Restaurants & Bars

San Francisco Bay Area Sunnyvale

Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale

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Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale

Melanie Wong | Aug 13, 2004 12:04 AM

South Indian vegetarian restaurant, Saravana Bhavan, has moved this month from Mountain View to roomier quarters in Sunnyvale with seating for 140. The former Coco’s location is decorated with a sage and rose pink color scheme with white latticework and has a huge parking lot. William and I had dinner there on Tuesday. At 6:15pm, the place was about half full and most of the parties were families with children along with several strollers in the aisles. Our table in the back corner (diagonally across from the entrance) had some open space next to it that was a convenient carpeted playpen for the toddlers at the adjoining table. Little ones gnawing on fried vadas out of hand also enjoyed bouncing up and down on the bench seating that circles the room. While pretty noisy with the sounds of happy children, William noted that there was no “piercing singular scream” to annoy diners. He quipped that we can now add Saravana Bhavan to the list of Chinese and pizza places that are kid-friendly.

The menu seems pretty much the same as before except that it’s now printed on glossy stock with photos. I recognized some of the same service staff from Mountain View.

We started off with Rava kichadi, $3.50, one of top picks from the Leap Day curry dive at the former site. What looks like a mound of mustard yellow potato salad is actually a hot scoop of roasted sooji (farina-like wheat) studded with carmelized onions, fresh chilis and other veggies, and alluring spices. The sooji was fluffy and light, and the tiny grains radiate a capsicum heat that builds up on the palate. It was as delicious when it cooled off as it had been warm. Accompanied by the lovely coconut chutney and sambar (lentil soup), this was our favorite of this meal again. The sambar was on the salty side, yet complex with a delicious smokiness.

The pair of Plantain bajji, $3.50, disappointed with thick chickpea batter and hard, green plantains.

The mango lassi, $2.50, was satiny and luscious with mango-ness and good tart-sweet balance.

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