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The first thing you notice, as you push through the hanging noren curtains, is that this place still FEELS like Supernormal. Sure, the space is smaller. It’s a little moodier, more intimate, designed to appeal to a slightly edgier crowd. But those Supernormal bones are there. That combination of concrete, blonde timber, black metal and cutie-pie branding.
Supernormal Canteen is Andrew McConnell’s new St Kilda venture, but it’s also the pop-up that started the Supernormal sensation, way back in the summer of 2013/14. McConnell used it as a testing ground for what would eventually become Supernormal, experimenting with menu ideas, perfecting his now infamous lobster roll. Now the Canteen has been resurrected where Luxembourg once stood, on Fitzroy St.
As you’d expect from McConnell, it’s an incredibly slick operation.
Like Supernormal proper, Canteen is styled around pan-Asian share plates and kooky little oddities. Fish-shaped taiyaki pancakes, stuffed with ice-cream and custard. Mussels and clams, doused in XO sauce. Typhoon-style school prawns, covered in crispy batter debris, more munchable than popcorn. A few mainstays have made the journey to St Kilda, including the duck leg bao and (of course) the lobster rolls—everything else is brand new.
Of course, Canteen’s hero is the bona fide charcoal yakitori bar: a smoky hell pit straight out of Memory Lane in Tokyo. You can get char-grilled Clarence River prawns, duck hearts (for the brave) and chicken (both thighs and tsukune-style meatballs) served with a sweet soy dipping sauce and a floating egg yolk. New digs, same Supernormal flair.
Image credit: Supernormal Canteen