As an Asian from Los Angeles, the capital of award-winning Asian food, my first goal when I moved to Santa Barbara was to find a decent Asian restaurant that I could call my home away from home. It’s already my second year and only now have I found a restaurant that satisfies my Asian desires. Located off of Hollister Avenue, Red Pepper Restaurant is pretty much a hole-in-the-wall. It is situated right below a housing complex and at first sight, you would not know whether it was a restaurant or just a very well-lit apartment.
The servers are genuine Chinese women who work together like a family. Upon stepping into the restaurant, there is an immediate feeling of kindness and generosity. The mood is set by Chinese music lingering in the background as the koi fish dance inside their aquarium. Popular menu items in the restaurant are Kung Pao Shrimp and Kung Pao Chicken. The menu also features Curry Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Spicy Basil Beef, Chicken Szechwan, Chicken Chop Suey, Ma Po Tofu and much more.
The best part about each of the menu items is that each plate comes with a surplus of meat. If you are a college student like me, this feels pretty luxurious.
My plate of Kung Pao Chicken came with a hearty amount of chicken and just enough spice to satisfy me. The egg roll on the side with an exquisite sauce homemade at Red Pepper was a great extra to complement my Kung Pao Chicken.
But wait, what about vegetarians? The Red Pepper has a special section in their menu especially for vegans and vegetarians. There is the Home Made Style Tofu and plates with soy meat.
Unless you are looking to have some leftovers for the next day, my best suggestion is to go during lunch hours. A set lunch will provide you with a small salad, warm soup and a dish with rice, dumplings and an egg roll. Dinners only include one big bowl of sticky rice and one big bowl of your desired entrée.
The next time that you find time between classes to grab some Chinese, think Red Pepper located at 282 Orange Ave, and visit this Chinese gem in Goleta.
A version of this article appeared on page 8 of March 6th, 2013′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.