Superkhana International isn’t your auntie and uncle’s Indian restaurant, and chefs Zeeshan Shah and Yoshi Yamada are ready to serve Chicago dishes (like a butter chicken calzone) which, as Yamada puts it, represent a “natural merging of culture and culinary pleasures.” The much anticipated restaurant officially opens Tuesday night in Logan Square.
The restaurant is the byproduct of years of pop-ups which were positively received. Some of the items, like dhokla, are holdovers from Bombay Breakdown. But with a full kitchen, the chefs are ready to showcase more. Much of it is first-generation desi food, a descendent of the “survival food” that South Asian immigrants created after arriving in America.
The space, designed by Charles Vinz (Parachute), features different fabrics and textures associated with the subcontinent. There’s light woods, bursts of color, and neon that gives that space a new identity at night. They are nods to Bollywood but it’s not over the top. A curtain could be pulled dividing the rear dining room and turning that into a private event space. The squared courtyard in back has fans on the side that buzz overhead.
The courtyard will also be welcoming to those who aren’t hungry. There’s plenty of sparkling wines and cocktails. One highlight is an Old Fashioned that uses ghee-washed bourbon. Shah and Yamada felt bubbles go well with spices in their food, and there’s a fun sparkling wine list. Non-alcoholic drinks, like lassi, will also be available. Traditionalists may enjoy Shah’s chai which servers bring out in glasses with old-school chai carriers.
Yamada grew up in New York and is Japanese and Italian. He journeyed to Mumbai to study street food on a Fulbright Scholarship. While cooking in aunties’s kitchens, his biggest takeaway, he said, was how little he knew about the culture. It served as a motivator to absorb and learn about Indian cuisine.
Superkhana’s menu is full of small plates and riffs on Indian classics. The food isn’t full of heat, but staff will bring out extra jalapeños if customers want them. There’s a pork belly vindaloo that features moist meat sitting in a red sauce with champagne vinegar. Using a pizza oven, the calzone isn’t the only pizza-like item. The chili-cheese naan is pizza in disguise with cheese melted outside. Normally it would come stuffed with cheese. There’s also a korma meatball pizza.
Shah grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and is also biracial. His father is Indian, and Shah would visit India and try various street items. He’d also visit the South Asian restaurants on Devon in Chicago to try more. But when he met Yamada, it really drove the point home that he was seeing India through his father’s lens, and that there was more to explore.
Together, with the guidance of James Beard Award-nominated chef Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe), they’re out to surprise Chicagoans and give the city a unique and playful restaurant. Check out the space below. It’s nestled in a stretch of Logan Square that includes Fat Rice, Lost Lake, Masa Azul, and Cellar Door Provisions.
Superkhana International, 3059 W. Diversey Parkway, open 5 p.m. on Tuesday to Saturday.