A few days ago, a friend of mine suggested eating at a vegetarian restaurant close to our campus. I’m really glad I got to know about the restaurant, Shakahari Vegetarian, and it’s officially my favourite vegetarian restaurant at the moment. Shakahari Vegetarian is right around the corner of Lygon Street, and close to the University of Melbourne, so it’s very convenient to get there. I’ve never really been a big fan of vegetarian dishes since I’m a meat-lover myself, but the restaurant exceeded my expectations.
To clear things up, Shakahari Vegetarian and Shakahari Too are two different restaurants located at different places but share a parent company. Shakahari Vegetarian is located in Carlton while Shakahari Too is in South Melbourne. I tried Shakahari Too and since they’re so similar in terms of the dishes they serve, I’ve decided to review them both at the same time. To make things easier, I’ll review Shakahari Vegetarian first in all aspects, followed by Shakahari Too. Unfortunately, both restaurants don’t offer a wide variety of dishes, and I personally prefer the dishes I’ve tried in Shakahari Vegetarian.
– General Review –
- Service: 8/10
The service in Shakahari Vegetarian was quite varied – the staff that served us were very friendly, but another staff was a lot colder in comparison, and seemed very reluctant to serve us. Nonetheless, the friendlier waiter was very warm and welcoming, and even recommended some of their specialty dishes that I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to try.
- Ambiance: 6.5/10
When I first arrived at Shakahari Vegetarian, I couldn’t even tell that it was a restaurant – it looked small, not too fancy and resembled a residential building. I thought I went to the wrong place until I saw the “open” sign at the door. Indeed, don’t judge a book by its cover – the interior was very spacious and part of it was decorated to resemble an outdoor setting, where there was plenty of natural light streaming in. Another part of the restaurant was darker but provided shade from the sun. I didn’t quite like the ambiance though; it was too quiet, maybe because apart from my friend and I, there were only two other people dining there at the time. I usually prefer restaurants with other patrons dining there compared to a really empty one.
At Shakahari Too, the ambiance was a lot nicer, with brighter lighting and livelier atmosphere. The restaurant is smaller but what both restaurants lacked in terms of ambiance, they made up with their delicious food.
- Non-smoking area: Yes, all of the seats are indoors.
- Vegetarian dishes: Definitely, these are no-meat-allowed restaurants.
- Price range: $$ (AU$20 – $30 for most main dishes.)
Overall Rating: 8/10
– Food Experience –
1) (Entrée – Shakahari Vegetarian) Mushroom Agnolotti:
The Mushroom Agnolotti is one of my two favourite dishes so far. They don’t serve it in Shakahari Too, so I was a little disappointed. The moment the waiter brought the dish over, we knew immediately that it was going to be delicious. It smelled so good already! The dumplings were saucer-like and was filled with Portobello mushrooms. The skin of the dumplings were pan-fried with enough crisp, but weren’t too oily. The mushrooms were thinly sliced and went really well with the dumpling. The sauce that was drizzled over the mushrooms was what really stood out for me – it wasn’t too overwhelming, subtle, tasted both sweet and sour, and extremely fragrant. The dish also tasted great with the wasabi – it complemented and spiced up the dish really well. The portion wasn’t too big, just enough to share between two people. Definitely a must-try!
2) (Main – Shakahari Vegetarian) Laksa Hebat:
The Laksa Hebat makes up the other half of my two favourite dishes among all those that I’ve tried from the two restaurants. When the staff gushed about how it’s the best laksa in the world, I’ve got to agree that it’s one of the best laksas I’ve ever tried, and it’s vegetarian too! The dish was very fragrant from all the different mix of spice added. The soup was quite thick, and the dish is composed of Japanese udon, mushrooms, tofu, tempe, spinach, seitan, and topped with bawang goreng! The portion wasn’t too small; perhaps more than enough for someone with a small appetite, and is great for sharing.
3) (Entrée – Shakahari Too) Soup – Pumpkin Soup:
The soup changes daily, and they were serving pumpkin soup when I went there. The pumpkin soup was quite light, not too salty, but tasted a little bland. I enjoyed the bread more that was served as a side..
4) (Entrée – Shakahari Too) Polenta Triangles:
Truthfully, I expected more from the Polenta Triangles and I thought it tasted more like dessert. It was soft, moist and a little dense. It tasted great with the green pea mint purée, but I thought it was a little too sweet and rich by itself. Good for sharing!
5) (Main – Shakahari Too) A Moorish Spanish Rice:
One word: Exotic. The Spanish rice was packed and fragrant, and overall, the dish wasn’t too salty nor bland. The almonds gave the dish a unique texture too. This dish was quite filling, so it may be great for sharing as well.
6) (Dessert – Shakahari Too) Seasonal Fruit Crumble:
The Seasonal Fruit Crumble varies and this time, it consisted of apples, sultanas, and figs. The warm dish was topped with plenty of nuts, and there was a right balance of sweet and sour. The portion wasn’t that small either, and was also good for sharing.
** Who says food can’t be healthy AND delicious?
- Shakahari Vegetarian: 203 Faraday St, Carlton, Melbourne – VIC, Australia (3053)
- Shakahari Too: 225 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, Melbourne – VIC, Australia
Contact number: Shakahari Vegetarian:+61 3 9347 3848
Shakahari Too: +61 3 9682 2207
Posted by: V