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TSU: The Asian Garden of Eden (Restaurant Closed)
TSU, an Asian restaurant located in Achrafieh, takes far eastern cuisine to another level. Serving dishes from Japan, China and the surrounding countries, Tsu left a good impression when I visited it last year. I wanted to try it again...
The first impression is nice. The restaurant is hidden behind a nice looking door. The well-trained waiters are wearing kimonos that reminds me of my martial art lessons at school.
The inner space is a masterpiece while the terrace covered during winter days is a living orchestra of unbearable noise. The echoes are perturbing! It feels like a cafetria... Sounds of plates, noise of high heals, the coffee machine and loud discussions! Oh man, I need a painkiller. Not only that but a grill in the middle of a closed room is a guarantee that your clothes will be haunted with grilling smells.
The place is totally dark. In 2016, with a world based on Internet marketing and food pictures, it's sad not to be able to share.
Now the 50-page menu half of which is filled with photos and the other half with food the real menu. A bit too big but one can't say it's beautifully done and designed. Laser carved wood embracing thick pages of choices divided into different pages for more clearness.
Salads, cold starters, hot starters, tempura, Robata grill, wok, tsu specialities and desserts followed by the Japanese menu. Sashimi, sushi, ura Maki, hoso Maki, gunkan, temaki and several pages of photos. We order first, read the first pages or move to the photos? The menu needs a manual.
With the menu comes another one nylon-covered page with Tsu specialities. This doesn’t fit the place’s style.
The waiter approached to take the order on his mini iPad and uses the screen to help us read the menu in this dark room. Isn't this a good enough sign that you need more lights?
The place is beautifully designed despite al the imperfections. Lines of colors, long tables, two bars, an open space for sushi preparations in an ambiance that blends modernism with style and finesse. A bit industrial, arty and classy.
I recommend you start dinner with their edamame. A broken plate but a very tasty portion of well-cooked edamame sprinkled with salt, cooked to molten level while preserving a faded crunch.
With that, we chose a fine wine to accompany our dinner: Domaine du Cheval Blanc, cuvee grande vigne, Bordeaux.
- The grilled eggplant with spicy sauce is not for the faint at heart but it's surely a must try. Extremely tender, grilled to perfection, molten and well spiced, the two slices of eggplant leave a superb first impression.
- Four balls, breaded and fried, tender crab and a spicy cocktail sauce. Yummy!
- Even though we all know synthetic crab is not even crab, their crab salad is delicious! A bit of mayo, some tobiko, shredded cucumber and that's it. Premium quality.
- Crispy salmon salad served on a bed of crushed ice, two bowls one inside the other with a loaded portion of salmon cubes covered with crisps leaving a light sweetness that makes it different from any salmon salad I've had in town.
- Salt and pepper squid. Mmmm... Fried chunks of squid; they're so good.
- The black cod is a must. Molten like butter, the fish is marinated in its sweet sauce guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
- Now the Temakis: served on a plate the nori leaf is lightly crispy wrapped around a real portion of fish and some firm rice. Just superb.
- The Makis, bravo is the least that can be said; the appropriate temperature, texture and flavors, rolls few have known how to master. These Makis I've always dreamt to eat and very few restaurants in the country understood how to do. It's sushi up to fine dining standards, rolls that's I enjoyed again and again until all the plates were emptied. Bravo for making casual Japanese fine dining.
- Again the maki rolls. Lightly cold, rice is firm and not gooey, the fish is rich and flavorful... It’s simply great.
- Sweet and sour shrimp followed and I loved it.
- Robata shrimp are great...
I'd say that food is excellent... But unfortunately we had to smell the smoke of cigarettes all night, which spoils this refined experience. We ran out straight after dinner without ordering desserts.
- The food is awesome!
- I'm not sure how they do it but even the ginger is different and great.
- Good quality of ingredients.
The illogical mistakes:
- Water glasses remind you of Lebanese restaurants. They don't fit the concept.
- Soy sauce is served in weird bottles. Is it with or without sodium?
- The terrace is fully closed, built with glass and metal, people are allowed to smoke.
- The space is very badly conceived; the noise is unbearable. We were six and could barely hear each other.
- Smoking indoors! Repulsive! They will block your appetite.
- Better order the bill thirty minutes before you decide to leave.
I didn't expect to eat food that good. It makes me sad to encounter such an experience, just because "professionalism" decided to take a break...