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Sep 29, 2006 03:46 PM

Ravi Kabob

Yet another place I've been wrong about: CHowhound favorite Ravi Kabob proved to be a winner after all.

Six of us sampled the lamb kabob, chicken tikka (bone-in), meat curry, vegetable curry, lentils, salad and chickpeas.

The Gujranwala style of preparation for the lamb kabobs give them a guaranteed wonderful crust, redolent with spices and crunch. The lentils were amazingly complex. Some bites offered up bits of fresh ginger, others had seeds of coriander. I'm still not a fan of the chickpeas, but others seem to like them pretty well. I look forward to my next trip which will be very soon.

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    1. re: MLP

      At the intersection of Glebe and Pershing. There are now two locations caddy corner from one another. The one south of Pershing is the more sit down version if I'm correct.

      1. re: Dennis S

        The address is 305 N.Glebe Rd. in Arlington. The larger restaurant across the street opens only at 3pm.

        1. re: Steve

          Oh, that Ravi Kabob. I was thinking of the Ravi Kabab (I'm almost certain that's the name) on Jefferson Street across Rt 7 from Skyline Towers, near Bailey's Crossroads.

          Is the place I'm thinking of a different name? Or are there three of them? I've been somewhat underwhelmed by the the place near Bailey's Crossroads. Not bad, just not great.

          1. re: MikeR

            I don't think that place on Jefferson is Ravi Kebob. I discuss Ravi and similar places quite frequently with Dulles Flyer cab drivers, and none of them has mentioned that place on Jefferson in the conversation. BTW, Ravi was started by a Dulles Flyer driver, and since I live very close, I always just tell the driver to head to Ravi and I'll tell them where to turn from there. Not one of them has ever asked me what I'm talking about. It's always a good story since I was by chance the first customer in Ravi Kebob the day it opened.

            It is always on the top of their list to recommend to me. I can't even recall any of the other places we've discussed, as they're farther away from me and why bother...

            1. re: MikeR

              Yup, it just hit me in the shower (where I do my best remembering) this morning. The place at Bailey's Crossroads is Mogul Kabob, not Ravi Kabob. Kind of hard to keep those Indian names and titles straight, particularly when they're attached to restaurants that aren't what I normally think of as Indian.

              Any, my mediocre review still stands.

              I noticed the Ravi Kabobs in Buckingham and was going to eat ;unch at the little one one day but it was crowded and there weren't any tables available. And the big one was (and apparently still is) closed at lunch. Something on the sign of the big Ravi Kabob suggested that they only served families (or at least family-style/sized meals) so it's not likely that I'll make it there for dinner unless I find a family.

              1. re: MikeR

                FYI: Ravi is Pakistani, not Indian. The more we can make this distinction and learn about the differences the better. On the menu, tips like Lahori Chicken (from Lahore in Pakistan) and Gujranwala style (from the city of the same name), plus the presence of certain dishes (Paya, nihari, kerahi, keraila) are typical of Pakistani kabob or snack shops.

                The food is similar to that of nearby Indian provinces, but Pakistani food has more of a Middle Eastern influence, which I think is evident in the flavor.

                1. re: Steve

                  Thanks for the tips and ethnicity lesson. The only Ravi that comes to mind here is Shankar, master of Indian classical music (which doesn't preclude him from having a Pakistani name, or even having been born there).

                  I'll have to check out the Gujranwala lamb. Crusty, spicy, and juicy sounds like the ideal combination.

                  1. re: MikeR

                    Awesome thread-Ravi Kabab is a copy cat name of a famous kabab house in Pakistan and the UK. Punjab is the Land of the Five Rivers (panj=5, aab=waters) the River Ravi is one of those 5 rivers. And it is Raah-vee kabab not ruh-vee as in Ravi Shankar (Ravi here is actually a nickname for Shankar's longer given name, Ravindra, or Robindra in his native Bengali). Ravi Kabab is very much Punjabi Pakistani.

                    I'll be visiting the NoVa area shortly and I am very excited to try the Indo-Pak food there. Actually, some desi friends of mine call the area Novastan because there are so many South Asians and South Asian shops with all the good stuff available!

      2. Excellent food. Ravi is my local favorite in Ballston...The "family" location has more elbow room, and they're trying to implement table service...they got about halfway there. The original is much faster, and more consistent.

        Side are better off not looking either Ravi location under Arlington's Health Dept...each time I visit Ravi, I figure the combination of spices guards me holistically from any possible contaminants.

        1. In addition to the lamb and chicken kebobs, we also love their shami kabob and the seekh kabob, the latter being about 3 feet worth of a wonderfully spiced sausage-like kebob. The addition of lentils to ground beef makes the shami (appetizer) lighter and a bit fluffy.

          Two dishes which I am longing to try are Lahori Fried Fish and Mughaz Masala, which is lamb brain cooked with spices, tomatoes, and onions.

          1. How in the world do they manage to get their marinade to penetrate practically to the center of the meat on their chicken kabobs?

            1. Finally made it to Ravi Kabob (the one next to the CVS) a couple of weeks ago with several friends - great so we could try a lot of stuff. We got there about 7:00 on Sat. and found it less crowded than I expected. Lots of tables (they don't have all that many) were full of Pakistani families, but we were able to snag a table immediately. Not long after, the owner came over and suggested that we move to a bigger, better table in the window which had just been vacated, so we did, and were glad we did.

              It has a bit of a fast food feel since you order at the counter and the place is very brightly lit.

              The owner (I'm assuming he was the owner) came over twice to ask us how we liked our food and was very pleasant. I read a comment elsewhere that this place has a racist attitude toward white people - I didn't perceive this to be the case at all. I felt very comfortable there. The presence of Pakistani families made me feel good about the food. I loved that people were eating rice with their hands, which adds greatly to the authenticity of the place for me.

              I also perceived it to be clean - I didn't pick up on any health concerns.

              I like that they have to-go containers in easy reach so you can pack your leftovers yourself.

              Now for the food and what we ordered:

              Chicken Karahi - I was dying to try this. I thought it was very good, if expensive ($20, which is intended to serve two). I took leftovers home and had two work lunches out of it. The karahi can be ordered mild or spicy. I tried both - the difference in spice level isn't that great; both are rather spicy. I liked the sauce and wish it had a higher sauce to chicken ratio than it did. The few strings of fresh ginger were welcome. I thought it was a very good dish and worth trying, but on a return trip I would order something else. The chicken in it was cut like they cut chicken in Nepal - willy-nilly with a cleaver. Each small piece contains meat, bone and gristle, making it difficult and messy to eat. My companions (Peace Corps Nepal friends) loved this for the nostalgia factor. I was reminded how I told Nepalis I was a vegetarian as I'm just not fond enough of meat to want to deal with it cut this way.

              The karahi is served with naan - which is probably the best naan I've ever had. Very pillowy and fresh-tasting. It was even good microwaved the next day.

              All the food came out in a reasonable time and everything we ordered was piping hot, which I love.

              Chick peas - loved this dish, and I don't like chick peas in general. I had read a lot of recommendations for this and I was delighted that I'd ordered it. I got a big bowl, which was quite filling in and of itself, eaten with naan.

              Chicken and lamb kabob - both very good. The lamb had a crunchy exterior, which was delicious. I think these were both $9.

              Special samosa - I loved this, and I've never had a samosa anything like it before. I would recommend it highly both for those who like regular samosas and want to try something different and for those (like me) who aren't big fans. It was a samosa which was liberally covered with a raita-like sauce that contained lots of chunks of tomatoes and other vegetables. Just delicious.

              The special samosa and the chick peas (with 1-2 pieces of naan) would make a very filling dinner by themselves. Either with one piece of naan would make a filling snack or a meal for a light eater.

              Rice - excellent and beautiful, as it contained colorful bits in it.

              Raita - good, ,not great. Too runny for my taste.

              Mango lassi - highly recommended. Probably the best I've ever had. It's served in a very large glass - it's easily shared. Loved it and would have difficulty not ordering it again on a second visit.

              I thought that this place was very, very good. I'd put it on regular rotation if I lived near Ballston.

              1 Reply
              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                Adding to Steve's very useful "how to tell an Indian from a Pakistani" restaurant post above, another good hint is the presence or absence of beef on the menu. If there's beef, there's a chance the restaurant is Indian but very likely will turn out to be Pak or Afghan.