Hong Ngov and Sean Yean spent more time during the last 18 months with contractors than diners at Fuzion Cafe in the Narrows neighborhood. That’s due to a kitchen fire that caused devastating damage in November 2015, a little more than a year after they opened their Southeast Asian eatery.
Fortunately, their loss was fully covered by insurance. The months-long rebuild included replacing and repairing electrical wiring, framing and drywall. Contractors ripped out the blackened carpet and replaced it with tile. New kitchen equipment was purchased to replace the appliances that perished or were smoke damaged.
Reopening day finally came May 3. The handsome dining room experienced a few minor decor changes. The husband and wife team added a few menu additions. The restaurant primarily focuses on Thai cuisine with a handful of South and Southeast Asian dishes. As before, the restaurant still caters to gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diners.
“I’m just very thankful to be back. It’s been a long journey,” said Ngov. She said the fire was caused by an errant piece of plastic that landed on a pilot light in the kitchen. While she was juggling the reconstruction of Fuzion Cafe, she and Yean continued operating Indochine on Pearl, their dinner-only restaurant that’s a sibling restaurant to two other Tacoma restaurant owned by Ngov’s siblings.
Sister Ly Ngov operates Indochine Asian Dining Lounge in downtown Tacoma with husband Russel Brunton. Another sister, Buoy Ngov, and husband Vathunyu “Yu” Nanakornphanom operate Indo Asian Street Eatery in the Stadium neighborhood. They are second-generation restaurateurs. Their parents, Kim Taing and Chhung Ngov, opened the original Indochine in Federal Way.
Here’s a first-bite look at the reopening of Fuzion Cafe. It’s this paper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month.
The space: It was a stylish restaurant before the fire and it still is, with layers of wood and saturated earth tones. A new tile floor replaces the former carpet. Those beautiful curtains sewed by Ngov’s mother were restored following the fire.
The concept: A solid menu of Thai favorites, including curries, noodles and stir-fried dishes, with a handful of other Asian dishes, including gyoza, steamed edamame, Burmese noodles and borrowed from Indo Asian Street Eatery: shrimp and chive dumplings ($8.95).
The menu: Lunch includes six appetizers ($5.75-$9.95); two salad and curry choices ($11.95-$12.95) and seven noodle or rice dishes ($12.95-$13.95). The dinner menu, available during lunchtime, includes 11 appetizers ($5.75-$11.95); 12 noodle dishes ($12.95-$14.95); four curries with a choice of meat ($16.95); three seafood dishes ($18.95); salad and sesame wraps ($13.50-$15.95); a few chicken dishes ($15.95) and a half dozen fried rice dishes ($13.75-$14.95).
On a first visit: Don’t miss the sesame wraps, a version of which is served at downtown Tacoma’s Indochine. Chicken is glazed with a sticky sweet-and-salty sauce and served with roasted cashews, sweet mango and chopped basil ($9.95 lunch/$15.95 dinner). Flaky flatbread for tucking the chicken into is served on the side. The dish can be made with tofu.
Don’t miss the summer basil salad, a Thai-style chopped salad that arrived as a bowl brimming with chopped cabbage, shredded cabbage, red peppers, cubed mangoes and lots of fresh basil in a tangy dressing ($11.95). Still on the menu are the must-try ginger wings ($8.75).
Where: 6820 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-267-1566; thefuzioncafe.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 4-9 p.m. Saturdays.