Address: Isckon, corner St Andrew Rd & Teddington Rd, Rondebosch
Hours: closed Mon, 12pm-6pm Tue-Sat, 12pm-4pm Sun
I went with zero expectations and wasn’t quite sure what awaited me when a good friend told me he was taking me to the Hare Krishna Centre (Iskcon) in Rondebosch for lunch as they made amazing vegan food. I didn’t realise their café was called Govinda’s – a place I had been meaning to visit for over a year. Suddenly all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I was actually at this legendary place that had been around since 1972!
I am a firm believer that food made with love and respect tastes better and vibrates with a higher energy. Who knew this Cape Town Vegan was so spiritual? Damn straight! I was excited to taste food made in a place that values vegetarianism and veganism and whose cooking process includes chanting and singing while they prepare the food to bless it.
So firstly understand that these guys are POPULAR. At 12pm (when the café opened) there was already a queue! This is for two very apparent reasons: firstly their food is bloody delicious and secondly cos it is so astonishingly cheap (circa 1983). Everything from families to pensioners to students – you name it, they were there. Well – everyone except Krishna devotees!
There were both vegan and vegetarian options on offer and the buzz word in the eatery was paneer. So being the tool that I am, I said, “That sounds amazing!” Didn’t know that paneer was an Indian cheese. It didn’t go to waste – my vege friend took it home as a takeaway. Word of the Day: “Paneer”
The vibe is sort of that of a buffet where they ladle the food onto a plate for you. I was cool with this – it didn’t feel like a buffet, but that’s the only word I can use to describe it. I can only compare this food to my grandmother’s cooking. It is possibly the highest compliment I can give it. Hearty, homely, tasty, healthy, and HUMONGOUS. They fill your plate to the MAX, with veg kofta, rice, dal, rotis, etc. I’m not ashamed to admit I went back for a second helping (I literally just took my plate to them and asked for more like Oliver Twist!). I LOVED how so many people bought takeaway dinner after they had eaten their lunch. Why wouldn’t you? It’s food that is crazy cheap and bursts with flavour!
Both our meals were so big we took home takeaway portions. Along with this we had two bottled waters, all for a grand total of R130. I thought they may charge me twice for the second helping, but this place wasn’t the rip-you-off kind of vibe.
You won’t find pretentious folk here EVER.
Ask permission to step inside their temple, and make sure you take your shoes off when you do. It doesn’t matter what your belief system is or what your religious practices are: I always admire ANYONE who takes their spiritual practices seriously and these devotees clearly do. Beautiful peaceful temple. I realise that was not a complete sentence, but I am sure you have noticed by now that I write as if I am sitting on your couch with my dirty feet propped up on your coffee table. And now you are irritated with me.
They take cards as well as SnapScan – love that! There is yoga on a Tuesday and Thursday followed by dinner as well (all-inclusive for R60!!!)
Govinda’s – maybe Rondebosch’s best kept secret?