By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The family behind Phnom Penh Noodle House is preparing to reopen this coming winter in a new location.
“We are very excited. It’s been quite the journey getting us to this point,” Diane Le told the Northwest Asian Weekly.
Le, along with Dawn and Darlene Ung, daughters of Sam Ung, the original owner of the restaurant, are hoping for a January opening date in the new Thai Binh building on South Jackson Street.
The Chinatown fixture closed its doors in May 2018 after Dawn’s son, Devin, was severely injured in an automobile crash. His mother took time away from the restaurant to care for Devin, leaving Darlene to run and manage Phnom Penh all on her own. It became too much, so the family made the difficult decision to close.
Now, with the help of Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority — and financial help from the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development — the sisters are resurrecting the restaurant.
They still need help with construction costs, so the sisters have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $30,000 over the next month. Donors can choose from jars of spicy sate sauce or tickets to the soft opening, or the big-ticket item: Sam, who returned to Cambodia after retirement, is making a special return visit to Seattle and will be cooking a tasting menu for one $10,000 donor (and 11 friends) at the new restaurant.
Dawn says the menu at the new location will be smaller, but have all the favorites — their dad’s original recipes, all from the original 1987 menu.
When asked about Devin’s condition, Le told the Northwest Asian Weekly that he is at home and doing better physically.
“He’s working on body strength and learning to stand again. Mentally, he’s still non-responsive and needs to be tube-fed and requires 24-hour care,” said Le. “Dawn’s working part-time, juggling being a single-parent… she has a dedicated caretaker for some hours during the week. She would love to get working full-time again as it’s been financially straining.”
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.