Raag’s new owner embraces the big city flavors of Indian fusion.
Raag is undergoing a transformation that’s turning it into a culinary destination reminiscent of the bustling restaurant scenes in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles or London. This exciting evolution is bringing the vibrant flavors of Indian fusion cuisine to the Midwest, promising a unique dining experience that rivals even the big city culinary hubs.
This ambitious goal is the brainchild of Sohil Goorha, who affectionately calls the restaurant Raag 2.0. He stepped into ownership of the restaurant in 2022 with his sights set on its rebirth. All he kept was the name, which means “symphony” in Hindi. His aim is to make Raag a premier destination for foodies and locals alike. Goorha saw an opportunity to bring Indian-influenced fine dining to Minnesota and has been inspiring guests ever since with surprising, yet approachable dishes.
“This is not the same Raag,” Goorha says. “If you’ve been here before, come back and try it again—you’ll immediately see and feel how different it is.”
Goorha’s strategy is multifaceted but started with major simplification by reducing the number of items on the menu. A kids’ menu was also created with the help of his six-year-old daughter, Cira. It has naan cheese pizzas, steamed broccoli and chicken tenders. The enticing cocktail menu (including nonalcoholic options) pairs seamlessly with the food and enhances the entire dining experience.
“We want Raag to be a welcoming restaurant for everybody, no matter your background,” he says. “You should feel like you’re dining and drinking like you never left your house, while being served in a fine dining restaurant.”
Raag also offers a wide range of dietary adjustments, such as dairy, vegan, nut and gluten free.
While Goorha has a wealth of knowledge, both as a culinary school graduate and world traveler, he says Raag would not be where or what it is without the rest of the team. Raag’s head chef, Romila Ramamurthy, has always been passionate about cooking but more so about innovation, evolution and exploration with food. Similar to Goorha, she graduated from culinary school but then went on to earn her degree in food chemistry and food physics two years ago and is now working toward her master’s degree in food science. Her prior experience in the kitchen spans from corporate chef to working for Carnival and Disney cruise lines, but it was Goorha’s persistence to bring Ramamurthy to Raag that inspired her to return after a two year hiatus.
“We are so synchronized,” Ramamurthy says. “We think almost alike.” Since rejoining the kitchen at Raag, she has been busy adding items to the menu, such as the French-inspired seared lamb rack over mint curry, and lobster tail with kedgeree pilaf rice. It was Ramamurthy who came up with the idea for the Samosa Festival, which featured eight different samosa fillings, which guests could enjoy all month long for one month only.
In addition to the kitchen and management, returning customers credit the waitstaff for the incredible experience dining at Raag. Edina resident Michael Bahr noticed the changes immediately, “The ambiance is terrific, and the wait staff is so professional,” he says. “They are truly reinventing the menu, but there’s something for everyone and the presentation is fantastic.”
Another Raag regular Rachel Cornfield had been going to the restaurant for years but more frequently since Goorha’s leadership. “The energy has changed,” Cornfield says. “It feels like a fun, neighborhood restaurant, and Sohil is the driving force of that. If he is there, he’ll come up and say hi, welcome you … he remembers you. The staff is just wonderful, too.”
This past summer, Raag made a splash by hosting six pop-up dining experiences, all of which sold out. Hand-selected chefs, often James Beard or Michelin award recipients from across the country, would fly in to work alongside Raag kitchen staff to create a unique menu for one night only.
At one of the pop-ups this summer, chef Keith Sarasin from Boston worked alongside Raag staff to bring his more regional approach to the menu with a seven-course meal. Sarasin has been doing pop-ups for 11 years, but it was Goorha and his staff that sealed the deal. “Getting to work with the kitchen crew there was incredible. [Ramamurthy] is amazing, with great ideas … their whole team was,” he says.
Another guest chef this summer flew in from Houston for a two-night event—a happy hour and a seven-course meal. Roshni Gurnani, known to many as Chef Rosh (winner of the Food Network show Chopped), was not a newbie to visiting Minneapolis but hadn’t yet found good Indian food until going to Raag. In addition to their fantastic grub, Gurnani credits her interest in the pop-up experience to Ramamurthy. “[Goorha’s] chef is a woman, which is a big deal,” she says. “There are not enough of us in the industry, so that really interested me …her passion for food, her mindset.”
In addition to Sarasin and Gurnani, Raag also brought in chef Vicky Colas and chef Shack. Ramamurthy returned the admiration of the pop-ups and the chefs that accompanied them. “I love to work with different personalities, and we learn from each other,” she says. “It’s an interchange of knowledge and ideas. Opening your kitchen is opening your heart to people.”
In the meantime, the menu at Raag will continue to change with the seasons. Goorha is also unveiling a new full-service brunch called Journey Through India, featuring breakfast staples from different regions with a modern approach. In addition, guests can expect new cocktails, dinner choices and express lunch options as Raag approaches the two-year anniversary of Goorha taking the lead.
Goorha, however, always welcomes his daughter into the limelight whenever possible. Cira is a passionate young aspiring chef, who spends her free time studying the kitchen staff as they buzz to and from their stainless steel stations, maybe even trying her hand at recipes here and there. She hopes to be on MasterChef Junior, but for now she’ll be in charge of the Raag kids’ menu.