What is it?
Equal parts open lab and restaurant, The Urban Harvest serves hydroponically grown mushrooms and sprouts which are nurtured in the restaurant itself. It’s the last stop on Line 7 at the Himalayas Center, but it’s worth schlepping to if you’re interested in hydroponics – or you’re a big mushroom fan.
How does it work?
The philosophy is simple: the restaurant grows its own vegetables, allowing it to save energy because no transportation is required, and serve fresher ingredients. As they only grow mushrooms and sprouts, however, The Urban Harvest isn’t really a full-fledged locavore restaurant.
What’s the top order?
Make sure to try the oyster steak mushrooms (98RMB), doused in black truffle oil, with pepper, a pinch of salt and peels of parmesan on top. The best part is that they cut the white flowery fungi right off their stems in front of you, and then they even give you a plant to take back home along with instructions on how to keep them growing back. These mushrooms pair well with a light portion of their homegrown sprouts (35 RMB) simply tossed with pickled ganlan (Chinese kale). Apart from the Western menu, there’s a selection including an East-meets-West shrimp dish, deep-fried, smeared in citrus aioli, with pine nuts and sesame seeds speckled on top. The cooking of the shrimp is executed perfectly; crispy on the outside and tender inside (58 RMB).
What’s the verdict?
The Urban Harvest might be more of a show than true activism, but their hydroponic system is a valuable tool for reducing pollution and growing locally. If you’re willing to take the trip (hopefully by environmentally-friendly transportation), it’s worth the ride, and you’ll come home with a mushroom plant for creating your own ‘zero mile’meals.