14

A Vegan Christmas In July Dinner at Shu, Collingwood

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Shu Restaurant in Collingwood has been at the top of my must-eat list for a while. Every Wednesday evening is dedicated to vegan dining but arghghgh, we’re usually always busy on Wednesday. So I was pretty excited to receive an email from Shu inviting me to a vegan Christmas in July degustation evening on a night I was free.

Specialising in Sichuan cuisine, dishes vary from night to night based on the fresh seasonal produce Shu sources from local suppliers. There’s no set menu for this reason and the meals are seasonal, organic and sustainable where possible. On the Wednesdays, the vegan menu is $45 for shared plates of three courses with nine to twelve dishes.

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

I’d seen plenty of photos of the meals and a few of the space online but walking in, I was rather awestruck by it all. Neon light installations (though not overdone or overwhelming), a wall displaying projected film, art work and sculptures, the beakers used as glasses– everywhere I looked there was something to see and I liked that fun vibe with a real sense of someone’s cheerful personal touch.

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

The guests all sat at a long communal table and much good conversation was enjoyed. When I arrived with Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe, we were first treated to the lovely warmth inside (it was freezing outside and raining) and this drink made with vodka, lychee syrup, Vietnamese mint and lime (I think I’m missing another ingredient). This was put together by one of the guests sitting opposite us and was quite delicious:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Guests were provided with details of what was to be served and first up we had some chilled and raw dishes. In the photo below, from the bottom right to the back, we have the daikon roll of enoki mushroom, Asian herbs and lettuce in spicy soy sauce. There was a lighthearted discussion about how best to eat this in a dainty, elegant fashion. I really liked this, even though I usually avoid enoki mushroom (only because I’m a mushroom wuss and only like the non-weird stuff like button mushrooms). In the middle is silken tofu with beans, sprouts and pickled chilli relish. This had quite a bit of heat but I still enjoyed it. My favourite though was the cucumber, seaweed and soybean skin with spicy tahini and roasted pumpkin seeds. I don’t usually like cucumber but this was great and possibly my favourite of the night:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Next we had, from left to right below, a steamed tofu pocket stuffed with preserved mustard greens and peanuts. This was nice and mellow for me and I want to try my hand at stuffed tofu like this. Usually I’m too heavy handed and end up cutting the tofu to bits. In the middle there are the pan fried shiitaki and cabbage wonton with pickled chilli jam and Chinese vinegar. Honestly some of the nicest wontons I’ve ever had and the chilli jam had the amount of heat I can tolerate easily. At the back there is the crispy beetroot and wood ear roll with a green chilli dip. I’m not the world’s greatest beetroot fan but I loved this and would happily order a whole plate if they were available:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

We had a bit of a pause before the first shared plate came out. I didn’t photograph the entire ‘plate’ but imagine a really long rectangular plate loaded with these pan roasted eggplant rolls with pickled vegetables and roasted cashews. With eggplant dishes like this, I usually feel a bit heavy if there’s a lot of oil involved but I was fine with these and enjoyed them:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Before the eggplant rolls were finished, we had what I think were (according to the list we were given) Home Town noodles. These were flavoured beautifully and a nice cool temperature too which initially was a bit of a surprise as I just assumed they’d be hot. But the cool temperature worked perfectly. Clearly I need more experience with colder noodle dishes but it’s something I’m looking forward to!

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Next we had the crunchy coleslaw tossed with seeds and nuts with a Sichuan pepper infused soy sauce. Yet another dish containing an ingredient I don’t really like much (cabbage) but that I loved. For me that’s a testament to how good the food was, being served ingredients I often avoid but loving them here and being inspired to explore them more:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Because I had enjoyed the enoki mushroom daikon roll, I was not as hesitant when it came to the mixed Asian mushrooms, ginger and fennel stir fried in a sweet soy sauce. Another winner:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

I was starting to feel slightly full by this point but there was more to come. These wok fried seasonal vegetables with dried chilli and Sichuan pepper were another favourite:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

There’s more! The crispy tofu and grilled beanshoots in preserved Pixian bean paste were superb:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

We finished off the evening with a raw avocado cheesecake with blackberry syrup and toasted coconut chips. This is how I like my raw cheesecake, not too sweet. A great ending to a wonderful dinner:

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

Wow, you guys. Everything was great. I’m bummed that I’ve missed out on so many Wednesday vegan nights now that I’ve experienced this, but I’m going to have to make another visit (visits!) a top priority. The food was beautifully presented and the intervals between dishes being brought out were really good too.

Many thanks to Shu for hosting this fabulous evening. Be sure to check out the vegan Wednesdays!

Full disclosure: Shu contacted me to invite me along. On the night we paid for any drinks we ordered, as well as paying an amount of our choosing in to a big money box.

 

Shu Restaurant

147 Johnston Street, Collingwood

http://www.shurestaurant.com/

https://www.facebook.com/eatatshu

Shu are open on Wed-Sun from 6pm to 10:30pm.
Click to add a blog post for Shu Restaurant on Zomato

Shu Restaurant, Collingwood

 

8

Friends Of The Earth and a Stroll Around Collingwood

I had a very early start to the day yesterday and as much as I don’t like waking up at 5:30am, I do love being out alone on crisp clear mornings.  I was waiting for a tram in the city at 7am and although my hands were freezing, I had to snap a pic of Collins Street:

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When I was done with my appointment I had some more errands which took me to Melbourne Central, which is a shopping centre complex (and train station).  I was surprised to see this community garden set up in Melbourne Central, and people were seated against the plants reading or chatting with friends:

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Glad to be out in the fresh (polluted city) air, my next stop was Smith Street in Collingwood:

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A closeup of the poster in the top righthand window made me laugh in a resigned, unhappy way.  Meet our new prime minister:

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I loaded up the Happy Cow app and found that I was around the corner from Friends Of The Earth.  Sweet!

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On offer were a selection of sweet treats such as donuts from Crumbs though I opted for the fine looking cake which was apple and walnut.  The texture was very crumbly but that didn’t stop me, naaaatch:

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I also ordered a soy chai to go with it, which was lovely:

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I wish I had more time to look around Friends Of The Earth (check their website) and I’ll definitely be back:
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Friends Of The Earth is located at 312 Smith Street, Collingwood.  Website here.

2

Lunch at Gluttony It’s A Sin, Collingwood

Husband and I were passing through Collingwood today and as luck would have it, I very recently read about a cafe called Gluttony It’s A Sin and their vegan menu.  There are non vegan items too and I always like a thoughtful vegan menu as it means Husband and I can both find something we like.

The vegan menu has dishes that all cost $17.  The options were (and my memory is faulty here) a Japanese noodle dish, a gnocchi and pan fried veg dish, a portabello mushrooms dish and the coconut veg curry with Indian bread, which is what I ordered:

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Although I’d never eat a curry-rice dish with bread at home,  I have to say this bread was delicious.  I used it to mop up the last bits of the curry.  The curry itself was fine, sweet without being too sweet though admittedly the presence of peas and corn kernels was a bit of a surprise (only because I never put them in my curries.  Peas maybe but definitely not corn).  But not a bad surprise as I very much enjoyed this piping hot curry on a cold Melbourne day.

The layout of Gluttony is just right, spacious enough not to be squished too close to people at the next table.  Staff were friendly and I liked that the music volume was low.  Always a plus in my book as I caaaan’t staaaaand loud music in eateries.

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When we were done it was back to the car and off to finish our errands for the day.

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Gluttony It’s a Sin is located at 278 Smith Street, Collingwood.

7

Sloppy Joes at Las Vegan Cafe

I never knew that sloppy joe referred to food.  Growing up, a sloppy joe was always an item of clothing.  I think it was only a few years ago that I discovered it’s also something you eat.  I always meant to try the food version but it’s not the sort of thing my family go for, so I never bothered.  And to be honest, the idea of a kind of bolognese sauce in a bread bun didn’t appeal much to me either.

Well, the other day I had some business to do in Collingwood and Las Vegan was very closeby so that’s where I went to eat, being a hungry vegan and all.  I’ve been there before and enjoyed my nachos but this time I saw the sloppy joe and knew right away that’s what I’d get.

The cafe was quite full with only one person serving but the atmosphere was laid back.  To be honest though, I was starting to get a little peeved after half an hour when my meal still hadn’t arrived.  It arrived bang on the forty minute mark, with an apology for the delay which was appreciated. I was in a hurry that day too, hence feeling a bit frustrated at the wait.  Behold:

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My sloppy joe and chips sure looked great (in person, not so much in this photo).  Unfortunately the sloppy joe itself was cold.  Now, maybe it’s supposed to be that way, I don’t know.  In which case, I’d prefer the meal be warm.  If it’s supposed to be cold, it’s not something I’d order again.  I’m just not a cold meal person but hey, I put my salads and icecream in the microwave so feel free to ignore me.

Welll.  The sloppy joe tasted awesome.  The mushroom mince was great and the bun, although a bit too cold compared to the mince, was good and thick and chewy.  The chips were just right too although I’m not a fussy chip person these days.  I was absolutely stuffed.

A word of caution: ask for extra paper napkins.  It’s called sloppy for a reason.  The sauce was running down my hands and one napkin wasn’t enough.  Hell, take a packet of baby wipes or something!  Or maybe it’s just because I’m a sloppy eater.

Despite the delay in getting my order (on a day when I was already frazzled and in a sooky mood I admit) and the temperature of the meal, I’d definitely return.  Las Vegan have some great food and I look forward to trying other items.  When I left, I realised I was charged less than what the menu stated.  Perhaps this was because of the delay?  I don’t know, but I’m definitely going back!

Here are some pics of the drive back home:

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Las Vegan Cafe is located at 22 Smith Street in Collingwood. http://www.lasvegan.com.au/