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Asian cuisine in a cosmopolitan atmosphere

By Judy Hamilton

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- From the moment you enter Su-Tei, a new Japanese and Thai restaurant, you feel as if you are in a restaurant in a different city, one that is at ease with many different cultures -- an international city like New York or Washington, D.C. 

All five senses are immediately engaged: the aroma alluring, the interior beautiful with a large central cascading waterfall, soothing jazz music, a perfect temperature. All that is left is the anticipation of the food you are about to order.

This is exactly what Andri Purwanto said he was aiming for when he designed the recently opened restaurant at 5711 MacCorkle Ave. S.E., near Kroger in Kanawha City. 

Purwanto, a New York City transplant, was helping a friend manage a restaurant in Beckley, when he first visited Charleston with his family. They liked Charleston immediately, but he could not find here a restaurant like the one he said he envisioned -- "upscale and cosmopolitan featuring Asian cuisine."

So he created it.

"I decided 'why not bring a New York City theme to West Virginia?' I designed this myself, including the colors. When people enter, I want them to immediately see the six different areas of the restaurant: the sushi bar, the drinks bar, the fountain area, the private party room, the half moon booths and booths by the windows. I want them to feel like they are someplace more metropolitan," he said.

Purwanto, 37, has managed five New York City restaurants. He worked long hours, leaving little time for his young family. He moved to West Virginia a couple of years ago in hopes of finding a less stressful lifestyle. He said he has not been disappointed. "The people are really friendly. I'm enjoying a lot of nature and no traffic."

"I wanted Kanawha City to have more choices, more variety, so they don't have to leave the area and deal with traffic. Our customers can leave the stress and come to a peaceful environment with music, a waterfall and a menu that allows them to be calm," Purwanto said.

Simona Kolis, a server at the restaurant, said, "We have many customer favorites including the crispy curry duck and Pad Thai. Many of our customers like to take photographs of their food.  We have a 100 percent customer rating at urbanspoon.com."

Robert Elliott, Cheryl Elliott and Stella Hicks are repeat visitors to Su-Tei since it opened last month.  

"This is our second visit. We love it. The food is excellent. The staff is professional," Hicks said.

Robert Elliot was asked if he preferred the Thai or the Japanese menu items. He replied, "Both."

"You get good-sized portions, too. You don't leave hungry, that's for sure. We'll be back," said Cheryl Elliott.

Vegetarians and vegan diners will find that they can eat nearly every menu item. When selecting an entrée, they may choose either tofu or vegetable instead of the meat offerings, which are chicken, steak, shrimp or duck.

Purwanto's said that his menu features the freshest and most flavorful ingredients available because quality is the most important thing to him.

The lunch menu offers bento box specials from $8 to $11.The compartments in the serving box are filled with typical Japanese lunch offerings of rice, noodles. Hibachi lunch specials are $6.50 to $13.50. Lunch sushi combo rolls are any two for $9 or any three for $10.

The dinner menu features 10 appetizers that range from $4 to $6; seven salads $2.25 to $6; eight varieties of soups $2 to $8; 10 choices of Thai fried rice, noodles and curry dinner entrees $11 to $15. Bento box and chef specialties round out the menu at $16 to $28. 

Su-Tei is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar is open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant has live jazz music on Monday and Wednesday evenings and a DJ after 10 p.m. on Saturday. "Ladies Night" is 9-11 p.m. on Tuesday.

For more information about the restaurant, call 304-925-7562.

Reach Judy E. Hamilton at judy.Hamilton@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.


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