It’s no secret that chefs Yoshi Yamada and Zeeshan Shah were going to open their own restaurant backed by Jason Hammel, the chef and owner of Lula Cafe — that news was reported back in May. But now there’s a name and an opening timeline for the new modern Indian restaurant planned for Logan Square. The restaurant at 3059 W. Diversey Avenue will be called Superkhana International and they’re shooting to open early next year.
Over the last few years, Shah and Yamada have hosted Bombay Breakdown pop-ups at bars like Long Room, serving a modern version of Indian food that stretches throughout the subcontinent’s diaspora. Likewise, Superkhana won’t be tied to a particular region. The food always paired well with a cold beer or cocktail: items like Indo-Chinese-inspired french fries, a grilled cheese stuffed with paneer, and plenty of other unique sandwiches. Many of them use pao. That may sound like the former Bulls center who was born in Spain. But instead, the bread’s origins are Portuguese. Fat Rice and Proxi are two of the more prominent restaurants that has have recognized the Portugal/India connection via Goa, and Superkhana will do the same.
Hammel is onboard as partner, but he’s letting his friends run the show. He’s the Connecticut native behind Lula — an Eater Chicago 38 restaurant — and Marisol at the Museum of Contemporary Art. He’s been friends with Yamada for two decades.
Another of the pop-up’s more popular dishes is sambar, a veggie lentil stew usually served with the crepe-like dosa. The growing trend for Indian food is to take popular dishes and make them with non-traditional ingredients. Shah and Yamada use squash in their sambar. Though much of the spotlight is on dosa as a stand-in for South Indian dishes, the new restaurant will go beyond that and serve favorites like idli — the pale discs made of fermented lentils, according to the Tribune. Gujaratis won’t be left out as they’ll also serve dhokla, fluffy squares made of chickpeas and fermented batter.
Modern Indian-American restaurants have embraced bar programs. It’s unclear if that’s a way to keep up with younger tastes or if it provides them with another revenue stream. While Devon keeps it traditional, new Indian restaurants across the country are mixing up cocktails such as gin and tonics with turmeric ice cubes and infused liquors. Spiked chais are popular with the yoga pants crowd. Mango Pickle, for example, serves a negroni with black cardamom-infused gin. Look for lots of bubbles at Superkhana, as Yamada told the Tribune that he feels sparkling beverages pair well with their food.
Khana is Hindi for “food” and adding “super” in front of it gives the restaurant’s name a bit of a Bollywood edge. Superkhana looks to be one the city’s most unique Indian restaurants. Stay tuned for more.