Best New Restaurants 2020: Yellow Chilli Serves Faithful Indian Fare in a Nifty Setting

Papaya salad with peanuts. Photograph by Emily J. Davis

You’ve probably never seen an Indian joint that looks like The Yellow Chilli. Modern and stylish with lots of Bollywood sparkle, it’s a Tustin franchise licensed by celeb chef Sanjeev Kapoor, India’s answer to Wolfgang.

Definitely start with Shaam Savera, Kapoor’s most famous creation. Open-face spinach dumplings filled with fresh white paneer (soft cheese) float in a pool of spiced tomato gravy. Chicken tikka (Murgh Angaar Bedgi) is tender from a yogurt bath and reddish with mild chiles. Don’t miss the sprightly papaya salad. Platters laden with appetizers supply a parade of options, and plenty are suited for vegetarian nibbling. Satisfy heat seekers with four-alarm Nizami Tarkari Biryani. Alternate the fiery rice with cooling raita and bites of roti if you hope to finish it. Fall-apart lamb shank Nalli Rogan Josh is soulful and rib-sticking with a complex Kashmir sauce. The room with wraparound patio gets lively with a wildly mixed and happy crowd. No doubt Kapoor knows his way around Indian cuisine (and brand licensing), but how well do his many recipes translate to shopping centers like The District? Quite admirably, I say. On each visit, the affable venue is ever busier.

The Yellow Chilli was Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill.

2463 Park Ave., Tustin, 714-389-5280


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