Restaurant Tuju is a good sized modern looking place. The large bare wood tables are well spaced on a tile floor with a wood ceiling overhead. They are set with padded arms chairs and lovely cloth napkins. Soft lighting is in the room and music is in the background. An open kitchen is on one end of the room and opposite is a bar. Spanning the two are a glass wall behind which is the plant covered wall opposite to a wall with mirrors. It has a 2 Michelin star rating, has been open 5 years and offers 2 different tastings for 5 or 12 courses. The menu changes every several months. Wine pairings are available. We chose the longer tasting and ordered our own wines. The staff were efficient, friendly and spoke good English.
We started with a negroni cocktail while we settled in.
Pumpkin chips were topped with peas and tangerine. The delicate crisp chip was accented with wonderful fresh peas, bits of tangerine and herbs. It was several terrific bites.
A nasturtium leaf was covered with corn and Brazilian crab. The nice crab mixed well with the corn for a simple dish done really well. They brought out one of the crabs for us to see. A good mix of fine ingredients was followed up with a moist cloth to wipe your hands.
Tiny shrimp from the river were in a bowl with avocado, cucumber and citrus. Some ceviche style bigger shrimp from the sea were in the bottom. The little ones had been fried to add a good crunch to the dish and the nice acidic broth helped to give the dish a good balance and flavor.
Mussels, chard and parsley were in a coconut sauce with tumeric. The broth was great with curry overtones and went well with the briny mussels. A few bits of crunchy onion added texture to this soft, warm dish. The mussels had different colors and the server told us this was due to the different sex of the mussel. The female ones were orange and the white ones were male. It all left a great aftertaste.
Sea urchin was plated with leek and parsnip. The urchin had good flavor and worked great with the raw parsnip slices that tasted a little like almond. They added texture. With mild seasoning, this was a great combo.
Cauliflower was lightly cooked with butter and served in a mole like sauce with sesame seeds, spices and a Brazilian fruit. The sauce was fairly spicy and a good intense flavor. This dish had lots of texture.
Octopus with nuts, beans, peas and red bell pepper was in a burnt onion sauce. The beans and peas were cooked just to tender and worked well with the meaty octopus that had been finished on the grill. It was a lovely mixture in a tasty, but not spicy, sauce.
A grouper like fish was in a great sauce and topped with fried pig skin, bean sprouts and artichoke. The gelatinous fish was well paired with the crunch of the sprouts and pig skin. It was a rich and interesting dish.
Tuna was served with coconut, a fruit paste and sour acaí. The rich tuna was good on its own and didn’t really need the fruit paste. Some crumbs on the plate were a nice addition.
Brazilian cheeses were served in small slices and included sheep, cow and goat milk varities. The blue cheese was the goat one. They were served with relishes of fig and orange and Portuguese nut (like a pine nut but bigger) that had been confit in a pressure cooker. Alongside was bread, butter and oil. It was a good selection of cheeses and some delicious sweet fig. The other adornments were fine and I really liked the pairing of the blue cheese with the nut confit. The bread was dense and wonderful with a perfect crisp crust. The butter was smooth and easily spreadable but not whipped.
Shiso ice cream was in a hibiscus sauce with red berries and hibiscus leaves. The creamy ice cream was complimented by the sweet fruity berries. The leaves were a bit strange to me but otherwise it was a sweet light dessert fix.
Sheep yogurt was plated with fruit, black pine nuts, red seed passion fruit and honey. The texture came from the nuts and seeds which accented the creamy yogurt. It was good but not too sweet.
With some after dinner whisky they brought out bonbons of chocolate, black garlic, caramel, pepper and jack fruit. Unfortunately I didn’t get the photo before trying each, so the photo is just the insides. The chocolate was crisp with slight creaminess in the middle. The garlic was very garlic. The caramel slightly sweet but had a bit of grit. The jack fruit was slightly spicy and tart. The whisky had a creamy filling with an intense chocolate taste. All were very nice and a good sweet finish.
The chef came out to visit and invited us to see the gardens outside and the upstairs kitchen but we declined. He had worked in Barcelona, New York and Chicago before landing here. He had a Michelin star before his first year was out.