Red Hot Chilli Pepper
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Food is one of the few universal languages and, like language, is in a constant flux of evolution. This evolution is both symptom and symbol of cuisine and its continuous bourgeoning into new techniques, the assimilation of different cultures, and fusion of different flavors. Fortunately, fusion is at the core of one of Folsom’s latest culinary offerings: Red Hot Chilli Pepper, a dining concept created by renowned chefs from the Taj Group of Hotels in India.
While the name may inspire some funky basslines and promiscuous lyrics, the only thing funky here are the prices, which haven’t seemed to evolve from the restaurant’s Bay Area roots. Perhaps they’re in a parallel universe, but that’s all under the bridge. (IYKYK.)
What isn’t funky, however, are the flavors of some of their signature dishes, which showcase an atypical fusion of Indian and Chinese flavors. Boasting a wide selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, our plant-based friends can welcome a new local favorite.
Home to some of the boldest, most recognizable (and unrecognizable!), and amazing food our world has to offer, India is a powerhouse when it comes to cuisine. Pair that with the comforting flavors of Chinese food, and you have a winning combo.
Let’s start with the shikanji. This traditional roadside drink is a staple of India, and the lemon-lime flavors infused with Indian herbs is so unusual, so refreshing, and so flavorful that it’s a must-try. Unlike anything I’ve sipped before, it was a true portal to a different continent, a different spectrum of taste, and a different drinking experience entirely—a huge thumbs-up for authenticity.
For appetizers, we ordered the dry chilli chicken on the manager’s recommendation, chicken lettuce cups, and a small side of hot and sour soup. The dry chilli chicken was spot-on; a flavorful, brightly colored mix of onions, scallions, celery, ginger, garlic, and Thai chilies that honored the Indo-Chinese-style hailing from Calcutta. Yum.
The chicken lettuce cups were slightly underwhelming, but with the added sauces they came with, were a nice, light option. The hot and sour soup was just that—hot and sour.
For our entrées, the manager suggested the Calcutta chicken. This plate truly rose to our expectation, honoring the Indo-Chinese fusion and award-winning flavor behind the name. Rest assured; this will be repeated.
We deviated from the manager’s suggestion of egg-wrapped fried rice, opting for pan-fried noodles with prawns instead—a tasty choice that was even better the next day. Yum times two!
For dessert, we ordered the house special: daarsan a la mode (crispy won-ton noodles tossed with sugar and honey and served with vanilla ice cream). Unique, fun, and delicious, indeed; I would go again and again for this crispy creation.
My recommendation? Follow your server’s suggestions, because the menu is extensive and not all the dishes may be familiar or up to your palate preference or expectations.
Red Hot Chilli Pepper will certainly find a place among the Folsom food scene, and I’ll be back to explore more soon.
Hours: Noon-3 p.m., 5:30-9:15 p.m. (Sunday); Noon-2 p.m., 5:30-9:15 (Monday-Thursday); Noon-2 p.m., 5:30-10:15 p.m. (Friday); Noon-3 p.m., 5:30-10:15 p.m. (Saturday)
TRY THIS: Dry Chilli Chicken, Vegetable Momo Dumplings, Calcutta Chicken, Hot Garlic New Zealand Lamb, Egg Wrapped Fried Rice, Pan Fried Noodles, Daarsan a la Mode
DRINKS: Beer & wine/sake
HEADS-UP: Vegan- and vegetarian-friendly; private dining, party trays, and catering available; kids’ menu; RHCP rewards program (earn one point for every $1 you spend, and receive a $5 discount for every 50 points you redeem); all food is made to order using house-made sauces
by Ryan Martinez | photos by RAY BURGESS
Photos by Ray Burgess ©stylemediagroup.