Tu opened up at 430 Meeting Street in 2017 to a crowd of diners anticipating the next project from the group behind Xiao Bao Biscuit. The restaurant is split up into two separate buildings, one of which is a modern dining space featuring a small bar and outdoor patio, while the other portion is set in the first story of a Charleston single family home. After over a year of dazzling diners in the refined space serving inventive small plates with influences that were difficult to decipher, Tu is changing gears.
Restaurateurs Josh Walker, Duolan Walker-Li, and Joey Ryan launched the next iteration of Tu on New Year’s Eve featuring a new Indian menu full of curries, breads, and bold flavors. Tu 2.0 is chef Walker’s way of telling the story of the variance in regional cuisine that’s inevitable in a country India’s size, as subtle changes in ingredients and spice combinations lead to different takes on certain dishes. The change came as a surprise to many fans of Eater Charleston’s Restaurant of the Year, but it’s a project the group has become increasingly passionate about through an extensive research and development phase. Read up before stopping in to see what Tu will look like in 2019.
The New Menu
India offers a globally-influenced cuisine fitting for a group that has done anything but color inside the lines since debuting Xiao Bao Biscuit in 2012. Find dishes like juicy, yogurt marinated chicken tikka along with a variation on the fried spiced-potato appetizer known as Samosa—Tu uses a sweet potato filling and serves with a pear chutney. Patrons can also try a creamy butter curry filled with chicken, cashew, and fenugreek.
What’s Indian Food Without Bread?
Bread is more than just the vessel for sopping up the delicious sauces, chutneys, and raitas at Tu. Take their tender yet crisp chickpea fry bread, which has an exterior crust reminiscent of falafel. Dosa, a fermented rice and lentil crepe, is another doughy option that arrives stuffed with chili paneer and is served alongside a chunky lentil soup-esque sauce called sambhar, providing a complex bite with different textural elements. There’s also naan, of course, with the eatery offering classic and a cheesy garlic variation.
Tu’s a fit for a group of hungry companions who won’t mind a hand reaching across the table for a spoonful of curry to place on their naan. Several of the China plates are near and dear to co-owner Joey Ryan—his aunt offered to send some from his grandmother’s old collection, which they used for the first-time last year when hosting the Food Network’s Alton Brown for his rehearsal dinner.
One Bite That Won’t Be Forgotten
Tu offers their version of Mumbai’s popular vegetarian street snack, vada pav, which is essentially a fried potato sandwich. The soft milk bread, flattened potato patty, and tamarind-coconut chutney form a bite that seamlessly melds the components of the layered-slider, which has some background heat. This signature sandwich may be Tu’s version of the iconic okonomiyaki at Xiao Bao Biscuit, which became a sought-after Charleston dish.
What’s to Drink
At Tu, make way for several types of beverage pairings, an aspect of the menu Tu is still fiddling with. Refreshing sips like funky ciders, sour beers, and cooling cocktails take the place of rich, fruit forward wines that pair well with meat-heavy dishes. This past weekend, Tu offered a drink called the Aloysious Sour, a sweet herbaceous cocktail made up of cola, meletti, amaro, and the popular Indian spice, fenugreek. One non-alcoholic drink to keep an eye out for is the mango lassi, which serves as a cooling accompaniment to the intensely-spiced dishes.
Tu 2.0 debuted to the public last weekend and is now open for lunch (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (5:30 to 11 p.m.) Thursday through Saturday.