The cuisine of southern India has about as much in common with the spinach cream sauce served in the established Indian cuisine of Munich as a pasta of liver with fish roll. Saravanaa Bhavan is coming to Munich, so reverently breathed the Indian community. Saravanaa Bhavan is a code for those who know, a salvation for expatriates from Mumbai or Mysore, a promise to those who have fallen in love with the street food and restaurants of Karnataka or Kerala while traveling and had a vague longing for the stomach they have since walked along the Isar.
Saravanaa Bhavan is a vegetarian restaurant chain in South India, founded in Chennai in the early 1980s, today with more than 100 branches worldwide. It is addressed mainly to expatriates from southern India who miss the cuisine of their homeland. The local gastronomic offer of Indian cuisine has expanded in recent years with places like Madame Chutney or Deli Tadka. And yet there is a gap, it is about the form of a Saravanaa Bhavan. In the early days of January, there was a queue in front of the restaurant, as if Wiesn had reopened. It may take some time before a seat becomes available at the former Café Freiheit. Reservation is not possible.
The walls are painted orange, the furniture is simple and straightforward, the table has perforated metal cutlery cases, known from a Swedish furniture store. “Babychair” says the service about Juniper Junior, there is no problem here, Junior tries the restaurant for family friendliness, has fun in between and gets a full score. The service sometimes speaks English, sometimes German, and the majority of guests seem to be expatriates who enjoy the local cuisine. As a result, the atmosphere comes closer to a bar in Mumbai than to many classic Munich-Inders furnished with heavy velvet and scented candles. The dishes are served authentically in tin dishes with omissions for dip chutneys and curries.
On the menu you will find wines by the glass, also from the pioneers of Indian wine, the Grover winery, a really full, spicy Zinfandel. There is also Kingfisher Indian beer. In fact, Saravanaa Bhavan is not the place where the guest sits comfortably for a drink and loses himself in love in front of his eyes. The drink of choice here, seen on the tables around, is Lassi (it also helps against chili overdose).
If you are not so familiar with South Indian cuisine, the menu can easily overwhelm you. Dosa variants alone take up three pages. Dosas is a classic South Indian, a pancake made from partially fermented rice and legume batter, thin and almost crispy at the edges, stuffed in a variety of ways and served with chutney for dipping. Good doses are hard to find in Munich, so there are some on plates around. The dough is perfect, the filling – we chose masala (8.90 euros) – and the chutneys are good. The food on our first visit is good to very good, some of them ok, Paneer Byriani (12.90), a rice dish with usually lots of spices and ingredients like coconut flakes, vegetables and raisins, a little mild, mostly spicy at Flavor , a lost pea crawling through the rice in search of its own kind. Junior enjoyed Curd Vada (5.20), two lentil donuts in yogurt, but not boring for adults?
Despite being “only” okay with very good dishes, the visit was a refreshing overall experience. The noise level of many large groups and families happily celebrating the art of South Indian cuisine, the food always landing on the chuck table. The next visit finally brought clarity: perhaps the kitchen was sparsely staffed on the first visit. Anyway, everything was a little better, more exciting, better seasoned. The tick that makes the advertising campaign understandable. Chutneys for pancakes and bread dishes, so to speak, were a more sophisticated touch. The smell radiating from the palate back to the ragged breakfast table on the river in Hampi. Channa Batura (9.90), chickpea curry with a kind of crispy but fluffy fried bread, mmmh. With the right dose of chili and chili, curd vada is now interesting for adults as well. The Saravanaa Special Meal (17), a thalli for a person with rice, various types of bread and pappadam is highly recommended. Small curries and sauces from thin to creamy, a fruity lentil curry and an earthy potato curry, spicy masala, pleasantly slimy okra, something very, very sour in pickles, cool yogurt, raita, and there is also a small dessert, an Indian dessert . A firework of flavors at its best. Fortunately the map is so huge. So we will not get bored in the next detours.
Saravana BavanLandshuter Allee 55, 80637 Munich, daily 11 a.m. – 10 pm, phone: 089 – 62099925, saravanaabhavan-munich.de