When I go to Berkeley the restaurant I am drawn to is Vik's Chaat. Sometimes, for better or worse, I just can't go because of the hours they keep. But if they are open, I'm there to either eat or pick up items I can take home to eat later.
Chaat refers to Indian street food. When the sun goes down, the people come out and stroll the streets socializing. All along the streets are vendor carts selling all kinds of street snacks. Before or after a show or movie, people will stop for bites to eat.
Vik's Chaat is definitely a find, but what about Sacramento? Where can one find chaat here? I found out recently when Maneeza and Suzanne took me down to Florin & Stockton to a small place called Samosa Garden.
Samosa Garden is one of those hole-in-the-wall kind of finds in a dreary strip mall. You enter to find a display case filled with Indian sweets (which I wanted to take a picture of but forgot). After that is a buffet table. They do sell lunch/dinner combos of food, but this place is known for the chaat and that's what we had for our lunch. With three of us we ordered five items totaling about $17 and we still had leftovers. I was impressed.
As someone who is not all that knowledgeable about Indian food, I won't get terribly critical about the dishes. I will say that this was good food, but not great food. But there's a time when one has those cravings and if you have a craving one day for chaat, then here is where you can find it locally.
All of our items were vegan, as is typical of a majority of Indian food. I forgot to take a picture of our three samosa, large and filled with chunks of spiced potato. It was served with a cilantro chutney and a sweet chili sauce. They were tasty, but I've had samosa with much flakier pastry.
This is the Pani Puri. You open a hole in the puffs, fill it with the chickpea/potato mixture and sauces and then eat it down. I prefer the pani puri at Vik's Chaat better. The tamarind water just wasn't as nice here.
The Aloo Paratha. Aloo refers to the potato filling. This was my favorite item of the day. It's similar to an Afghani bolani in that it is their flatbread with a filling that you then can add a topping smeared atop. Here you see it with yogurt.
This is the Bhel Puri and is Maneeza's favorite. It has different sort of crispies, onion, spices, and then a tamarind sauce. I liked it because I liked the addition of onions.
We also shared a Masala Dosa. It was also filled with a potato filling and had mint and tomato chutneys with it.
As I think about places I'm drawn to when I'm in certain areas, that would usually be Huong Lan at Stockton & 65th for banh mi sandwiches. But now I've got another place that might pull my attention on occasion - Samosa Garden.