In this series of posts, we were touring Surrey with Discovery Surrey for a mini food tour. The aim was to uncover its authentic South Asian street food scene, as part of the tourism board’s “Spice Trail”. The “Spice Trail” is a self guided tour of sorts, created and laid out by Discovery Surrey, as a way to overcome language barriers and discover what is off the beaten path in their large city.
Our first stop was Apna Chaat Express located in an outdoor plaza. They actually have two locations a few shops apart. We would visit their Express location focused on offering the most authentic golgappa experience in Surrey. “Golgappa” also known as “Panipuri” is a “deep-fried breaded sphere filled with potato, onion, or chickpea. It is a common street food in the Indian subcontinent, often spiced with tamarind chutney or chilli”. (As taken from Wikipedia)
Traditionally, golgappa are served standing by the side of the road, so the standing golgappa service here is reminiscent of that. They even had the traditional truck parked in their shop for show.
There are no reservations, it is first come first serve, and all you can eat at a set price, so expect a wait. Thankfully the service is quick and you can only eat so many of these flavour bombs. You line up along the counter and order them one at at time.
The base of the crispy wafer sphere is pre-stuffed with potato and onion, and with ease the server dips or squeezed 1 of 10 different types of sauces into it. And in under 5 seconds, it is before you on your individual plate, to eat as you go. For each you can choose your flavour adventure. During our visit there were only 6 options: sweet, sweet and spicy, spicy, hing, Szechuan, and guava.
The names pretty much match their description. “Spicy” not being all that fiery. The clerk wasn’t certain herself of what “hing” was. “Szechuan” had a familiar sweet and sour Chinese flavour to it. And “Guava” was tropical, but not much like its namesake fruit. The sauce is what you drink and taste, with the crispy shell and starchy filling acting as a base. Think the sensation of biting down on a Chinese style soup dumpling, but lighter and a lot more refreshing.
Overall, this was a great, one of a kind experience and one I would recommend for those not familiar with this popular street food item. What better way to get acquainted to golgappa then in the most authentic way possible in Surrey.
Apna Chaat Express
7500 120 St #201, Surrey, BC V3W 3N1