Over the years, Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant in Carlton has built an unwavering reputation as one of Melbourne’s quintessential vegetarian eateries. Since 1972, Shakahari has served fulfilling meals to its vegetarian and vegan clientele, using only fresh, natural ingredients. Even though Shakahari is the Hindi word for vegetarian, the restaurant itself is inspired by Japanese, Thai and Chinese cooking techniques. What is served up, again and again, is a menu that’s bursting with “East meets West” dishes emulating freshness and healthy living; the reason why people from all over town travel to Shakahari.
Not only is the food great for you (many of the ingredients are home-grown on the restaurant’s own farm), the surrounds are just as nourishing. This converted terrace house features homely recycled timber floorboards beneath the feet, earthen-coloured walls that add warmth for its guests and an open fireplace to tickle the toes during Melbourne’s cooler months. Stunning Indian devotional pictures and statues are scattered throughout the restaurant, accentuating Shakahari’s organic approach. Furthermore, Shakahari is located in the vicinity of one of Melbourne’s famous strips for food – Lygon Street.
While the warm, yet stormy weather outside is typically Melbourne, the food being served indoors is typically Shakahari. There’s Mountain Goat handcrafted ales to quench the pre-dinner thirst before Avocado Magic and Salad Shakahari arrive to the table. Avocado Magic is just that – red capsicum and avocado segments fried tempura style, resting on a zingy green sesame coriander puree. Salad Shakahari is the perfect dish for sharing; a flat bowl filled with colourful veggies, brown rice and beans with a serve of apple peanut dressing.
Next up, and with no time to spare, is a generous serve of Legendary Satay Shakahari (a Shakahari staple) and Laksa Hebat. Legendary Satay Shakahari is a full-bodied meal of deep-fried beancurd and seitan skewers, topped with a thick peanut sauce and partnered with pickled veggies, blanched broccoli and turmeric rice. Laksa Hebat is another satisfying choice – a bowl of Japanese udon noodles, spinach, mushrooms, beancurd and beanshoots, bursting with ginger, lemongrass and coconut flavours.
It’s advisable to take a breather between courses, because Shakahari’s dessert menu cannot be overlooked. For the die-hard sweet-tooth customers, there’s my personal favourite – Tofu Caramel. It’s a gloriously wobbly serve of tofu caramel, crème caramel style, dripping in a ginger gula Melaka sauce and adorned with crushed pistachio toffee morsels. For anyone looking for comforting dessert-food, then there’s a glass of warmed Red Quinoa Secret, red quinoa and sago cooked in coconut milk and dressed with crushed, caramelised pecan nuts and sprigs of mint. After a meal like this, you’re sure to leave Shakahari full, fulfilled, and with a revitalised spring in your step.
Be sure to experience Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant for yourself. 201-203 Faraday Street Carlton Victoria 3053. Phone 03 9347 3848.
There is also a second location, aptly named Shakahari [too]. 225 Clarendon Street South Melbourne Victoria 3205. Phone 03 9682 2207.
I’ve dined at Shakahari [too] as well and you can read my review over at WeekendNotes.