Local Business, Global Fare 1

Restaurateurs Serve Up Contemporary and Healthy Thai and Vietnamese Cuisine

On a recent morning, hours before Parker’s Indochine restaurant opened, its owner, Yume Tran, was online with a budding restaurateur in Zimbabwe.

Aside from running this busy, contemporary Thai and Vietnamese restaurant with her husband, Jeff Nghiem, Tran makes time to help other entrepreneurs live their food-related business dreams. In Florida, a young baker is learning the business of making organic, gluten-free cookies and trail mix, with Tran as her online coach.

“I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I have a passion about mentoring,” says Tran, who has been honored for her mentoring efforts by local business groups.

Coaching would-be restaurateurs or other culinary professionals is only a small portion of what Tran and Nghiem have accomplished in the 13 years they’ve been serving Thai and Vietnamese food in Parker. Tran and Nghiem, both from Vietnam, left their corporate IT jobs to pursue the restaurant business.

“I never thought I’d stay this long,” Trans says with a smile, reflecting what has become a passion for serving customized dishes to a growing and increasingly sophisticated demographic.

Diners who frequent Indochine “want to make healthy choices and eat good food,” Tran says, acknowledging that the dishes, which are cooked one at a time and often customized, may take a little longer to prepare.

Gluten-free menu options abound. And “customized” is literal. When a diner requested cashew chicken without the cashews and presented a list of special ingredients, Tran recalls, she didn’t blink an eye, returning to the kitchen to direct the cooks. Another diner wanted to know how many grams of sugar were in the dish; Tran studied the recipe and reported back.

She also has developed gluten-free sauces, branded Meals in a Minute, which she sells to customers and ships out of state. Tran will soon resume conducting cooking classes at the restaurant.

“I love to eat. I do this for the love of it,” she says. “I research everything to death.”

“I love to eat. I do this for the love of it,” she says.

For Sushi Fans, Suchine Offers Gluten-Free Choices

Still, Tran and Nghiem wanted to serve another demographic – diners who favor gluten-free sushi choices but may not have time to linger. So two years ago they opened Suchine, just across from Indochine in Parker Station, and began serving gluten-free sushi.

At Suchine, diners can choose their ingredients and have the chef personally prepare the rolls for them or they can buy fresh packaged sushi. Tran refers to their sushi restaurant as a “no-fuss dining experience.” Vegan options also are available, and customers can order online.

“Parker is very supportive of local business,” Tran observes. “I keep the pulse of the town. People here like to try new things.”

Parker isn’t the only source of diners. About 15 percent of Indochine’s customers come from Elizabeth and Franktown.

Tran says she likes to support Parker by hiring local residents and encouraging her younger staff members to continue their educations, noting that one former employee will graduate from medical school next spring.

“They’re worth their weight in gold,” she says.

At the end of the day, Tran knows that the 6½ days a week she and her husband work is all about “doing what we do best in a creative, healthy way…like a kitchen away from home.”