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Chacha’s Tandoor and Grill

In this post we were continuing with our mini street food tour of Surrey, hosted the city’s tourism board. We were at our second stop, visiting authentic mom and pop shops that they recommend and promote. These are restaurants and cafes we may not know to visit, if not for them being on Discover Surrey’s Spice Trail.

We were at Chacha’s Tandoor and Grill for a full sit down lunch. And lucked out, as during our visit, we were able to meet and chat with the owner, who just happened to be working behind the counter, by coincidence.

Chacha is Hindi for “father’s younger brother”, and the restaurant was named after the owner’s uncle. Here, I got to ask him why he didn’t name his restaurant after his own father? The namesake is a warm tribute to his uncle, who originally passed on his passion for cooking to his nephew. The restaurant started as the family’s dream and has quickly become their project together, with plans to expand to a second location in the new year. Rumour has it that that this will be an indo-Chinese takeout only concept.

The family story goes: his parents moved to Canada 25 years ago. The uncle was passionate about making food, but couldn’t pursue that dream, due to having to build the new immigrant life. After their 5-6th year the family did open a tikka joint, but sadly their new business not viable, so they sold; always keeping in the back of their mind that they wanted to return to the food industry one day.

Since then, Chacha’s opened during Covid, featuring recipes curated by the uncle. At its origins it was a full family affair, with his uncle making an appearance in the kitchen and his cousins stationed behind the counter.

Located in the famous Payal Plaza and Little India Plaza, it is very inviting with a modern and clean decor. Without lining at the counter and placing your order from the broadcasted menu above on the televised screen, you wouldn’t necessary know this was an Indian bistro just walking in.

We started with a couple of drinks seeing as they had their own beers courtesy of a collaboration with Russell Brewing. The Chacha’s Lager and the Blonde Chacha. Both easy drinking beers that paired well as a neutral beverage for their more pungent food. Although at the same time not all that memorable.

Unlike Thumbs Up Cola with its catchy name and eye catching blue and red can. We would later learn this is India’s number one brand of cola, which we found similar in sugary sweetness to Pepsi.

For food we tried an assortment of their dishes, as recommended by Discover Surrey.

One of our go-to orders at any Indian restaurant is Palak Paneer, making it a great way to compare and contrast offerings. Paneer is the equivalent of Indian cheese, that looks like tofu, but with a more spongy chew. And here, it had a pretty neutral taste to best highlight the spinach base. The spinach mix was incredibly smooth and flavourful, earning an immediate positive reaction from myself. I soon after declares it the best I have had to date.

Here, we learned the difference between butter chicken, with their Delhi style Butter Chicken. To be honest, I didn’t find it all that different from the butter chicken I am use to, except it was less sweet with more heated spice. Tasty nonetheless with firm, almost overcooked pieces of chicken bobbing about. However, completely forgivable, considering how tasty the stew was.

This and all the other saucy dishes were best taken with either an order of basmati rice we shared on the side or their Rumali Roti. The latter is a larger than your head sized round of chewy soft dough. An ideal base to smear up pools of sauce from off of your plate.

The Tandoori Fish was a table favourite. Bass fish left to marinade 24 hours in a myriad of spices, then finished on the grill to order. The result was tangy and spicy white fish with a subtle smokey char. Once again, a little on the dry and overcooked side for my tastes, but there was plenty of sauces with everything else to help alleviate some of this.

The Chicken Kalami Kebab are little chicken thigh drumsticks that have been thoughtfully wrapped at their ends, with tinfoil for easy gripping. All the tenderness I wanted in the fish I found here with the similarly charred dark meat smothered in a oozey cream. Plenty of rich garlicky flavour as is, but for a different taste expression, you can also give your chicken a dunk into the accompanying minty cilantro sauce for some citrus brightness.

And as a vegetarian option we tried the Daal Makhani which are lentils in rich tomato, butter and cream sauce. This is slow-cooked overnight for a crumbly grainy texture, like a grittier porridge. It had a great zesty spice to it, but for texture alone, not my cup of tea.

Overall a great meal, and an inviting restaurant that I feel confident to recommend to anyone looking for authentic and modern quality Indian food in Surrey.

Chachas Tandoor and Grill
12855 80 Ave Unit 101, Surrey, BC V3W 4E9
(604) 503-8877

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