Sri Vihar (formerly known as Shanthi Vihar) is a well known vegetarian Indian restaurant located at the Thummulla Junction, towards Havelock road. Veering towards the Southern side of things, they offer the standard Madras selection of dosas, thalis and idlis as well as reaching a bit further North for some naan, paneer and those thick yoghurt and masala based curries you can expect from any British curry house.
We went for a Sri Lankan style spicy fried rice, the koththu roti and onion oothappam.
Service was good and the food, for three hungry tummies, arrived fairly quickly and simultaneously – unlike most places that serve one person while the rest hang around waiting.
All food was served hot and fresh and arrived pretty much according to the manager’s description. The dishes that were meant to be spicy actually were spicy (bear in mind the rice comes with no curry) and the Koththu Roti had a good depth of Indian flavour and spice (different to the Koththu Roti you’d find at Pilawoos and other places). The oothappam was nice and soft – a large, pancake like bread thickly embedded with shreds of red onion and complemented by a spicy gravy and green & red sambol.
The total damage came to about Rs. 770 inclusive of drinks for three people, which really isn’t bad at all – that’s Rs. 260 per person for a good meal.
A quick glance around the restaurant made me realize there was a swift rotation of customers – no sooner had one party departed it was almost instantly replaced by another – all of which happened with minimum fuss. This is the speedy kind of service you can get at a true South Indian bhavan, where eating is more about efficiency (how many people can you fit on a table?) than a gentle, epicurean experience. Which is fine, if you know that’s what you’re getting.
Shanthi Vihar’s has a lot of options for a tasty yet affordable vegetairan meal. Their dessert menu isn’t too vast, but the general ghee soaked goods of Gulab Jamun, Halwa and the like are available. Just don’t go in expecting the ambience of Navaratna or Mango Tree. This is eating out, proper South Indian style. Which means, it’s fast and there’s no fuss. But it’s also rather tasty.