The name of this restaurant is “Super Normal”, but the sake and food that they serve is far from ordinary at all. It’s very unique. There’s no doubt that Melbourne is the food capital of Australia for you will find sophisticated and unique Asian fusion cuisine in this restaurant.
Beloved by locals
It was 18:30 on a weekday when I visited Super Normal without a reservation, thinking it wouldn’t be packed, but I was surprised that it was. It was full of local people and I had to wait an hour to get in.
Inside, the restaurant is wide and has many seats. The interior décor is simple but sophisticated like metallic tables with wooden chairs, low lighting with warm candles, and flowers in different nooks.
Special Sake menus
They serve rare sake even hard to find in Japan. For example, they have Natsu no Omoide, which is made in 2000, 16 years aged. There is also vintage sake, just like wine or whiskey. This particular vintage sake tastes of almonds, apricots and a scintillating acid line. It also has umami, a complex savory taste, in spades.
I ordered Komagura ($11/90ml) and Daichi ($14/90ml), both from Fukuoka, the southern part of Japan. Both taste light and dry. Komagura is a saline style that blossoms into savory with rice brain notes on the palate. Daichi is a white pepper and malt with a soft silky finish.
They serve sake in wine glasses, which is good for enjoying its aroma. They poured sake in front of me from a bottle, just like pouring wine. If I didn’t tell you it was sake, you would think this is just like white wine, right?
Very unique Asian fusion cuisine
I ordered three dishes and all of them were completely new to me.
Marinated mushrooms, yuzukosho & silken tofu ($16) was soy sauce-based that tasted familiar to me, but at the same time, it’s different. The marinated mushrooms were sour and strong enough to change the traditional Japanese cuisine that I know.
I felt like I was eating western cuisine even if it is based on Japanese cuisine. It’s because despite the changes, it still tastes familiar to the original dish, and I drank sake in a wineglass.
White cut chicken, tofu dressing, cashew, noodles & chilli ($18) used Namplar. It is delicious, but didn’t go well with the sake I ordered. The smell of Namplar is too strong and overpowered the sake’s aroma. It would go well with stronger-flavored sake like the aged sake I mentioned earlier.
Pan roasted whole flounder, burnt butter, potato & saltbush ($35) was sweet and sour. At first, I couldn’t guess what this sauce was made of. It was completely new and strange for me, so I asked one of the staff for its ingredients. She said it was made from only yuzukosho and butter. Those two ingredients are familiar to Japanese, so I was so surprised that they can make it taste different.
It’s aromatic but the flavors aren’t too strong, so I enjoyed eating it with the sake I ordered.
The selection of sake: Excellent
Japanese-style food: Not enough (But the Asian fusion-style food is excellent!)
Because this restaurant is very popular and mostly crowded, the entire staff looked so busy and wasn’t conscious of other customers. But once they noticed, they were very kind and gave recommendations on sake and food pairing. Everything that I ordered was a bit too salty, but they would be good to enjoy with alcohol.
On another note, I asked the meaning of this restaurant’s logo, which looks like cherries, or eyes that look like cherries. And I was told it was “because Japanese like cherries”. Well…most of us like cherry blossoms, but not all of us like cherries…Enough said.
Location: 180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia
Open: Sun – Thu 11am – 11pm / Fri – Sat 11am – Midnight