RaviSoups offers a little refuge. Alas, autumn is upon us again and it's time to pack up picnics and patios for yet another year. As a balmy summer shifts to cooler autumn temperatures, there is definitely a need for hearty, soul-warming comfort food.
Ravi Soups has been creating a buzz since opening last year, receiving awards and widespread acclaim. Owner/Chef Ravi Kanagarajah draws inspiration from his 13 years experience as the saucier and reknowned "soup master" of Mildred Pierce in creating a restaurant closer to his roots. Spurred by the tradition of making "kool" in his native Sri Lanka, whereby family and neighbours gather to make a rich seafood stew; Ravi views soup as a symbol of family bonding and a way to bring people closer together.
But I wonder how an enterprise catering to blurry- eyed partygoers and suburbanites seeking a cheap meal post- clubbing receives such high praises?
Cynicism aside, we walk into Ravi Soups late in the afternoon to find a simple interior occupied by students and nearby office workers. A cash counter up front and a quick, eat-in bar looks out onto the street. There is also a massive wooden communal table and a quaint back patio for sit-in diners with more time to spare.An uncanny assortment of menu items like Chicken Hot Pot and Apricot Curry soup, along with a plethora of perfectly pressed wraps catch the eye. Each item bears a straightforward Western name, but ingredients are inspired from the Far East.
Unaware of the sizeable portions to come, we order two soup and sandwich combos ($10.99). Impossibly creamy, lactose-free Crab Corn Chowder is a rich blend of spices, fresh corn niblets, coconut milk, frayed crabmeat, topped with crispy shallots and strewn with fresh Thai basil. At once spicy, salty and sweet, all of Ravi's dishes evoke this delicate balance of varying flavours.
A Pork Shoulder Wrap with slowly roasted pork, edamame, slaw, baby spinach in a tangy tamarind ketchup is nearly bursting at the seams. All meat served is marinated overnight in Ravi's secret blend of spices, slowly cooked for six hours until the morsels are juicy and melt- in- your mouth tender. The succulent Curry Lamb Wrap packs an electrifying pungent curry punch, which is muted by generous chunks of sweet potato and stuffed with baby spinach. Vegan Porcini Mushroom soup is also miraculously creamy. Blended mushrooms, barley grains and a splash of truffle oil raise this seemingly simple soup to new culinary heights. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian-friendly options, with substitutions possible for most items, as they use a strictly vegetarian stock.
One bite into their buttery, cheddar Cheese Biscuit ($1.50), with its flaky crust and warm interior, and I'm convinced that RaviSoups will be joining my regular lunchtime repertoire.
When Ravi's not satisfying the lunchtime lineups on Adelaide, he's overseeing the completion of his second location along West Queen West beside the Drake Hotel.
Photos by Casey Cunningham