As soon as you walk into Shiang Hai, a feeling of calm and relaxation ensues. The place is brightly-lit, clean and exudes a general sense of peace and well-being.
With Shiang Hai – which opened a few months ago – HerbaLine Wellness Group is hoping to attract vegetarians and people looking for vegetable-friendly meals with a difference.
“We don’t want to compete with those ordinary vegetarian restaurants – we want to create a trendy, more healthy cuisine. That’s why we are focusing on creating fruit and vegetable sushis – we want to break the perception of traditional vegetarian food, ” says the brand’s deputy general manager Gary Sho.
The fruits and vegetable sushis are the restaurant’s main point of differentiation from other vegetarian restaurants – as each sushi is painstakingly handcrafted using fresh vegetables or fruit and is incredibly attractive to look at.
According to Sho, although the sushis only make up about 10% of the menu, these little rolls are responsible for 60% of the restaurant’s sales.
Start with the mango sushi (RM18) which features fresh ripe mango wrapped around rice, homemade mayonnaise, cucumber, lettuce and crispy beancurd skin. The resulting concoction is fresh and vibrant, offering a good balance of sweet, effervescent flavours that coalesce and form a united, vivacious front.
The banana sushi (RM15) is a bit of an unusual offering that precariously straddles the sweet-savoury divide. The banana slices in the sushi are really quite sweet and this is juxtaposed with the alfalfa in the mixture, which offers a distinct vegetal quality that is altogether quite strong. In short, this yin-yang balance is the sort of offering that is likely to cause quite a few divided opinions.
If you’re a fan of the group’s Mama Kim’s sauna mee, you’ll enjoy the vegetable-adorned miniature version provided in the baby sauna mee (RM18). The nourishing properties of the broth are accentuated by the copious amounts of vegetables in the mixture and once you add the noodles to this amalgamation, you’ll find yourself soothed and sated in equal measure by the comforting elements in this wholesome meal.
Shiang Hai also has a reasonably extensive selection of more mainstream dishes to cater to people more familiar with classic iterations of vegetarian meals. Like the signature Shiang Hai curry (RM22) for example, which features chunky mushrooms laced in a spicy, coconut-milk-enhanced curry. The mushrooms do a great job of standing in for the mock meat which typically accompanies most vegetarian dishes and you’ll find yourself chomping down on large, firm pieces that bear a startling resemblance to actual meat.
The pumpkin tofu (RM16) is another surefire winner that features velvety soft tofu cubes slathered in a smooth, sumptuous pumpkin sauce that is incredibly addictive and warrants repeated eats.
Perhaps the most satisfying comfort food on Shiang Hai’s menu is the petai fried rice (RM18) which has been fried to perfection and really shines a light on the potent pungency of the petai. It’s the sort of meal that you’d happily tuck into whether you’re a vegetarian or not.
Ultimately a meal at Shiang Hai offers the opportunity for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike to either stay in their comfort zones with familiar offerings as well or take a walk on the wild side with more unusual offerings.
“Our goal is for the restaurant to be family-friendly. And within families, you have younger people who might want to try something different like the sushi as well as older people who will probably prefer rice and some side dishes, ” says Sho.
Shiang Hai, Ground floor, Mentari Plaza, Bandar Sunway, 40, Jalan PJS8/2, 46150 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-5621 1016
Open daily: 10am to 10pm