(8/2021 Updated the post with a video)
Last autumn I was planning a trip to Stockholm, from where I had found a wonderful South Indian restaurant called Saravanaa Bhavan. My intention was to go to Stockholm right from the early summer of 2020, when the summer holidays have begun, but life chose differently by bringing corona with travel restrictions, as you probably remember.
Last summer Estonia was one of the few safe countries to travel to from Finland, and I went there too. It was a pleasant surprise when I found a South Indian restaurant from Tallinn as well. I decided to go there and test the menu.
Check the video –
That restaurant was called Banana Leaf and it was located in the well-known T1 shopping center, a few kilometers walk away from the port of Tallinn. Public transport, of course, would have taken me there as well.
This T1 mall had a nice glass roof and a white ferris wheel was visible through it. It would have been nice to watch the sunset from the ferris wheel after the meal, but the mall closed as early as 9pm, leaving no time for amusement after dinner.
Banana Leaf in T1 mall was not a fancy restaurant, but a basic neat Indian restaurant in a shopping mall, where waiters wipe the table on request after the previous customer.
The menu of this South Indian restaurant looked promising and there was, for example, vankai pakora, mukka jonna vada, fish varuval and ambati pappu, all of which I had no idea of, let alone experience, but I ended up ordering the good old paneer dosa, although uttapams were also there in all the traditional spices. For a drink I chose mango lassi, allthough it wasn’t made from a fresh fruit.
It had been almost a year since my previous South Indian meal, so I was a little disappointed when the dosa was tasting just okay, instead of being a wonderfully thin and crunchy taste experience with a nicely spiced and suitably fiery paneer cheese.
I had come from Helsinki, Finland, and walked many kilometers from the Tallinn harbor on a hot summer evening just to get a suitable fiery South Indian meal, and then I was served an all-woman-suitable easy-to-eat and almost tasteless thick savory pancake.
Luckily I noticed in the restaurant menu that “Köik road saab teha rohkem ja vähem vurtsikas,” which meant that the dishes could be prepared more or less seasoned according to each customer’s individual taste. So I dared to ask if they could make a chili paneer, all though it wasn’t mentioned on the menu. The service worked well and the joy was great when the dose arrived at the table. That chili paneer tasted suitably fiery, so that you could barely eat it without tears. We had to even order another similar serving because it was so tasty.
The restaurant evening was worth making and the return trip to the hotel went comfortably on foot while the sun was setting at the same time.
So would I go again to eat in this Banana Leaf restaurant in Tallinn? Maybe so, but then I would probably avoid the local paneer cheese, which apparently had so many e-additives which caused health problems that were luckily relatively short-lived ailments. The food and decor received three stars out of five.
One month later the first South Indian restaurant was opened in Helsinki, which I wrote about in August 2020.
You can read this post about South Indian restaurant in Tallinn, Estonia, also in Finnish.