THE owner of a Melbourne cafe says the activated charcoal fish and chips dish on her menu is extremely popular, despite some customers telling her it looks like "something you'd see at the bottom of a toilet".
Social media has lit up today with images of the $19 dish from Port Melbourne's Long Story Short cafe, which comes with beetroot labneh, chips and salad.
"I'm sure it tastes great but looks very unappealing to eat, I wouldn't eat it based on that, it looks like a burnt poo on a plate," one commenter wrote on the cafe's Instagram account.
Another commenter wrote: "Despite how it tastes, it looks terrible. And the health benefits of the addition of activated charcoal would be negated by the cooking process, the fats and oils in the food."
Others said "that looks like deep fried poo" and described the dish as "a turd on a plate".
The fish batter is made with activated charcoal, is a popular health food ingredient renowned for its cleansing, purifying and detoxing properties.
Japanese women have been using it for centuries in their skincare routines, but lately it's become a trendy "superfood", sold in tablet or powder form and is often mixed with water or in a smoothie.
Long Story Short owner Ly Nguyen said while her cafe had received lots of negative comments on social media, the dish was selling well.
"People are saying 'This looks like something you'd see at the bottom of a toilet', but in saying that, the response has been phenomenal. We get loads of people coming in to order the dish, so we knew we had to stick it out," Ms Nguyen told news.com.au.
"We wanted to incorporate fish and chips into our menu, but we don't do standard dishes. We always like to have a twist to our dishes ... that's one of our points of difference," Ms Nguyen said.
"It tastes like regular fish and chips, it's nice and crispy on the outside. We use all premium products. We don't compromise on quality. We support local suppliers ... you get what you pay for.
"If you look, there are a lot of negative comments. Some of them are very hurtful as well, but we notice hundreds of people are ordering it. There's a shock factor, but people are intrigued. Everybody who orders it finishes it," she said.
Other items on Long Story Short's menu include a deconstructed souvlaki ($21), a deconstructed fruit salad ($16) and a cold drip coffee tiramisu ($17).