Fusion Bistro Asian Restaurant will open where Grassi’s operated in University Place
Fusion Bistro Asian Restaurant plans a spring opening in University Place in the former home of Grassi’s, the Italian restaurant at 2811 Bridgeport Way W.
Diners will find an expansive dining room seating just under 100 at the Asian bistro, which also will have tableside service and a full cocktail menu and separate bar area.
A banquet room will seat about 30 for private events and karaoke parties. That beautiful outdoor courtyard eventually will be covered for outdoor dining.
OPENING TIMELINE FOR FUSION BISTRO
If all goes as planned, the restaurant will open this spring. The owners are hoping for sooner, rather than later, but a venting hood needs installing and some permits are still under review.
The restaurant is the project of Bill Le and his extended family.
Le comes from a restaurant family and has deep experience in cooking all styles of Asian cuisine, but he specializes in Vietnamese cooking.
Like their Pho Fusion and Grill, Fusion Bistro in University Place will carry a big menu focusing on broad Asian cuisine territory: Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and whatever strikes their fancy.
For locals, consider it something like Souper Pho, the fast-casual restaurant in Tacoma’s Westgate neighborhood that I love for its broad menu reflecting a far reaching swath of Asian flavors.
Fusion Bistro’s concept and menu will go a little deeper than Souper Pho in dining options and style of service. Think of Fusion Bistro as a place that’s safe for date night or taking the whole family out for dinner. And even your picky sister-in-law will find something to eat on the 400-item menu.
THE MENU AT FUSION BISTRO
“We specialize in Vietnamese, so it’ll be 50 percent Vietnamese, and then we’ll split up the rest of the menu,” said Le, who said the big menu is intentional to appeal to families with divergent tastes.
Hot pot lovers will be happy to hear that’ll be on the menu.
Their Vietnamese specialties include individual and group hot pot, in both Vietnamese and Chinese styles. “For the group hot pots, we do Vietnamese style,” said Le.
With all their hot pots, whether individual or group, “We put everything on the side and allow diners to cook it themselves.” He added, “We have the bigger pots for the group also,” he said.
They’ll also specialize in crawfish boil and a broad seafood menu featuring traditional Vietnamese dishes such as steamed clams with ginger and snails.
Other Vietnamese specialties, such as sugar cane shrimp skewers and grilled quail, also will be included on the menu that covers what diners would expect of a sit-down Vietnamese restaurant, as well as the typical pho restaurant menu.
For Thai, diners will find tom kha, green papaya salad, phad Thai and other noodle dishes, curries and a gamut of rice dishes.
The Chinese menu will feature wok specialties and classic Chinese-American dishes, plus a wide range of noodle and rice dishes. The Japanese side of the menu will have teriyaki, yakisoba and katsu. Plus, “We’re working on our ramen,” said Le.
THE DINING ROOM AT FUSION BISTRO
The restaurant took over both sides of the building that formerly housed Grassi’s restaurant and neighboring floral business. “We divided half the space out just for the bar and lounge area, with dining the other half,” said Le.
The dining room has shifted to include seating areas that can be sectioned off. The banquet room will still operate and the Le family has equipped the room with a karaoke system.
WHY UNIVERSITY PLACE?
At their Federal Way restaurant, they noticed a trend. About 30 to 40 percent of their customers were from Pierce County. “We were looking around for a year before we signed the lease in November. We looked here because we noticed that 30 to 40 percent of our customers in Federal Way are from Tacoma and Lakewood. That’s why we wanted to come closer to them. We have a lot of military members from JBLM dine with us, so we wanted to expand and get a little closer to our longtime customers. They love that they won’t have to drive as long anymore,” said Le.
THE FAMILY BEHIND FUSION BISTRO
Bill Le is not just the owner, he’s the restaurant’s chef. He has cooked for more than half his life, starting with his uncle’s restaurant in California. His first duty was dishwashing. He eventually graduated to prep cooking. He broadened out his resume while cooking at a wide range of Asian restaurants, specializing in Chinese and Japanese cooking.
The family moved here six years ago from Southern California. Le worked at a local casino managing a huge menu before the family opened their Federal Way restaurant.
Their food businesses are a family project. Le runs the restaurants with wife Dao Vo, his father De Le and his brother Tommy Le. Family members will travel between restaurants, splitting their time between Federal Way and University Place.
THIS RESTAURANT IS NOT RELATED TO FUZION CAFE IN TACOMA
Just so there’s no confusion, the family and restaurant is different from Fuzion Cafe (6820 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-267-1566; thefuzioncafe.com).
That longtime Tacoma restaurant is a sibling to Indochine on Pearl, Indochine downtown, Indo Asian Street Eatery and Moshi Moshi Ramen. Fuzion Cafe on Sixth is operated by Hong Ngov, whose sister Ly Ngov owns Indochine downtown with her husband Russel Brunton. Their other sister Buoy runs Indo Asian and Moshi Moshi in the Stadium neighborhood with her husband Vathunyu “Yu” Nanakornphanom. Fun fact: The trio of sisters are second-generation restaurant owners. Their parents, Kim Taing and Chhung Ngov, opened the original Indochine Thai restaurant in Federal Way in 1995 (they’ve since sold it).
FUSION BISTRO ASIAN RESTAURANT
Location: 2811 Bridgeport Way W., University Place