Supernormal : 180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD

February 21, 2016 at 11:38 am (Asian, Melbourne CBD) (, , , , )

A heady aroma of spices and caramel signals the arrival of dessert.  Still warm in a cast iron skillet is a moist pudding,  studded with chunks of sweet pear and candied ginger, its deep molasses-brown colouring imparted by gingerbeer that leaves a lingering hum of heat on the palate.  Served with a silky, vanilla-flecked cream, it’s hard to put down our spoons, but for the parfait still calling for our attention.  If there is such thing as a cult dessert (surprisingly yet to be defined in the urban dictionary of this food-obsessed generation), then this is it; the Snickers-bar chocolate, peanut and caramel formula, re-imagined as an ice cream cake.  It’s a highlight of the meal, which is a big call given a menu that, in true Andrew McConnell form, does not miss one step.

Supernormal - Ginger Pear Pudding

Supernormal - Peanut Butter Parfait

Taking the baton from Golden Fields, Supernormal’s Japanese/Korean/Chinese inspired menu is one that highlights the versatility of Asian flavours.  It handles subtlety and simplicity without breaking a sweat – cucumber freshens up a classic tuna/avocado pairing, with fried saltbush for that kick of salt, while silky sheaths of firm sea bream need nothing more than white soy and ginger – then expertly turns up the flavour dial with juicy, chicken-prawn dumplings doused in smokey chili oil, and intense, plum-dressed roast duck.  It’s also got addictive snacks in abundance; we would not be the first to completely overdo it on sweet, fried rice cakes after first filling up on tamari-baked seeds (a.k.a. umami flavour bombs).

Supernormal - Seeds

Supernormal - Tuna Avo Cucumber Saltbush

First-time visitors may be inclined to stick to familiar territory; dumplings or bao, they’re all good.  The banquet does the thinking for you, stepping through the most popular items, including white cut chicken and wombok salad (if only they could bottle that sesame dressing), the famous, Golden Fields lobster rolls and, of course, that peanut butter dessert number.  A main course of tender, slow-cooked lamb shoulder is served in rather generous portions, making this, at $65 a head, a great value option.

Supernormal - White Cut Chicken Salad

Supernormal - Lobster Roll

Those who venture outside the well-worn favourites might be rewarded with golden-fried sticky rice cubes (arancini, Japanese-style), tossed with sweet soy mushrooms, or maybe crispy-skinned pigeon if it happens to be on the specials list.  Do defer to the knowledge of the staff if you just can’t choose.  They are also best placed to help you make the most of an extensive drinks menu, featuring mostly Australian and European wines, a good range of sake and shochu, along with a two-page whisky selection.

Supernormal - Mushrooms Rice Cake

Dining at Supernormal is a relaxed affair, helped along by a bright, airy, Scandi-Japanese fitout.  Katakana light-box signage, Pocky vending machine and cute Japanese table accessories add some quirky character to the sleek, minimalist space.  Best seats in the house are likely to be at the long steel bar, offering a view to the kitchen.  Unless, of course, you are one to succumb to severe cases of food envy.

Supernormal - Dining Room

Supernormal -SuNo

Supernormal - Entrance

Supernormal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Night Noodle Markets 2015

November 22, 2015 at 11:15 am (Melbourne CBD) (, , , , , , , , )

The Night Noodle Markets are back for The Age Good Food Month and 2015 is bigger and better than ever.  50 vendors have set up shop across three sites at Birrarung Marr, with favourites like Gelato Messina, Chin Chin and Wonderbao rubbing shoulders with an all-star line-up of newcomers, including Din Tai Fung and the much-anticipated Hawker Hall.  Between Hawker Hall’s debut, Black Star Pastry’s watermelon cake and international star-power a la Big Gay Ice-cream and Momofuku, get ready for a serious case of FOMO.

Unsurprisingly, franken-foods are the order of the day; think nori tacos and ramen burgers, with Melbourne’s favourite hazelnut spread joining the fray in dumpling form.  Topping the list of have-to-eats is the bao-ger.  This Messina/Wonderbao brainchild delivers a golden fried gua bao (much like your fried mantou buns for chilli crab lovers), filled with gelato and smothered in sweet sauce.  The Bao Chicka Bao Bao is all peanuts and chocolate-y goodness, while David Bao-wy’s coconut, white chocolate and mango combination offers a ‘lighter’ (yeah right) option.  Pre-dinner dessert is seriously a good option if you want to avoid the Instagram crowds.  (In my humble opinion, bao makes a much better accompaniment for savoury foods because it adds just a bit of sweetness to the mix.  It’s a bit swamped by all the sugar in these sweet versions, but this is probably still one to tick off the list.)

Noodle Markets 2015 - Bao-gers

All the standard street food faves are back for dinner; Thai noodles, dumplings, pho in a cup for ease of consumption (genius), rice paper rolls, deep fried things, and no food market would be complete without satay.  A few more Indian options are a welcome addition, including Delhi Street’s pani puri and curry or noodle-filled, crispy dosa by Overdosa.

Noodle Markets 2015 - Satay


Noodle Markets 2015 - Dosa

As usual, seating is at a premium, there will be queues and expect to fork out good cash to fill up.  But it’s summer in Melbourne, the food is tasty and the atmosphere buzzing, so make sure you check it out before the market packs up at the end of the month.




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