli Pepper
    500 Davis St (at Hinman)
    Evanston, IL 60201
    (847) 563-8085
  • Post #3 - April 20th, 2018, 3:27 pm
    Post #3 - April 20th, 2018, 3:27 pm Post #3 - April 20th, 2018, 3:27 pm
    nsxtasy wrote:Anyone interested in trying it is welcome to join the Evanston Lunch Group™ there this Friday; click here for details.

    Photos from today's lunch!

    The room:
    Image
    All but one of our items were from the lunch menu, which means they included "Soup, Spring Roll and a choice of Steam, Brown or Fried Rice".

    CORIANDER SOUP (CLEAR)
    Image
    CORIANDER SOUP (THICK) (no photo, sorry)

    HOT & SOUR SOUP
    Image
    SPRING ROLLS
    Image
    SPICY SLAW (complimentary)
    Image
    FIRECRACKER SHRIMP - Shrimp, Szechwan pepper, dried chilli, sesame seeds
    Image
    T’SING HOI POTATOES - Crispy potatoes, house spicy sauce, cashews
    Image
    HOT GARLIC NEW ZEALAND LAMB - Sliced lamb, onions, green peppers, garlic
    Image
    CHILLI CHICKEN - Lightly battered chicken, onions, green bell peppers and green Thai bird chilli
    Image
    BRAISED MUTTON - Goat meat, house mushrooms
    Image
    SZECHWAN PEPPER CRAB - Blue soft-shell crab, onions, ginger, garlic, Szechwan sauce
    Image
    PAN FRIED NOODLES - Thin noodles pan-fried topped with meat or vegetables
    Image
  • Post #4 - April 20th, 2018, 3:46 pm
    Post #4 - April 20th, 2018, 3:46 pm Post #4 - April 20th, 2018, 3:46 pm
    Many of the dishes had a similar flavor profile, but I particularly liked the goat (mutton), which had a strong flavor of anise. I would return for that dish, and also for the surprising hot Firecracker Shrimp. I'm not sure if they had a fish version on the longer dinner menu.

    The hot potatoes were enjoyable as well. And I liked the marsala soda (although I think that I was a minority of one), but if you think you might like a soda flavored with garam marsala, try it.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #5 - April 20th, 2018, 4:47 pm
    Post #5 - April 20th, 2018, 4:47 pm Post #5 - April 20th, 2018, 4:47 pm
    GAF wrote: And I liked the marsala soda (although I think that I was a minority of one), but if you think you might like a soda flavored with garam marsala, try it.

    Nope nope nope nope. I bought one from a local Indo-Pak grocer, took a couple swallows, and could not finish it. If it were less sweet, sort of an Indian bloody mary mix, it might have been tolerable, but it was more like a jar of tamarind chutney mixed with soda water, then some more cumin stirred in.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - April 20th, 2018, 5:26 pm
    Post #6 - April 20th, 2018, 5:26 pm Post #6 - April 20th, 2018, 5:26 pm
    JoelF wrote:
    GAF wrote: And I liked the marsala soda (although I think that I was a minority of one), but if you think you might like a soda flavored with garam marsala, try it.

    Nope nope nope nope. I bought one from a local Indo-Pak grocer, took a couple swallows, and could not finish it. If it were less sweet, sort of an Indian bloody mary mix, it might have been tolerable, but it was more like a jar of tamarind chutney mixed with soda water, then some more cumin stirred in.


    Making your own with tonic water, a shake of the best garam masala you have, lemon and lime juices is really refreshing. Jal jeera (jal jira) is like Indian switchel punch, only with fried chickpea treats on top instead of crushed ice. The commercial kind I've had is Jayanti Jaljeera (is that what this place has?) which is too sweet but not bad, with enough lemon-lime in the mix. Galco, which still has an excellent Georgian tarragon soda, used to have a dry cumin soda that was great.
  • Post #7 - April 20th, 2018, 6:56 pm
    Post #7 - April 20th, 2018, 6:56 pm Post #7 - April 20th, 2018, 6:56 pm
    I'll probably never get to this place, but if I'm ever within striking distance, I will HAVE to go, if only to reply to this thread with some more Keidis quotes (well done, cilantro.) For as many hits as they had on the airwaves, their B-sides (as we used to call em back in 1920) were WAAAAAAY better, imo.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #8 - April 20th, 2018, 11:18 pm
    Post #8 - April 20th, 2018, 11:18 pm Post #8 - April 20th, 2018, 11:18 pm
    JoelF wrote:
    GAF wrote: And I liked the marsala soda (although I think that I was a minority of one), but if you think you might like a soda flavored with garam marsala, try it.

    Nope nope nope nope. I bought one from a local Indo-Pak grocer, took a couple swallows, and could not finish it. If it were less sweet, sort of an Indian bloody mary mix, it might have been tolerable, but it was more like a jar of tamarind chutney mixed with soda water, then some more cumin stirred in.


    This was definitely not a heavily sweetened drink. It had a spicy kick to it, but nothing like chutney.
    Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn't really about the quality of the bread or how it's sliced or even the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It's all about the butter. -- Adam Gopnik
  • Post #9 - April 21st, 2018, 9:09 am
    Post #9 - April 21st, 2018, 9:09 am Post #9 - April 21st, 2018, 9:09 am
    The Firecracker Shrimp was my personal favorite of all the dishes. It was similar in preparation to the "dry chili chicken" served at local Szechwan restaurants - shrimp lightly breaded and fried with a lot of dried red peppers (although in their version, they removed the peppers before serving). The shrimp were tender and tasty. The heat level was rather extreme; I'd put it at about 9 on a scale of 1 to 10. It was far hotter than the other dishes. It was the one dish I'd go back for, although next time I would ask them to tone down the heat a bit. I like heat, but not THAT much heat. And in all fairness, this was the one dish for which they asked if we like hot/spicy and we said yes.

    The lamb, chicken, crab, and potato dishes all had similar (if not identical) sauces. Heat level was moderate, maybe a 4. They were okay; the potato dish was the best of these. The mutton (goat) was the one dish I did not like at all. The noodle dish and the rice dishes were all extremely bland, even tasteless. The lime soda tasted like a bit of fresh lime juice squeezed into club soda. I also did not care for the masala soda.

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