Saravanaa Bhavan Scarborough
Sarvanaa Bhavan is open for takeout and delivery. A maximum of three people are allowed. Masks are mandatory and hand sanitizer is at the entrance.
Saravanaa Bhavan is a South Indian restaurant famous for their dosa, as well as other Indian specialties like veggie thali and chutneys.
The vegetarian chain restaurant with international outposts has been in Scarborough for nearly 20 years. The long-running spot at Woodside Square usually offers a lunch buffet next to an open-concept kitchen where you can catch a peek at massive dosa as they're being made.
A dining room full of large tables and booths accommodates families looking to share a meal and partake in some of the most savoury South Indian crepes the city has to offer.
The dosa comes in nearly 30 varieties in personal proportions that are the length of my arm, or three times longer for the family dosa.
The rice batter is rolled by long-time cooks from the original restaurant location in India who have several decades of experience making the delicate crepes. They do so carefully to achieve just the right thickness. Then it takes at least two people to roll it.
Everything is made fresh in the kitchen each morning. About 500 coconuts from the market are ground each day for the three chutneys that come with all the dosa: coriander, coconut and tomato.
The ghee paper dosa ($10.99) comes with the three fresh and flavourful chutneys and spicy sambar on the side and a dollop of clarified butter that gives the crispy, paper-thin crepe a bit of a nutty taste.
You can also get it with a potato masala inside ($11.49) made with their freshly ground masala mixture that's been around since the restaurant opened 40 years ago in the state of Tamil Nadu.
The long lineup of different types of dosa on the menu means there is one for everyone's taste. For the cheese lovers, the dosa filled with a three cheese blend of mild cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey Jack ($10.75) will likely catch the eye.
There's even a chocolate-filled one ($10.25) that you could have for dessert.
The mini tiffin ($10.99), which includes a little bit of everything, is what the restaruant recommends for newcomers. Mini steamed rice and lentil patties soaked in sambar, rava kichadi, rava kesari and the trio of chutneys and sambar come on this platter that's typically served for breakfast.
The savoury rice cakes, idly ($6.99), are also served slightly larger with chutneys, sambar and idly podi, an Indian spice mix also known as gunpowder.
One of the thali combos is a good idea if you're looking to try a large selection of what the menu has to offer.
We go for the platter ($12.75) with deep-fried poori or chapati and a whole array of sweet and savoury side dishes from channa masala and veg kootu to porial and kulambu.
The poori is rolled fresh per order and fried until the whole wheat bread puffs up into a large round doughy ball.
It features also on the side of a chickpeas stew for the channa batura ($9.99).
A small cup of South Indian filter coffee makes for a nice finish to one of the platters. The milky and extremely frothy drink is made with finely ground coffee powder in a traditional Indian filter.
Saravanaa Bhavan has gained a global reputation for its South Indian dishes and many types of dosa that are best enjoyed fresh off the grill.