A soup-er place to stop
4 Barrack St, Hobart. No alcohol policy. Monday to Friday 8.30am to 6.30pm, Saturday 11am to 3pm. Takeaways. 6223 8882. Soupstop. com. au
AND now for something completely different – for me certainly and, as far as I know, for Hobart. Indian vegetarian street food in the now misleadingly named Soup Stop.
Dr Harcharan Kaur gave up a hospital administration position in Chandigarah in her native Punjab to come to Tasmania six years ago to see her two children through school and into the University of Tasmania. Meanwhile, her husband, Satinder Pal Singh, remained running the family business in Chandigarah before joining them and taking over the Soup Stop two years ago.
With Soup Stop, they looked around the already- crowded Indian restaurant scene in Hobart and decided to offer something different.
While the restaurant’s vegetarian and no alcohol policies are derived from their Sikh religion, Indian street food became their point of difference.
And the menu is very different. So my visit was as much a lexical lesson as it was a very enjoyable lunch.
For example, in addition to the usual tandoor- baked naan and roti breads, there is shallow- fried paratha flatbread with various fillings, deep- fried puri bread and a cheesy and chewy, tear- apart, fermented and deepfried bhatura bread served with a deliciously spiced chickpea curry.
With chaat being the generic word for savoury snacks, there are four different types including an aloo tikki chaat consisting of a pan- fried potato ( aloo), herb and lentil pattie ( tikki) in a dark, soupy topping of chana masala curry, chutneys, yoghurt, ginger and beetroot, the dish full of deep, dark, tingling flavours.
Then tamarind, coriander and mint were used to sour and lift the flavours of a colourful and wonderfully fresh and crunchy, salad- like dish of puffed rice, cucumber, onions, peanuts and tomatoes called bhel puri.
From the bain marie came the best samosa I’ve tasted, the casing nicely crisp but pliable, the filling beautifully coriander- seed flavoured
and scented. And a pakora was just as good.
And topping those was the best dessert I’ve had in an Indian restaurant – sooji halwa, roasted sooji ( semolina) in a crumbly cake fl avoured with raisins, cardamom and saffron and garnished with shaved almonds.
Then, included in my best- ever, was a thick, smooth and deliciously fl avoured and refreshing mango, ginger and mint lassi.
To the name Soup Stop on the menus and printed material, they add “and much more”. And there is much more by way of the day’s specials, soups, a variety of chaats, coffees, teas and lassis listed on black wall mirrors, part of the orange and black décor, plus a menu listing of Indian rice and breakfast dishes, salads and what they call “Modern Indian” – samosa and aloo tikki burgers and an aloo paratha quesadilla. Even Indian food is becoming Americanised.
It’s a small space with just the one table seating four with additional seating at the wall and window benches.
The place is spotlessly clean and I watched as the two curries, samosas and pakoras in the bain marie were topped up with freshly cooked additions as they ran down during a busy eat- in and takeaway lunch.
So everything is freshly prepared and cooked, gluten- free and vegan options are available and the fl avours of everything are subtle and beautifully balanced.
Having asked if they would prepare a few of the dishes as they would for themselves, I went a second time. It was even better, only mildly hotter but with the overall spiciness lifted and brighter.
So, two suggestion: fi rst, that you go; second that you ask them to do the same.