Four Pillars of Fusion Success
“Andri is not just a host, just a manager, just a chef. He’s not just a menu designer; he’s not just a restaurant designer. He’s all of that!” stated Daniel Hart, the architect designer of Su Tei, a unique Asian blend of four cuisines—Thai, Hibachi, Indonesian and Sushi.
Andri Purwanto (although most folks just call him Andri), is the driving force behind one of Charleston West Virginia’s most successful and unique dining experiences. Whether it is grabbing a drink after work to business lunch over sushi, to scheduling a private room family dinner, Su Tei leaves its guests with the WOW! factor.
From the moment guests step through the doors they are mesmerized with high style and Asian influences. Beautiful white upholstered deco-style booths edge the room, which includes a calming fountain, beautiful architectural elements and a stunning uptown bar - all designed to provide a memorable and lasting impression.
For many diners the interior is a surprise as it previously served as a Ponderosa Steakhouse and a Block Buster video before Andri had the vision of what is it today.
“We drove around this area one day and found this building so I had asked the owner to show me the inside, “Andri explained. “It was a blank open space. I told him (Daniel) that we were going to do a fancy restaurant that has water inside and make it more of a metropolitan style. Charleston doesn’t have these kinds of restaurants.”
A transplant to the region, Andri has managed five restaurants previously in New York City and brings that big city dining mentality with him. His focus is holistic in providing high quality food, entertainment, atmosphere and customer service. Indonesian roots drive him to deliver this experience with the freshest available ingredients such as fish and vegetables delivered from North Carolina, Virginia and New York.
“The chef and I had originally wanted Tai food, Asian specialty food and sushi," he said. "But we added hibachi because we wanted to try four different concepts of food - something that no other restaurant offers in Charleston.” Something that no other restaurant in West Virginia offers for that matter.
Those four pillars have proven successful as the restaurant morphs from a popular lunch place to full service dinner to after-hours entertainment featuring local musicians.
Andri acquired his love of the restaurant life at an early age.
“My mom, when I was young - about 15 or 16 years old - had a store. Not like a big restaurant like this so I always helped out in various positions. I always liked food and architecture and was fascinated with the influence atmosphere had on the dining experience,” he said. “I told my mother that one day my dream to own a restaurant would happen.”
And so it has. For first-time diners, he recommends a chicken teriyaki and his yum-yum roll. “Our yum-yum rolls are creamy and crunchy and it gets people to fall in love with sushi who have never had it before.” Other popular items include Holly Basil, a plethora of curry dishes and a perennial favorite, Pad Thai. Most dishes are customized with chicken, duck, beef, seafood or tofu.
Music officiandos love Su Tei on Monday nights when David Lloyd of Detroit fills the room with cool jazz.
Asked about his personal favorite dish on the menu, Andri said, “Asian people like spicy. My favorites are all of the curry’s here. I like the spicy green curry rice. The other is the butterfly shrimp. Its buttered shrimp with sweet duck sauce inside topped with bell peppers and oyster sauce.”
“Quality control” is a phrase heard often from Andri. “The quality of food, quality of service and the price is like a tripod. If one fails, then the tripod falls down. To open a restaurant is easy but to maintain it is not easy. Quality control of the restaurant is what counts for the manager.”
Getting ready for the summer months, Andri is about to open a patio area with a water fountain for al fresco dining.
For Su Tei restaurant week menu, click here.
Su Tei is located:
5711 MacCorkle Ave. SE
Charleston WV, 25304
Hours: Open at 11 am Monday-Friday; 12 pm Saturday-Sunday; closes at 9 pm Sunday-Thursday; 10 pm Friday-Saturday
Visit Su Tei's website for more information,