Saturday, 16 February 2013

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well

Tucked away off  busy Lygon street sits a restaurant that has made it's home for 30 years. A long red walk way takes you to a large full dining room bustling with enjoyment as diners catch up with family and friends.

The room is loud as sound bounces from the wooden floors, although trying to stay cool in the sweltering heat it is almost hard to concentrate on your own table for enjoyment. Daiquiri's and beers ordered we are greatful to be near a window that has a slight breeze to get us settled.

Tonight we catch up with some dear friends who have continued to come to Shakahari for some time and we were pleased to come along for a fun night out and enjoy some great food.

When good food is involved it brings everyone closer and together you can relax, unwind and enjoy your evening, and thankfully tonight it has delivered.

Shakahari specialises in your Vegetarian cuisine, and I'm actually pleased to be getting out more to some Vegetarian restaurants. As much as I do love my meat at times I want a big bowl of vegies or lentils. There are some amazing natural flavours in grains fruit and vegies and I think a lot of us forget how flavoursome and delicious they are.

Entrees this evening was a hard decision within itself. The tables favourite of the evening would have to be the Kerabu. Here they combine a salad of fresh green lentils, watercress, slices of fennel, beetroot, walnuts and goji berries all coated blissfully with a wasabi chilli onion dressing and crisp kale.

A table of four was blown away in amazement with the flavours, and all I want now is this dish. I will dream many dreams about this one dish. For a hot summers night it could be that dish you could enjoy when you're not too hungry or can't decide cause it's just so hot. A perfect balance of flavours.

Next we enjoy the famous Avocado Magic. There own signature dish of avocado wedges and red capsicum rolled in thin slices of eggplant which is coated in a light tempura batter and served golden with a coriander and sesame puree. Similar to a spring roll but more delicate in flavours. Nothing is overpowering and the puree although coriander based (not my favourite of flavours) it actually enhanced the magic of the rolls.

The Scent of Green Papaya was very light and summery with it's green papaya mixed with a selection of shredded raw vegetables, roasted cashews, tempeh (a type of soybean cake) finished off with fresh herbs and a mild chilli and tamarind sauce. For me this dish although light and refreshing it was quiet sour possibly from the tamarind. The cashews unfortunately weren't toasted enough to bring out their natural oils to enhance and cut through the sauce. If they were tit would have bought a perfect complexity in flavours.

Something I was impressed with tonight, was trying soy cheese for the first time. It just tasted like Parmesan and was actually more delicious than I had imagined. An impressive Italian styled Linguine Amore made with gluten free pasta was tossed with a basil almond pesto, seasonal greens of asparagus and kale finished with shredded soy cheese, fresh basil and almonds. Strong flavours but well balanced this was a beautiful simplistic dish.

Croquettes Cassava are a pleasant dish. Light crunchy discs of cassava, yam, roasted macadamias and black quinoa were soft in flavours but with the accompaniment of the lemongrass capsicum sauce the flavour is enhanced adding depth to the dish. Mind you if you are sharing this friend be the first one to start the dish. The issue I had was that the lemongrass and capsicum sauce was so good my adorable husband ate most of it, leaving me less to enjoy with my 2 croquettes, and he wasn't even sorry. Our friends said the same thing when we were eating this dish that you could eat buckets of this sauce it's that good.

Tha Laksa Hebat was tasty with Udon noodles, spinach, mushrooms and bean sprouts were coated in a  soft ginger flower and lemon grass broth with hints of spice and coconut. It is a hearty and filling dish, may not have been the best option in the sweltering heat but it was calling to me to try it. It was a nice dish overall, perhaps a little bit more balance of spice could have enhanced the flavours slightly but it was enjoyable.

The Red curry looks like a winner of a dish. Indian mixed vegetables in a spicy red mix of tumeric, spices and curry leaves. Served with tumeric rice, cucumber pickle chuteny, yellow split pea dhal and papadams. Kicks of spice and seeing the excitement on our friends face was clear signs that perhaps this should have been the dish to order. Wholesome and flavoursome, and if you have an appetite this would be the perfect dish for you.

Desserts were an interesting side to the evening, I've never really looked into desserts made from tofu, so tonight was going to be the first time. Living on the edge, taking a risk giving it a whirl. The verdict, different.

 I went for the Tofu Caramel. A tofu dessert similar to a panna cotta coated in a golden caramel sauce and pistachios. The dessert was very wet, the tofu panna cotta was not as set as I imagined and I had actually pictured in my mind something completely as to how I read it. Never the less it was an unusual balance of flavours and you do need the caramel sweetness to cut through the tofu flavour.

The Chocolate yoghurt cheesecake, was seriously rich and am glad I only had a few bites. The intense Belgian Callebaut chocolate was intense. the side of strawberry mint raita was an unusual mix but worked pretty well and cut through that chocolate. A very dense dessert and if you are on boarder line full, perhaps go for something lighter

The final dessert on our table was the Pulut Mango. A warm dessert of red rice and goji berries which is cooked in a pandan flavoured coconut cream finished with caramelised mango. Similar to eating warm porridge. Soft in flavours and continues to make you think you are eating a breakfast but it's subtle sweetness was actually very pleasant to end you evening.

All of us had an enjoyable evening, and it's a great idea to book your table later in the evening rather than early as the dining area does get very loud. They do have a courtyard that is a little quieter. If it's a hot night you will have to soak up that heat as no air con is available, just coolers which at times made it uncomfortable to enjoy your evening to 100%.

The food is magnificent and was pleased to enjoy the combinations of natural flavours. We would certainly return back to work our way through the rest of the menu.


Shakahari Vegetarian
203 Faraday st
Carlton
9347 3848

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