Vegan and the Vine with Yalumba at Shakahari Restaurant

The Shakahari is a restaurant we would recommend including in an eating tour of Melbourne. Tuesday night saw us take a trip into Carlton to sample eight wines from the long established Yalumba winery matched with vegetarian and vegan dishes produced by the highly acclaimed Shakahari vegetarian Restaurant.

Kim Beh Un, executive chef and co-owner, shares the same birthday with me. He is a few years older, but considerably more talented in the kitchen (but then, my main calling in life is not in the culinary field). On Tuesday night, Kim produced an imaginative array of dishes to accompany the Yalumba wines.

Leon and I were privileged to have been able to be present while winemaker Louisa Rose described the wines and Yalumba’s own vintage and ancestry in wine making. Ms. Rose was named Winemaker of the Year by the Gourmet Traveler Wine magazine in 2008 and has topped the list of the 10 Best Australian Winemakers as voted by her peers. She readily admitted that she is not a vegetarian, but thought that Shakahari produced dishes that were well matched foods to her wines which, she says, contain hints of Asian spices and fruit.

Below is a listing of what we tasted and our comments.


    Demitasse of silken tofu, oyster mushrooms in a mild lemongrass vinaigrette.

    Yalumba Y Series Vermentino 2014

The Vermentino is a result of Yalumba’s experiments with different types of grapes which can cope with climate change and the resultant hotter summers and drier weather. Apparently the grape also goes by the name of Favorita in a part of Italy and is reputed to have been cultivated since the fourteenth century.

The demitasse is a shock to the system, being possessed of contrasting textures in the chewy mushrooms, soft silken tofu with a fibrous vinaigrette which is at once spicy hot, tart and sweet.


    Gyoza Chia
    Steamed, individually pinched gyoza of green kale, sweet corn and chia seeds topped with raw daikon, cucumber curls and green seaweed, laced with thickened galangal tamari.

Vegan and the Vine - Gyoza

    Avocado Magic
    Avocado wedges and green capsicum rolled in thin eggplant slices then tempura-fried in a rice batter and served with a sesame coriander puree (non dairy, gluten free).

Vegan and the Vine - Avocado in rice batter

    Yalumba organic Viognier 2014
    Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2013

The gyoza was accompanied by textured, tasty vegetables and seaweed, in a range of colours and tastes which are evocative of spring time when plants spring up in verdant green. Galangal can be a strong flavoured root vegetable and the restraint in using this ingredient produced a delicious galangal-tamari sauce. The Avocado Magic is a long established dish, deserving of its many fans for its delicious crunchy batter and creamy avocado filling which is contrasted with a tart coriander sauce.

Both Viogniers were delicious. Yalumba is said to have pioneered the growing and making of the Viognier in Australia since 1980.

Louisa explained that both wines were made using very similar methods but the organic Viogner has been certified organic after much intense and formal assessment of the way in which the wine is produced. It is described as having aromas of fennel and apricot nectar, with jasmine and curry leaf joined by star fruit with a creamy, rich and long mid palate with Asian five spice on the finish.

The Eden Valley Viognier, one of Yalumba’s top selling wines around the world, is, to my taste more earthy and hearty and absolutely delicious


    Quinoa Croquettes
    Crunchy croquettes of yam, dark quinoa, buckwheat, macadamia nuts and diced vegetables. It was served with kim chee and a mild chilli onion wasabi puree (gluten free)

    Vegan and the Vine - Croquettes

    Marrakech Express
    Couscous cooked with a mixture of dark olives, sun-dried tomatoes and pistachio nuts served with an assortment of baked colourful vegetables.

    Vegan and the Vine - Cous cous

    Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2013
    Yalumba Anderson Grenache 2008
    Yalumba organic Shiraz 2013
    Yalumba Paradox Shiraz 2010

At this point in the evening, I started to flag and had to pass my wines to Leon after a sip or two. Just as well as this enabled me to drive us both home safely.

Of the four red wines for tasting, my favourite was easily the Anderson Grenache which has a vibrant colour and flavor. Yalumba has some of the oldest Grenache vines in the Barossa, making its wines from grapes harvested from vines planted in 1898. The Bush Vine Grenache is described as a lively and expressive wine with, amongst other flavours, Asian spices.

The organic shiraz has very low levels of sulphur, which should appeal to those with sensitivities.

The Paradox is an impressive red wine, created from grape vines in the Barossa, the northern area of which has 200 million year old bedrocks.


    Tofu Caramel
    Tofu caramel with crushed pistachio, toffee and ginger gula Melaka

    Avocado Chocolate “Cheesecake”
    Raw cheesecake with a walnut and date base filled with a mixture of avocado, Calibut chocolate powder, maca powder (‘Peruvian ginseng’), coconut sugar and vanilla bean (Non-dairy, gluten free, raw).

    Yalumba FSW88 Botrytis Viognier 2014

Vegan and the Vine - Two desserts

The Botrytis was simply lovely, created out of grapes which had been bathed in dewy mornings, soft mists and warm sun.

The Botrtyis and the deserts provided a fine finale to a terrific wining and dining experience at Shakahari.

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