A popular Sri Lankan café that promotes “wellbeing and co-working” in Dulwich has been named as a winner of a national award.

Oru Space Café in East Dulwich was named winner of the Best Café award at the Good Food Awards 2024 in a neighbourhood that was recently ranked as one of the best neighbourhoods to live in the UK.

Dulwich was recently named by blogger Muddy Stilettos as one of the top places to live in the UK and was one of the only south London neighbourhoods to make the list.

Muddy Stilettos described the neighbourhood as “cool” but “not in a graffiti-scrawled, underground clubs and street food way, think more farmers markets, art galleries and notable restaurants.”

News Shopper: Oru Space exteriorOru Space exterior (Image: Oru Space)

Oru Space Café is one of 11 businesses in south London to have been named as winners of the Good Food Awards this year.

The site features a co-working space open on Monday to Thursday 8am -7pm, Friday 8am-5pm and weekends 9am-7pm.

It also has a café named Trinco serving Tami Sri Lankan cuisine using plant-based ingredients, open on weekdays from 8am-4pm, and weekends from 9pm-4pm.

News Shopper: A busy day in the restaurantA busy day in the restaurant (Image: Oru Space)

The ethos behind Oru Space is centred around creative, “inclusive” and “accessible” community spaces that promote “coworking” and “wellbeing.”

It offers a relaxed, plant-filled hub with a daytime menu that “transforms” into a warmly light intimate setting at night with an evening menu.

Trinco, short for Trincomalee, the birthplace of founder Vibushan Thirukumar, serves a “modern interpretation’ of Tami Sri Lankan dishes that “doesn’t shy away from spice, boldness, intensity and freshness of flavour" that Sri Lankan food is recognised for.

The kitchen, led by chef Izabela Kobylarz and Maya Berthou, features a “plant-rich menu” focusing on flavour and colour.

News Shopper: Colour and flavourColour and flavour (Image: Oru Space)

The menu features both a daytime and evening menu which, according to Vibushan, was an “integral” part of his upbringing, growing up with parents who worked different shift patterns.

Vibushan said: “Between day shift and night shift we had a window of 9-10pm to see our Amma (Tamil for Mother).

“My dad would collect her from the Royal Mail sorting office, we’d have dinner together and she’d head back to work.

“It was all we knew so it was pure joy - a late dinner of amazing food AND we get to see our Amma.

“Food for us was what we clung on to as access to our heritage and culture - this quality of taste, sense of comfort and fulfilment is something that feels harder to achieve than it should be.”

News Shopper: Taste, comfort and fulfilmentTaste, comfort and fulfilment (Image: Oru Space)

Highlights of the daytime Trinco menu include the Oru Dahl, a dish that is altered seasonally, accompanied by a different roasted vegetable, as well as a homemade naan, pol sambol and raita.

Other popular daytime dishes include the Masala beans on sourdough with cheddar and a fried egg.

The café also serves seasonal specials including salads, cakes and pastries.

News Shopper: SandwichesSandwiches (Image: Oru Space)

Their night menu includes Sri Lankan dishes such as their biryani, jackfruit curry, aubergine curry, mutton-less rolls and okra fries.

The menu also features a range of cocktails and curated wines.

Alongside savouries, the menu also features a dessert menu, crafted for “months” by chef Maya Bethou, which combines Western desserts with Sri Lankan flavours.

One of their most popular desserts is the caramelised pineapple, topped with mango, basil-infused coconut yoghurt and guava sorbet with a sprinkling of candied pecans, chilli flakes, basil oil and microbasil, which is also a vegan friendly dish.

News Shopper: DessertDessert (Image: Oru Space)

According to the Good Food Awards website, the winners are awarded a Blue Ribbon based on food quality, service and value.

The Good Food Awards first began in 2022 and aims to celebrate “culinary excellence” from food businesses across the UK, from cafés and restaurants to takeaways.

News Shopper: A wide range of cuisineA wide range of cuisine (Image: Oru Space)

Alongside food, one of the other key areas that the business promotes is accessibility and inclusion in the form of community events.

Oru also holds Community Cook-Up events at Trinco in partnership with Migrant Help UK, offering free meals and an evening experience with live music to help welcome new families into the community.

News Shopper: Friendly serviceFriendly service (Image: Oru Space)

Vibushan added: "We are delighted that Trinco has been awarded a Good Food award two years running - a testament to the dedication and talent of our team, from recipe creation to execution and customer service.

“We're proud to bring Tamil Sri Lankan cuisine to East Dulwich, inspired by food we ate day in, day out and at family gatherings growing up.

“We're excited to soon be opening Trinco in our second Oru site on Sutton High Street."