Last October, brothers Tze-Huei and Chewie Choo opened James & Antler, a kiosk specialising in croque madame, a toasted sandwich with ham, Gruyere and bechamel, topped with a fried egg. The concept, which quickly went viral on social media, was born due to the croque being their most popular dish at their first cafe, Mitch & Antler. Now the pair are veering away from French ingredients, focusing on Japanese dishes and their less-is-more cooking approach.

Supernova is a “concept inspired by travel”, Tze-Huei tells Broadsheet. “When we lived in Hong Kong, we’d travel to Japan often, [so] a Japanese cafe has been in the works for some time.”

The Choo brothers have taken on the art of the sando, something that has been in Brisbane for a while, says Tze-Huei. “We wanted to strip it back and try not to be affected by trend. When it was first created in the 1930s, it was just bread, meat and sauce.”

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Supernova offers a variety of sandos: classics like the katsu chicken, tamago mayo, pork cutlet, and Black Angus; as well as less conventional options like spicy tuna (canned tuna and togarashi pepper) and the Supersando – a $75 Wagyu beef, caviar and gold-leaf extravaganza that’s better suited for a special occasion than a speedy lunch.

The sandos share the limelight with soba – buckwheat noodles served in a miso and shoyu broth – which are served solo or with protein accompaniments such as tuna, beef tataki, vegetable tempura, or crispy-skinned barramundi.

“We wanted to do something that wasn’t ramen,” Tze-Huei says. “The sauces and broth are the heroes so we had our chef really learn how to understand and use soy and broth as well as how to get crumbing right.”

As for drinks, there’s coffee made with Providore and Co’s Kasa beans, ceremonial-grade matcha, and hojicha, a roasted green tea. Supernova is also riding the strawberry matcha latte wave – its version has a dash of Yakult and a fresh strawberry mix. It also has matcha soft serve and various “canned” cakes for dessert on the go.

Supernova – Sando and Soba
Ground Floor, 89/91 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley
No phone

Mon to Fri 7am–2pm