My number of vegetarian friends has grown and so has the usual dilemma of where to eat. As amazing as vegie bar is, it's always nice to have some variety. So when I stumbled across Shakahari I felt as triumphant as a detective who solved a crime.
At first glance I assumed Shakahari to be a typical Indian restaurant, but however their website intrigued me after reading that it was an East-West fusion of cuisines. And with names like 'Avocado Magic, Cajun Patois and Zen Latino' adorning the menu, it really made me want to pay a visit.
So one fine day, armed with a vegetarian friend, that is precisely where I ended up. The restaurant is located quite close to Lygon Street along Faraday Street in Carlton. Almost camouflaged along the terraced housing it is painted an earthy yellow colour. The interior was really homey but also had a very tropical feeling to it with warm colours like yellow and orange. A courtyard at the far end of the restaurant lit up the place making it seem even friendlier.
After the initial excitement of getting an awesome window seat/girly exclamations we finally got around to fully scouring the menu. We decided on a dark grape juice, Avocado Magic, Croquettes Cassava and a Zen Latino. The dark grape juice was first to arrive. It was very much like normal grape juice but it had a hint of dates as well. It was a bit sweet and my friend said it was 'interesting', but I quite liked it.
Next on the list was the aptly named Avocado magic, for it did not disappoint and was indeed magical. As the menu says it consists of "Avocado wedges and red capsicums rolled in thin eggplant slices then 'tempura' fried in a rice batter, served with a jade green sesame coriander puree." Even a carnivore should enjoy this dish, it was that good.
Out of the two mains, Croquettes Cassava was my favourite. The crunchy patties full of delicious, healthy things came with its own set of freshly steamed vegies (including my all-time favourite broccoli; no sarcasm, I love broccoli). It also had some kimchi on the side making the dish even better. I wasn't a huge fan of the Zen Latino, it is what I would call a hard-core healthy meal with red quinoa, brown rice, edamame beans, spinach tofu and chestnuts. However, my friend seemed to enjoy it. And for those of you who don't particularly fancy so many… healthy words in one dish, there are other more enticing options like the lasagne Pasolini.
While we were pretty full (the mains were really filling) we had to try the desserts too. We decided on a Pomegranate flourless chocolate pudding and organic coconut ice cream. The chocolate pudding was warm and the sour cherries were a pleasant surprise to taste. Personally, I am not a huge fan of coconut on its own, but the coconut ice cream is probably a coconut lover's dream. It was to say the least top notch.
The staff were really friendly and helped us out in deciding what to order. And it is also a nice place to come for catching up with friends as the atmosphere is perfect for chattering away. And if you are closer to South Melbourne, there is a 'Shakahari too' there as well.