Vancouver Restaurants – Vegetarian 4

If you are trying to find a central restaurant with an inexpensive, interesting, tasty daily buffet where you fill-up if you are on an extended stay in Vancouver for the Winter Olympic Games, then this is one to consider! And, it’s vegetarian, too, with many vegan choices (unlike most other Vancouver Indian restaurants). Only Chutney Villa, which was reviewed in Part 3, is as extensive.

Saravanaa Bhavan was started in India decades years ago, and the business is still family-owned, even as the chain has grown and spread around the world, to 10 countries, as the first totally vegetarian international restaurant.

There are several in Canada, one on America’s west-coast (in Sunnyvale, near Palo Alto’s “Silicon Valley”) and a few on the East Coast USA. The rest of the chain outside of India is in the United Kingdom, UAR, Oman, Singapore and Malaysia.

The Vancouver branch opened early 2008, and its decor is modern with bright lighting, but it is certainly decently pleasant and the focus is on the food. You can use credit cards, make reservations, get take-away and it’s kid and handicapped friendly.

South Indian cuisine is a combination of subtle and delightful tastes. You never feel that these dishes have been simmering away for an eternity on the back burner. This cuisine is largely non-greasy, roasted and steamed and rice is the staple which forms the basis of almost every meal. Rice is usually served with: Sambar (spicy lentil soup), Rasam (thin watery, spicy soup) and curried vegetables. Both Sambar and Rasam are personal favorites.

Coconut is another important ingredient in all South Indian recipes and the coconut chutney can accompany almost anything.

Some of the most favored dishes include Dosa (giant, rice crispy crepes rolled around a variety of fillings), Idli (steamed rice cakes) and Vada (fried spicy lentil donuts – which are vehicles for sauces). The dosas offer the best value if you are going to order a la carte, and dosas are another personal favorite. The best in Vancouver are made at House of Dosas on Kingsway, but these are certainly decent and plentiful if you do the buffet. And try the lesser-known, thicker utthappam, also made with rice and lentils.

For a la carte items, Saravanaa gives you the refreshing choice of lightening up the curries by ordering steamed rather than fried potatoes/cauliflower/whatever, without skimping on taste. If you come to a buffet first, you’ll learn what you like so you can order a la carte another time, if you desire.

Desserts from Southern India include the Rava Kesari (Roasted Sooji sweetened with sugar, mixed with raisins & nuts and garnished with Ghee) and creamy Payasum (Vermicelli stir-fried with powdered green cardamoms, with raisins in milk). Most Indian desserts are very sweet (but good). You may want to end your meal with a satisfying spiced chai drink, instead, or a mango lassi. The Masala tea is so fresh and different from others.

The buffet is well thought out, and only dishes that “hold well” are on it; there are about 30 of them. Anything in the way of accompaniments which need to fresh to be good, are brought to the table, by servers in saris, as you need them. Service is generally quite good, but the cafe can get busy, and even have an hour’s wait at peak times.

Weekday Buffet is served Monday – Friday 11:30 am to 3 pm.
Buffet Menu: includes Rasam, Idly, Medhu Vada, Sambhar, Poriyal, Kootu, Kolumbhu, Potato Masala, Chana Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, Palak Gobi, Rice, Special Rice, Bisibelebhat, Curd Rice, Raitha, Papad, Coconut Chutney, Tomato Chutney, Lemon Pickle, Payasam, Rava Kesari, Masala/plain Dosa, Poori & Naan
Kids below 8 years: $6.99 $10.99 older children, adults

Weekend / Holiday Buffet: Saturday, Sunday, Holidays 11:30 am – 3 pm.
Buffet Menu: same
Kids below 8 years: $7.99 $11.99 older children, adults

Saravanaa Bhavan: Menu

You can read the other parts of this series at the TVR Vancouver travel article archive link, below.

Saravanaa Bhavan
955 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1K3, Canada
(604) 732-7700
Bus: EB Broadway FS Oak St
Saravanaa Bhavan

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