Cookin’ with Booze Charleston Restaurant Review: Tu (With Cocktail Pairings)

By Cookin’ with Booze

It’s Restaurant Week everyone (cue cheers)! I use Restaurant Week as an excuse to try new places, even if they aren’t participating. This year, the hot new restaurant Tu was at the top of my list. Tu comes from the culinary masterminds that brought us Xiao Bao Biscuit, so I knew I was in for a treat.  I know you will read a lot of other reviews of this place because it’s hot and new, so I’m going to switch it up and not only review the food, but suggest cocktail pairings with each course I tried.

Crudo Paired with the Destello Verde

 

Before arriving to Tu, I trolled their menu, Yelp, and the minds of fellow foodies to find out what I should order. The first dish I knew I had to try was the crudo. The crudo is a light appetizer featuring raw fish, habanero, guava, and cheese ice. That’s not a typo, I said CHEESE ICE. I don’t even remember what kind of fish was in the crudo because I heard the waiter say cheese ice and got distracted.

This dish was one of the most complex/ tastiest/ most creative dishes I’ve had in my life. The cheese ice (frozen Parmesan cheese) keeps the fish refreshingly cold while adding a salty and nutty flavor. I thought the habanero was going to punch me in the face with spice, but it was sliced so thinly and contrasted so well by the other ingredients that it added the perfect amount of heat.

The cocktail I would pair with this dish would be the Destello Verde, which is, as the waiter described it, “a margarita on steroids.” I love spice and tequila together, so this dish and cocktail are meant to be.

Aguachile paired with Desolation Avenue

For our second course, we went with another raw and refreshing dish, but this time with beef instead of fish (call me Dr. Suess, y’all). The aguachile composed of beef aged in kombu (seaweed), bonito (dried fish) mayo, thin sliced red onion & serrano peppers, and tomatillo water. The kombu gave the beef a salty note, which was complemented by the brightness of the tomatillo water and serrano peppers.

I would pair this dish with the Desolation Avenue cocktail (per the waiter’s suggestion) because the Desolation Avenue cocktail contains barley brine, which would complement the briny flavor of the kombu/ tomatillo water.

Pastrami paired with Coast Hopart IPA

I love that this dish is just called “Pastrami,” as if you’re going to get some pastrami slapped onto a plate. On the contrary, you get a sauerkraut pancake with crispy bits of pastrami, scallions, and topped off with a buttermilk mustard oil. I was a little nervous that the funk of the sauerkraut would take over the dish, but the salty pastrami and zing from the mustard were the stars of the show.

I chose a Coast Hopart IPA to pair with this dish because it’s like drinking a beer with a hot dog on game day; it just makes sense.

Yakitori Special paired with the Slow Gold

Our last course was a special they were having that night: Lamb Yakitori with Drunken Salsa. Obviously, they had me at drunken salsa. Yakitori is a Japanese kebab, so the lamb was skewered and charred to perfection on the grill. The drunken salsa was composed of pumpkin seeds, tomato, chipotle, mezcal (the drunken part), and lime juice.  The chipotle had a pungent spice that was a little too much on its own, but when it was combined with the fattiness of the lamb, the spice was toned down a little bit.

I would pair this dish with the Slow Gold cocktail because it’s the only sweet cocktail on the menu, which would tamp down the spice of the salsa.

calling all Adventurous Eaters!

For all you adventurous eaters out there, Tu is the place to go. The small plate-style of eating is perfect for people looking for a unique dining experience. You could probably go back here every day and have a different experience each time (in a good way). I know I will go back for a different experience, minus ordering the crudo over and over again because I may lose sleep over how tasty that dish was.

Official Tu Charleston Website

Location:  430 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC

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