Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Saravana Bhavan

On Monday night we went to Saravana Bhavan, which is located at 100 Lexington Ave between 27th and 28th street in Manhattan. The cuisine is vegetarian Southern Indian, serving various dosas and utappams, but with a separate menu of curries for those who prefer Northern Indian cuisine. We ordered an appetizer and two entrées and shared everything, plus we had some of our friend Eppy’s appetizer and entrée.

Medu Vada are deep fried lentil flour donuts, in this case with cilantro cooked in for some extra flavor. They were served with the usual sambar and coconut chutney, along with some tomato chutney. I liked how light these were. They tasted just like idli but with a perfect golden crust. The sambar was great- comforting and starchy, not too oily or spicy. The only disappointment was that there was a lot of squash in it that I kept mistaking for potatoes. It was good squash, mind you, but I love my potatoes. - Ev

Eppy ordered the Bhel Puri, and it was the most unique thing I ate at Saravana Bhavan. I’ve never had anything quite like this, and I'll definitely try it again if I come back. It’s basically a bowl of fried noodles and puffed rice with onion and tomato, all mixed in a sweet and sour sauce. I really liked the texture. The noodles were crunchy and the tomato and onion were fresh. The flavor was complex and a little spicy. – Jim
The texture reminded me of Thai Mee Grob. I also liked the way it started out sweet but then suddenly it was like you raided your spice cabinet and licked every Indian spice you had in there (including the fiery ones). - Ev


We ordered a Peas and Onion Utappam and our friend Eppy ordered a Dosa Podi Onion Utappam, which is basically an onion Utappam sprinkled with chili powder. Like the Mada Vedu, these were served with sambar and chutneys. There wasn’t much flavor to the utappams themselves, so I found they were best when I spooned the sambar and chutneys on top and ate it with a fork, as opposed to the traditional rip-and-dip method. They were good but not extraordinary. - Jim
I liked ours well enough until I tasted Eppy's. The salty/savory quality of the chili powder made this ten times better than the peas & onion one. – Ev

Onion Rava Masala Dosa
Very light & moist. The potatoes were amazing because they had a creamy mashed potato flavor but they were still chunky. The tomato chutney seemed spicier than in earlier dishes. I thought this dish was best with everything piled on top of it. - Ev
I loves me some Dosas, and this dish didn’t let me down. It wasn’t the best Dosa I’ve ever had, but it was pretty darn good. - Jim

The Bottom Line
Overall, I wouldn't say this was a mind-blowing experience but these were good standbys that were tasty, comforting, & not too heavy. - Ev
I feel the same way: not amazing but definitely good. If I went back I’d probably order another Dosa, as the Utappams were a little bland for my taste. By the way, one cool thing about this restaurant is that the menu indicates which items have dairy with an asterisk. - Jim


Anonymous jware30 said...

Excellent review guys, and awesome photos. Did you take them yourselves?

11:39 AM, May 26, 2006

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Thanks! And yes, we take all the photos ourselves. -Jim

11:56 AM, May 26, 2006

Anonymous Ijustdiedinside said...

reading about this southern indian cuisines made me realize that i've never had southern indian cuisine! i kind of doubt it exists in san diego. now i'm even more excited about visiting new york. and i'm also really hungry.

2:44 PM, June 04, 2006

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Southern Indian food is amazing and it might even be our favorite cuisine.
Our current favorite Southern Indian restaurant in NYC is actually just a block away from Saravana Bhavan with a very similar name: "Saravanaas". Maybe when you come to NYC we can all go together!

5:54 PM, June 05, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

South indian food rocks! and for all you New yorkers, Try the rava onion masala dosa at Saravana's at 28th and Lexington,to get a realstic bite of authentic madras sapad!

Balaji Sreenivasan

12:53 AM, August 05, 2006

Blogger veganfriendly said...

Good recommendation, Balaji! The onion rava masala dosa is our favorite! YUM!

5:26 PM, August 12, 2006

Blogger carmegalodon said...

Great job!

I love you guys. It's nice to hear that there is lots and lots of healthy vegan food out there.

I'd love to see more cakes,pies,chocolate and yummy sweet treats!

4:14 PM, October 19, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good, but stomach upsetting food, and nasty service. Very bad waiters and even the manager is very arrogant. We are an old Indian couple went to eat there thrice so far. All three times the waiters have been insulting (because we are north Indian), rude and one waiter even yelled at us because we asked for sambar the second time.

5:55 PM, December 26, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This place sucks, the manager is very arrogant and the most of the waiters did not understand English. You guys should try Saravanaas @ 81 Lexington Avenue (26th Street); (212) 679-0204. they are much better.

1:07 PM, March 23, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

when i went to sravana bhavan,it was are some reasons why?first service was toally bad.and the waiters have no right to go to other table,they have to stick to one.they are going to other tables to collect other waiters tips.and they dont give us water untill we ask and they come after 10 mins to ask what we need.horrible connaught place it was so good service and here is garbage.we look like we wasted money and time to eat in a restaurant which we dont get respect.only taste is good.but service horrible horrrible.

8:32 AM, May 15, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess each one is entitiled to their opinion but personally I consider the food the most amazing. I come from a south Asian country and have eaten south Indian food from several countries and what I ate at Saravana Bhavan is the best I've had. The food was excellent and I mean to tell this to everyone I know. Second as some commented regarding the waiters, they were friendly and very quick and efficient. so if you do have any negative comments it might be your own behaviour thats prompting it. Anyone who loves south Asian food should try it

10:55 AM, May 16, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry regarding the above commment at 10.55 it was supposed to be Saravanaas

11:23 AM, May 16, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do accept with some of you guys,that the service is horrible,and most of the waiters look like their are fresh out of boat (fob's),but the thing is when I went with my friend on the new years day 2006,first of all we were tired of all the walking we did to find this restaurant,when we entered the restaurant ,a guy came and told us to sit on the table next to the entrance,he didn't even ask for a choice,but we anyways told that we wanted to sit inside,and which we did. And after that we were made to change tables twice as their were getting reservations,(but isn't it stupid to ask the seated people to move,that too twice) and finally we ended up sitting on a table really small with horrible chairs, my chair was broken and like about to crash.they didn't bother about that,and even when I asked for another chair they said something and left,nothing happened I had to go and get a chair.No body showed up no apologies after the guy came after 15 mins.We wanted to leave,but we didn't have any patience to look for another restaturant.finally we ordered a Bangalore tali or something which had a ootappam,small dosa,vada,idli and milk ball desert,it was ok and when I asked for ginger dip,no response ,we had to eat what we had and we left with no tip. the food was ok but service makes your experience horrible.

2:03 AM, November 18, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one at 81 Lexington is a branch of the famous chain out of Chennai. I agree, the one at 100 Lexington sucks. Not very clean; arrogant unprofessional people. The service at 81 Lexington is not great either, but in line with what you'd expect at a downmarket / fastfood restaurant.

4:45 PM, January 26, 2008


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