Experience Tacoma’s ‘house of many cuisines’
By Jillian Chandler | Photo Courtesy of Saigon House
Pursuing any new business venture can be an exciting—yet stressful—time. And for Dung Tran, owner and chef de cuisine of Saigon House Vietnamese Cuisine in Tacoma, opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic was no easy task.
In business for a little more than a year now, having opened the doors to the restaurant in July of 2020, Dung and his staff struggled to stay afloat. After just three months in business, they were forced to close the restaurant and only offer takeout. “At one point, we really thought we would have to close our door for good because we did not know how we were going to pay our employees and the overhead,” he reflects.
Dung’s family migrated to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1993. His father served in the U.S Army in the Vietnam War, taken as a prisoner of war and later released and returned to the United States to be with his unit and his family. Growing up in Tacoma, Dung has never left, with the exception of taking small jobs here and there, and working in Alaska on a seafood deck. “I consider Tacoma to be my hometown, and I could never see myself elsewhere.”
While growing up, Dung found himself cooking for the household, taking joy in watching his siblings eat and seeing their reactions. Dung’s love of cooking was inspired by all of his siblings, especially his sister, Uyen Thi. “She is my biggest inspiration and has always encouraged me to become a chef,” he smiles. “She taught me so much about cooking and helped me gain the confidence to open my first ever pho restaurant in Silverdale, and now Saigon House in Tacoma. (You can find Uyen online on YouTube, where she has her own cooking channel—UyenThyOfficial.)
At Saigon House, patrons will be treated to a Vietnamese/Thai-fusion cuisine. Chef Joi, who hails from Thailand and is an expert in Thai cuisine, brings with him many years of experience, having worked in 5-star restaurants throughout Thailand and winning various awards for his craft. Paired with Chef Dung’s passion and talent for Vietnamese cuisine, guests are in for an experience like no other in the area.
“Saigon House is a house of many cuisines,” affirms Dung. “We want our guests to experience the true authentic Thai and Vietnamese food that only Saigon House will offer. We are proud to have a real chef who can cook real authentic food. This makes us stand out from the bunch.”
The full-service restaurant also offers a full bar headed by their experienced bartender, who brings with him his extensive knowledge of drinks. There are two happy hours offered daily, from 4 to 6pm and again from 9pm to close. Lunch is offered at a discounted price (10 percent off) for military and first responders.
Dung and his family give back to the community the best way they know how—through their love of food. They have donated lunches to the community hospital to support first responders; partnered with Asia Pacific Cultural Center during Asian Heritage Month; donated time and food to serve our military at Fort Lewis Base. “We are always in support of our troops because my father served in the military, and we want to honor and support them in any way we can,” Dung affirms.
When it comes to what Chef Dung finds most rewarding about his life’s passion, it’s hearing his guests share the love of the food. “It makes me so happy to know what they have to say about my cooking. The feeling this gives me is what inspires me to continue doing what I do. Seeing our guests leaving the restaurant happy and satisfied is the biggest reward that I could ever ask for as a chef/owner.”
He is grateful to his family and friends, who have been there through thick and thin: “Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. They support me financially and emotionally through this journey,” Dung attests. “And to the community, please continue to support your local businesses and give them a try—we promise to give our best service in return for your support to the community.”
Chef Dung and his team invite you to dine in (reservations can be made by phone or online) or take out, and experience the irresistible cuisine of Vietnam and Thailand at Saigon House. Hưởng.
Saigon House Vietnamese Cuisine 2505 South 38th Street, Suite A101 Tacoma, Washington 98409 253.503.3010 SaigonHouse.us