120 High Street Northcote, Australia 3070
|Opening hours||Wed-Fri & Sun, 11.30-4pm; Sat, 11.30-4pm & 6pm-8pm|
|Payments||AMEX, Mastercard, Visa|
|Phone||0403 569 019|
Would you pay $26 for "the Ultimate" smoothie? It's hardcore health-in-a-glass, a powerhouse concoction of 15 superfood herbs designed to help heal and rejuvenate body and mind and promote youth and longevity. It's a signature at Shokuiku, the seven-month-old organic raw food and living food cafe run by Japanese-born blogger Yoko Inoue.
It lands on the communal wooden table, a chocolate-brown brew made from coconut water, coconut meat and hemp seed, whizzed up with zeolite (Inoue says most toxins have a positive charge, but zeolite is negative so it attracts the toxins like a magnet), fulvic acid (a powerful antioxidant), Indian herbs (for boosting energy), a blend of 14 medicinal mushrooms, kamu kamu (loaded with vitamin C) and more. "It's really cutting edge," she says.
Texturally, it's gritty and milky, sweet but with bitter, medicinal undertones. It's intense. For the rest of the day, there is a noticeable upswing in my energy.
Translated from Japanese, Shokuiku means "food education", and it's the core of this chilled cafe. "It's a place to learn," says Inoue, who has studied macrobiotics and holistic nutrition, doesn't drink coffee or alcohol, and talks about food as a philosophy. "It's about being in tune with your body," she says. "I am hooked on the energy it gives me."
At Shokuiku, only filtered water is served; nuts and seeds are activated (soaked in salted water to stimulate enzymes; the science geeks still won't say whether this works or not); and the sweeteners are all natural.
Lunches are simple and organic - three daily salads, "plus something from the dehydrator". I ate broccoli soused in zingy strawberry and fig balsamic dressing; a vivid, crunchy "coleslaw" of beetroot, cabbage and coriander; and zucchini "pasta" with carrot and leafy greens. They were made extravagant with a dob of rich cashew "cream", delish dehydrated buckwheat and vegie pops, and cakey macadamia and cashew balls. The salads are first-rate, bright and brimming with life, but there are only three so the display cabinet did look a bit sad, despite there being beetroot cheesecake on the top shelf.
Brunches run on Sunday when the big-ticket dish is raw pancakes, made from a dehydrated paste of walnuts, cashews and flaxseed. They are layered with in-season fruit and smooth, plant-based creams, including chocolate made from hazelnuts and coconut sugar. It's one of the most interesting things I've eaten in a while, perhaps too creamy for me - and after a while, too sweet - but if raw food's your thing, you'll love it.
Inoue consulted an energy designer when fitting out the cute, minimalist cafe with its big windows, indoor succulents, and hanging LED lights. "Some people are so busy and they just eat," Inoue says, who reckons "people actually eat more consciously, just being here, experiencing the energy of the food … it sounds really hippy doesn't it?" Yes, it does, but I know what she means. If you want a living, healthy meal, Shokuiku is the place.
Cuisine Raw food
Do … try the teas or take home some superfoods
Don't … know how to "cook" raw food? Shokuiku runs classes on dehydration and chocolate
Dishes … Raw pancakes and ''the Ultimate''
Vibe … Mellow, chilled and cutting-edge health
Prices … Small/large plates, $10/$15; brunch, $9.50-$15; mains, $20; drinks, $3.50-$26