Pho Basil Vietnamese Cuisine is the latest in a string of restaurants to occupy 812 S. Kerr Ave. in University Square Mall, but co-owner and chef Cindy Nguyen is confident that her restaurant will be there to stay.
Nguyen and husband Paul Do, along with her mom, Hieu Nguyen, will be serving up recipes from their native Vietnam, prepared healthfully with local ingredients.
Nguyen said she packs her dishes with fresh vegetables and will bring in seafood from a supplier in Snead’s Ferry from whom she has been buying for her home cooking for the last several years.
“She calls me up as soon as the boats come in to see what I want,” Cindy Nguyen said.
Nguyen said she has been hosting weekly dinners for anywhere from 20 to 40 friends and family for the last several years and many have encouraged her to open a restaurant.
“I know it will be a lot of work but I love cooking for people, it makes me so happy,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen plans to be in the kitchen seven days a week, ensuring that all dishes are prepared with consistency. She is very happy to be located just down the way from Saigon Market, another place she frequents when gathering ingredients for her home-cooked meals.
Nguyen said it was Saigon Market owner Lan Washington who told her about the availability of the restaurant space and put in a good word for her with the landlord.
“I think she realized that my being located here could be beneficial to both of us, as we can each refer customers to one anther,” Nguyen said. “I’m thrilled to be able to walk over to her store and find anything I might need and have so many authentic ingredients practically right next door.”
Nguyen’s menu includes traditional Vietnamese specialties such as spring rolls, bahn mi sandwiches, pho and wanton soups, rice noodle bowls, fried rice, and grilled meats with steamed rice and vegetables. Customers will also find Vietnamese iced coffee, boba tea, and smoothies.
Paul Do has remodeled the restaurant’s interior, incorporating a mix of natural elements such as wood, brick and stone. Vietnamese art covers the walls of the casual 44-seat dining space.
Pho Basil will celebrate its grand opening on Monday, and will offer a free appetizer ($3 or less) with the purchase of a meal, to customers for the first two weeks. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
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