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Tuesday 3 February 2015
Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant, Carlton, Melbourne
Last time we ate there it was 43 C and the air conditioners struggled so much that I found it hard to enjoy the food. This time I really enjoyed my meal. Even so, the food felt a little less exciting than in the days when good vegetarian restaurant food was hard to come by. (Just check out these examples of today's great Melbourne cafes/restaurants.)
It must be hard to keep up with the changing world of restaurant food when you have been in the business this long. Yet Shakahari has a mixture of old favourites and some new modern dishes. They include lots of vegan and gluten free options. I love the lovely terrace house with warm mustard yellow coloured walls and minimal zen furnishings. My one problem with it is that it is really noisy. Which wasn't great on this recent visit with E's soft voice and his blocked ears. Next time I book I might ask for the tables towards the back which seem quieter.
This is the sort of comforting old school dish that I might have expected to find in the 1970s when Shakahari opened. Yet like a lot of Shakahari, it had been modernised with add-ins that would have been unusual a few decades back. As well as quinoa and macadamia in the croquettes, they were served with kim chee, steamed greens and a mild chilli onion wasabi puree.
I am not familiar with kim chee. It certainly gave the dish a kick, while the broccoli and green beans were nicely cooked so they still had some crunch, though a bit cold. As a chilli wuss, I cringe at the suggestion of chilli and wasabi in my dinner. So I consider it a triumph that the mild chilli onion wasabi sauce was so good that I wanted to eat it by the spoonful.
As there was no warm chocolate pudding on the menu (sob), I chose the Avocado Chocolate “Cheesecake”. It is a "raw cheesecake with a walnut and date base filled with a mixture of avocado, Calibut chocolate powder, maca powder (‘Peruvian ginseng’), coconut sugar and vanilla bean (Non-dairy, gluten free, raw)." The chewy base was very good but I found the chocolate filling rather bitter (and not at all like a cheesecake). It was served with a lot of mango which I didn't fancy.
Shakahari was very busy. No table seemed to be empty long. Given the amount of diners, the service was friendly and prompt. We managed to eat three couses in the one and half hours before our movie. I got a little nervous we would be late and asked a waiter we had time for dessert. In response it was brought out promptly. We got to the Imitation Game in plenty of time. Which was just as well because it was an amazing movie. A lovely night out while Sylvia was on a sleepover!
Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant
201-203 Faraday Street (near the corner of Lygon St)
Tel: 03 9347 3848
(Also Shakahari restaurants in South Melbourne)