Basil Café on the menu at Bayview Corner

Get ready for an Asian explosion on the South End.

Chung Tran, owner of the popular Vietnamese restaurant Pho Huy in Mukilteo, is opening the Basil Café at Bayview Corner in mid-February.

The restaurant will be located in the former 3Cats Café and specializes in pan-Asian Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisine.

Beyond featuring an Asian menu, Tran will offer American classics like steaks, burgers and fish and chips.

“Steak and seafood dishes are my specialty,” said Tran, 31.

Chicken wings Hawaiian-style with garlic, filet mignon marinated with saki on top of a garlic-cilantro sauce and his house special soup — brisket, flank steak and meatballs — are his favorites.

Tran was born to Chinese parents in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — formerly called Saigon. His brother Ken and sister Tiffany were the first family members to emigrate to the U.S. in 1979 as part of the refugee exodus after the fall of South Vietnam. His parents could not afford to send anyone else.

In 1991, Tran and two other brothers were allowed to leave Vietnam and joined their siblings in Hawaii where they worked in the restaurant industry as chefs and managers. In 1999, all the Tran brothers moved to the Seattle area to continue as restaurateurs.

They currently own and operate both Pho Huy and the Ginger Palace near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

He chose the name Basil Café because it evokes freshness and flavor.

“We use a lot of herbs in our dishes,” he said. “Asian food is healthy and natural with lots of vegetables.

“We will use only the freshest ingredients and produce available and prices will be affordable. Great service is important to us,” he added. “My wife Cathy and I want our customers to feel at home and feel like family when they walk into our restaurant.”

Island resident Marti Anamosa has been dining at Pho Huy for some time.

“He has the best chicken noodle soup in the universe,” she said. “His stir-fried dishes are outstanding and the prices are good. I’m very glad he’s coming

to Whidbey.”

Tran has been searching for the right spot for about a year.

“I like the way people live here and we have many Whidbey customers who come to our Mukilteo restaurant,” Tran said.

“We couldn’t believe our luck when this space became available. The Cash Store is a beautiful building, welcoming and very community-oriented. This is what we want Basil Café to be as well.”

Tran likes the idea of bringing something new to the island. He described his food as a fusion of flavors and smells from several Asian nations, both creative and traditional. He plans to offer a catering service as well.

Initially, the Basil Café will offer lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Goosefoot, the nonprofit owner of the historic Cash Store, is happy to welcome the Trans as their newest tenants.

Goosefoot chief executive officer Chris Hurley said the organization looks for tenants who will complement other businesses at the Cash Store and will offer a needed service or product to the community.

“We’ve hit the jackpot with the Basil Café,” she said. “We hope everyone will join us in giving Chung and his family a big welcome to Whidbey Island.”

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