Matt Bax, the eccentric founder of Bar Americano, Bar Economico, Bar Exuberante and Der Raum, will open a Japanese teahouse inside Supernormal for two weeks in July.

Samu, as it will be called, will occupy “a small cube” of space inside the restaurant and will operate during lunch and dinner service. It’ll offer Bax’s version of chanoyu – Japanese tea ceremony. “I want to bring true matcha and some of the joys of chanoyu into people’s busy lives,” says Bax. “Fix their head and heart – at least for five minutes.”

In Japan, tea ceremonies are considered a spiritual and transformative practice. Formal events can last for hours. Less formal gatherings are quicker and include tea and sweets. Matcha – considered the highest quality tea in Japan – is almost always used, although occasionally sencha tea is used instead.

At Samu, Bax will offer true, ceremonial-grade Japanese matcha tea (which he says is “world’s apart” from the stuff we normally drink here) and a Japanese sweet, or wagashi. But although he’s taking cues from traditional practices, Bax’s version will be anything but.

“It will be different, that’s all I can say,” he says, mysteriously. “I don’t know of anything like it in the world.”

Bax is no stranger to high-concept operations. His tiny, standing-room-only Bar Americano is inspired by Italian aperitivo and espresso culture. Bar Exuberante – small, windowless and reminiscent of a hotel lobby bar – has a new, hidden waiting room attached, named Cock Alley for the fighting cock paintings that line its walls. It’s tiny and holds six to eight people.

Bax was also behind the much-loved, world-famous Der Raum cocktail bar, which closed suddenly in 2012.

What was once the rum-focused, shabby dive bar Bar Economico (which opened on the site of Der Raum) is being converted into a creative test lab.

Samu will run from July 18 to August 1, 2016.

Supernormal
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
(03) 9650 8688

supernormal.net.au