Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant

203 Faraday St
Carlton, VIC 3053
03 9347 3848

Georgie, our fabulous and always happy receptionist, walked past me one afternoon and asked “do you want to go to Shakahari, fatbooo?”. I’d never heard of it. Georgie cooly gushes that they do great vegetarian at Shakahari. Of course I’m interested then! The next day, she pinned up a sheet for anyone at work to write their names down for dinner at Shakahari a few weeks down the road.
…reminds me of sign-up sheets in high school to join the glee club or cheerleading club. Lol. But response at work was good and we had a table for 12.
This restaurant is right opposite Brunetti in Carlton, I’ve walked down this street so many times and have never noticed it. It must be its unassuming Victorian frontage. All fenced up, shady and leafy. The restaurant name is quietly painted on the wall beside the door. If you didn’t peek in close enough, you wouldn’t even have guessed it’s an eatery. It looks more like a home, or a rustic art gallery. I learnt later that Shakahari has been around for like ever. To me, it feels like one of Melbourne’s secret places. Or maybe I just don’t observe things much at all when I’m strolling in Melbourne.
Shakahari’s interior was simple and without much decoration. I didn’t really like the mustard coloured walls of the restaurant itself, but I thought the red entry corridor was quite nice. The wooden floors and echoey walls really reminded me of an old-style Victorian home.
I felt a little sorry for the waiting staff. We reserved the table for 6.30pm, but only half of us turned up then. The rest were up to one hour late, trickling in as the dusk settled in Carlton. We had drinks and a few of the entreés while we waited for everyone to turn up.
Chia, Buckwheat, Besan Trio $12.50
Crusty flatbread made of three protein, fibre rich ingredients, chia seeds, buckwheat and chickpea flour. This is served with a tangy coriander, almond coconut dip. Great for sharing.
We had this while we were waiting for the rest. Very yummy, I must say! I liked the tangy dip, rich with coriander and almond. Great combination.
Avocado Magic $13.50 (3 serves pictured here)
Avocado wedges, red capsicums rolled in thin eggplant slices then ‘Tempura’ fried in a rice batter, served with a jadegreen sesame coriander puree. A signature dish.
CC at work tells us if we goto Shakahari, we must not miss out on Avocado Magic. It’s the best. They tasted not bad, some of us thought it was delicious. To me, it felt like a vegetarian tempura made slightly more elaborate. Instead of individual vegetables per piece, you mix three types. And avocado makes the middle very creamy and moist. They were cooked well, but I wasn’t as sure about the flavour and texture combination. In particular, the coriander pureé was sweet and almost chutney-like, which didn’t go with the wedges.
Gohon Nori Rolls $13.50 (3 serves pictured here)
Two nori rolls of mixed vegetables, green seaweed, roasted sesame seeds and herbs. These are pan-fried, served with wasabi soy-miso dressing and an assorted sprout salad.
We use gluten free soy sauce.

CE was very excited about trying this. I wasn’t as keen, thinking it would taste like any-old vegetarian sushi roll. But since it’s an entreé share plate, I got to have a try. Boy was I mistaken.
First up, these rolls contained no rice! I didn’t read the menu description to realise that. The vegetables in the filling was ever so delicately marinated and when served after light pan frying, they taste incredibly good. The veggies in the roll were still crunchy and springy. Yum! I am normally quite difficult to please with fusion takes on Asian food, prime example being the avocado ‘tempura’ above. But these rolls were a win.
On to the mains. I’ll have you know that between all of us, we actually ordered every main dish on the menu! So you will get to see a picture of each dish. But I didn’t get a taste of most of them, so any comments on these dishes will be based on my colleagues’ palates.

Satay Shakahari $19.50
Deep fried skewers of beancurd, seitan, onions and capsicums dressed with a mildly spiced peanut sauce. This dish comes with pickles, blanched greens and turmeric rice.
Allie had the satay and when I asked her how was it, she simply said “I enjoyed it”. Haha!
Tokyo Awaken $21.00
For Tokyo and here, a healthy option. Unpolished red rice cooked with riso, diced kombu
and vegetables. This comes with spinach, mashed tofu salad and ponzu braised pumpkin,
leeks and daikon.
I actually wanted to order this but when Sloaney wanted it too, I decided to try out something else. Sloaney thought the rice was very filling but liked the mashed tofu salad. Personally, I wished I could’ve had a taste of that tofu salad, it looked fascinating when it was served. But somehow in this close-up picture, it looks like someone chewed tofu with spinach and spat it out.
Croquettes de Chine $19.50
Crunchy patties of steamed mashed yam, potatoes, roasted macadamia nuts, pickled turnips and diced vegetables. Served with herbal oil tossed greens, kim chee and a mild black bean ginger sauce. Gluten free sauce option available.
Bel had these patties. She told me they were lovely, very moist inside and she finished her plate quite quickly.
Gluten Free Spaghetti $19.50
Gluton free pasta from Bi Aglut, Italy. Spaghetti tossed with button, portobello and oyster mushrooms together with asparagus and basil pinenut pesto. Shredded soy cheddar and laced basil add to the taste. (This spaghetti is made of maize, potato and lupin flour. Lupin not recommended for people who are allergic to peanuts)
CE absolutely enjoyed her pasta dish but couldn’t finish it because she is petite. Great variety of mushrooms and I could smell the pasta right beside me. It smelt good, althought the pasta dish itself looked dry.
Green, Green Laksa $19.50
Green tea soba noodles (buckwheat/wheat), spinach and bean sprouts cooked in a Thai krachai (lesser galangal) green curry coconut stock. This is topped with a variety of fried tofu, tempeh and fragrant herbs.
Mandy had the laksa. There’s no way I’d order this because my benchmark is too high and I’d be disappointed no matter how hard I tried. Mandy said the laksa was not bad and the ingredients were quite layered. Noodles and bean sprouts at the bottom, then mushrooms, spinach and tofu as we progress towards the top. I had a sip of the broth and it basically tasted like a non-spicy green curry rich in coconut milk. From the way she spoke, I could tell Mandy wasn’t too enthusiastic about this dish.
Kundalini $21.00
Indian mixed vegetable curry in mint coconut stock, flavoured with unique roasted
spices and fresh curry leaves. This comes with turmeric rice, mango vegether pickles, dhal
and pappadam.
Georgie and LP both had this curry dish. LP could not finish it. Georgie commented that it was nice but would’ve prefered if it had more spices in it. Because LP was sitting right across from me, I got to try a lot of this dish. I wasn’t particularly excited. The curry had a vegetable component that had lots of capsicum, and the other half was lentils. It was not spicy at all.
Couscous Ala Caspian $21.00
Turmeric couscous served with oven baked romano, sun-dried tomatoes, herbal baked red capsicum, eggplant and spiced chickpea stew. Chopped parsley and roasted almonds enhance the Moroccan flavour.
Finally, the dish that I had, the couscous! These days, I have such a ridiculous backlog of food posts that I now have to note down what I ate and how I enjoyed it. On my notepad, I wrote how this dish was “light and delicious and not cliché Moroccany with none of that typical Lentils R Us type spices”. And now that I blog about it, I find it ironic that the menu description says it’s supposed to taste Moorish.
I absolutely enjoyed my couscous. The warm and soft eggplants, semi-dried tomatoes, chickpeas and almond slivers went really well together, giving a great balance of sweet, savoury and tangy. And the light fluffiness of the couscous made this main meal very easy to eat with just a fork.
A Thai Delite $13.50
A duet of baked cassava fudge, coconut black rice pudding and fresh mango slices.
Some of us ended our meals with dessert. Allie got the Thai delite. It reminded me of Thai sticky rice with mango. But They used black glutinous rice instead so it also evokes memories of Malaysian pulot hitam dessert in me. I wished I had a taste of the baked cassava fudge. On a side note, seeing the word “delite” on the menu irks me, lol.
Cherry Chocolate Pudding $13.50
With maraschino liqueur flavoured mascarpone cream. Variety changes.
I can’t remember who got this dessert, I think it was Bel and Georgie. They loved it. I had a small taste and industriously noted down that it was a chocolate fondant without a molten centre. Haha!! That, my dear fatbooo, is probably exactly what a chocolate pudding is! I’m such a baking novice. :D.
Soy Almond Panacotta $13.50
Melt in your mouth, almond organic soy milk panacotta, fragrant orange coulis and caramelised almonds
CE loves a good panacotta and ordered this. She couldn’t eat it. The texture was too grainy and tasting tofu in a panacotta just wasn’t what she was expecting. So she let me have the whole dessert.. score!!
To me, it was delicious because the panacotta was very light and refreshing and not too sweet. I was fine with the grainy texture and actually loved the light and cleansing taste of tofu. Also, the almondy hint of semolina in the panacotta added another dimension to the flavour. I thought the orange coulis was not really needed to complete this dish and actually swept the sauce to one side. Now that I look at it, I probably liked this dessert because it tasted like a fusion twist of tau fu fa (Chinese soyabean custard).
Sri Muka Cheesecake $13.50
Sri Muka means light up your face in Malay. Sensual pandan flavoured coconut mascarpone cheesecake with a short biscuit base and a dot of kahlua coconut syrup.
I was so damn busy taking pictures of everybody else’s dessert that I forgot to take a picture of mine! My workmates laughed as I fussed around with this half-eaten piece of cake. Trying to make it look photographically sexy. Lol!
I was very excited about the green tinge to my slice of cake. Somehow, colourful desserts feel more fun to eat. And pandan cheesecake sounded like a flavour combination that I simply had to try. Sadly, I could not really taste the pandan flavour in the cheesecake and to be frank, I thought the mascarpone cheese tasted a little bit sour, like off milk.
To sum it up, I think Shakahari has got quite a few nice inventive takes on vegetarian food with surprising twists to it. This could be why the restaurant has existed for almost two decades already. I had a great time with my colleagues, even if some of them could’ve been more punctual. I hope we will have more of these eating expeditions together. They’re great outings that also allows fatboo to document a much larger slice of a restaurant’s menu.
Read here to find out about an enigmatic and mysterious vegetarian meal at White Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant.
View Map Of Reviews in a larger map
Shakahari Vegetarian on Urbanspoon