I have been meaning to blog a review of Collingwood’s Shu Restaurant for a very long time. I have been twice now and have been completely wooed by Shu’s Sichuan flare. But I have been a total photogaffer. In both cases I forgot my SLR, a cardinal sin in food blogging, especially in a dimly lit, stainless steel furnished restaurant such as Shu. My hopes of returning to fill my tummy with more fiery delights and nab some blog-worthy pics have not been realised unfortunately. So, here we go. Forgive the images friends. Won’t cha? Diamond geezers you lot, I tells ya.

Despite never feeling confident about which way to spell it, Sichuan is one of my favourite Asian cuisines. The flavours are fresh and intense — not all of the dishes are spicy either but I must admit I quite fancy a good sinus clearing with my tofu. Shu delivers delicious Sichuan dishes with a modern twist and very vegan-friendly service in a quirky, industrial setting reminiscent of the kind of joint you’d find New York fashionistas posing in — complete with sculptures and red LED lighting. It’s all a bit glamorous really.

But the best thing about Shu is Shu. It’s his restaurant and his food and you can tell he is passionate about his baby. On both occasions he went out of his way to ensure my vegan version of the Shu experience was one to remember. He’s an affable chap and he is happy to explain the composition of dishes and offer suggestions based on your tastes — and when he asks how you are enjoying your meals he is genuinely interested in the answer. The other highlight is their focus on using seasonal and mostly organic produce, meaning the menu is no longer fixed but you can be sure you’re getting dishes designed with the best local produce in mind.

For my second round of Shu I enjoyed a fresh and tangy Asian herb salad, intensely flavoured enoki mushrooms with loads of chilli and spring onions, cooling lightly pickled vegetables and my favourite, crispy kipfler potatoes with garlic and Sichuan peppercorns. The meal was balanced, it was exotic and it was all washed down with a vegan-friendly wine. A thoroughly enjoyable experience. Totally undeserving of the dodgy iPhone documentation below.

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Vegan options: Shu is happy to suggest a number of vegan options or vegetarian dishes that he can veganise for you
The wet stuff: there was one bottle of vegan-friendly white when I went but apparently he has lengthened the cruelty free tipple list since then
Moola: the food and wine came to around $50 per head
Ear candy: I can’t remember but I feel like anything other than house would feel out of place

Have you checked out Shu yet? Any other great vegan-friendly Sichuan spots?

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