A new Asian cuisine restaurant has made its way to the State Street area.
After several months of construction, Tian Chu, which offers a wide selection of Korean cuisine as well as Chinese and Japanese dishes, opened its doors on 613 East William St. earlier this month in the space formerly occupied by Rio Wraps. The new restaurant on the block will provide some competition to Korean restaurant Maru, also located on East William Street, just a short walk away from Tian Chiu.
Tian Chu manager Lin Cui said she wanted to run a restaurant that offered a plethora of dishes.
“I prefer having people come in with a lot of choices,” Cui said. “It’s not only Korean food, but Chinese and other types of food as well. You can come with all your friends, and everyone can enjoy the meal because there are many options.”
Maru’s owner Dukki Hong said he has not yet taken a look at Tian Chu’s offerings and initially believed that the restaurant only served Chinese food. Kong added that despite the emergence of a second Korean restaurant on East William Street, he does not mind the competition.
“I don’t know about that restaurant. I have never seen the menu,” Hong said. “Anyway, I don’t care because I just make my own food, and that’s it.”
Entrees at Tian Chu include marinated beef short ribs, spicy seafood noodle soup and chicken katsu. Appetizers consist of spring rolls, Korean-style sushi and seafood pancakes, among others.
Cui said she has a long history of working at restaurants, adding that she started working in the food service industry at the age of 10 when her parents ran a Korean restaurant in China.
After she graduated from college, Cui and her family moved to Hungary, where they spent the next 15 years managing five restaurants in Budapest.
In 2002, Cui moved to Ann Arbor. After searching for the perfect location to open a restaurant, Cui settled on East William Street to provide another option for Asian cuisine for students on campus.
“There aren’t enough Korean restaurants in the area,” Cui said. “I have a lot experience with Korean cuisine, and I think there is enough of a demand from the students and those living in Ann Arbor.”
With Tian Chu only in its second week, students have just begun to discover the new restaurant in town. Cui said the restaurant suffered from having its grand opening during the middle of the University’s spring break and that few customers came in.
So far, the restaurant has received mixed reviews from students.
“I have had Korean food before, and have been going to Maru since the beginning of the year,” School of Music, Theater & Dance junior Ed Grumeretz said, adding the food was not as good at Tian Chu. “I had the jap chae and fried squid rolls, and it was mediocre at best.”
Though Tian Chu hasn’t been open long, Cui said she plans to make several changes in the coming days. She said she hopes to put several more dishes on the menu and add the bubble tea drink, a favorite among students. In addition, Cui said she wants to have a karaoke station at the restaurant in the near future.
“We have been really busy this past week getting settled into the new restaurant, and it is critical that we take care of the most important things first, which is the quality of the food,” Cui said. “But now, we are looking for new ways to enhance the experience for customers.”