photo credit: Sandy Noto
After watching three packed trains leave Merchandise Mart at rush hour, you’re finally able to cram onto one with enough space for someone about half your size. And since you forgot your headphones at the office, all you can think about is how your boss looked right at you when she talked about the exciting opportunities at the satellite office in Nebraska.
But even if you walk into Superkhana International - an Indian restaurant in Logan Square - feeling like a spiky ball of anxiety, at some point you’ll smooth out. Maybe it’ll be when the Jenga tower of crispy, thick-cut french fries drizzled with savory aioli and sweet Manchurian sauce comes to the table. Or when you head to the bathroom and hear “Waterfalls” by TLC on repeat, which finally dislodges the words “Omaha nightlife” from your brain. Eventually, Superkhana will pull you out of your own head so you can enjoy yourself.
Superkhana’s menu is full of surprises. There’s that french fry Manchurian, or a Bombay sandwich filled with sliced beets, potato chips, and onions, and served with a tangy ketchup sauce for dipping. Bring a few friends, and you’ll start forgetting about whether Nebraska has any professional sports teams when you’re all talking about the giant pieces of fried naan that came out with the creamy eggplant dip, and how the vada pao (fried potato in between soft rolls) are like textural Russian nesting dolls.
We’d recommend you focus on the smaller share plates, as the larger entrees don’t always work as well. The sliced coconut brisket comes with delicious jus, but we wish there were more than one small pao to soak it all up. And the butter chicken supreme - a giant naan calzone - is fun to pull apart, but isn’t as interesting as other dishes on the menu. Even if you make an ordering misstep, it won’t feel like a real mistake, since nothing is over $20 - and the best stuff on the menu is closer to $10.
For the most part though, Superkhana keeps you focused on the fun stuff: the spritzer menu (with six different types of bubbly cocktails), the many different floral prints you’ll spot all over the dining room, and the excellent combination of rice cakes with spicy chana broth. And at least for a couple hours, you’ll stop frantically trying to come up with ways to avoid a move to Nebraska. That said, we do have a friend from Omaha who says it’s a great place to raise a family.
French Fry Manchurian
This is an outstanding pile of thick-cut, crispy french fries topped with scallions, sesame, aioli, and sweet Manchurian sauce - and a good example of something your friend who turns old vinyl LPs into clocks would serve at a party.
Dhokla & Corn
The dhokla are soft and spongy cakes made out of chickpeas and rice, and topped with sweet corn and savory aioli - you should get an order of these to start.
Smashed Baigan & Naan
This is a creamy eggplant spread with a spicy chile oil base, and sweet pepper-onion confit on top. The naan that comes with this is fried and fluffy and reminds us of the inside of an elephant ear (minus the cinnamon-sugar).
Achaari Pork & Vada Pao
These are great little sliders on warm, soft dinner roll buns. The vada pao is a fried potato with chutney, the achaari pork pao is a pulled pork shoulder with tamarind, and you should get one of each.
Chinese Broccoli & Rice Cakes
This has a slightly spicy chana broth, with springy rice cakes that are shaped like Korean tteok.
Coconut Beef Brisket
The tender sliced brisket is served in a rich jus, and topped with coconut flakes and chives. It tastes great, but since it’s one of the more expensive things on the menu, we wish it came with more than one roll.
This isn’t the juiciest chicken we’ve had, but the preparation makes up for it - tangy achaari seasoning, crispy skin, cabbage, and soft, sweet dates.
The menu description for this is a “psychedelic grilled cheese,” and that feels about right. It’s an excellent sandwich of sliced beets and cheese on perfectly crispy bread. You’ll like the dipping sauce if you like ketchup and sweet BBQ sauce, because it falls somewhere between the two.
Butter Chicken Supreme
There’s nothing wrong with this huge butter chicken calzone, but there’s nothing extraordinary about it, either. If you have five people to split this with, go for it, but it’s not a must-order.