Story and photo by Mary Sheely
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. today, Saigon Boat Café, 2632 Alki SW (map), served 20 customers. For many restaurants, that probably wouldn’t be such a great number. But for a restaurant on its opening day, with no fanfare save a lit-up “open” sign? Not bad at all.
Owner Nhung Tran, who with her sister Thu Tran is the proprietor of Saigon Boat Café and Red Nails, around the corner at 2648 59th SW, two businesses that we have covered previously, is smiling as she stands in the cheerful space that used to be a dreary rental house.
“We just opened, they come!” she says.
The once dingy gray-blue exterior is now a warm reddish tone, with matching lanterns hanging from the eaves. A gravel courtyard with several patio tables and chairs is ready for the warmer months. Inside, worn carpeting has made way for newly refinished hardwood floors, and track lighting and wood paneling lend a warm glow.
At a front window, four students of Rose De Dan’s Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC are taking a break from a weekend workshop, digging into large bowls of pho, the Vietnamese soup filled with noodles, vegetables, and meat. What brought them in?
“The pho!” Amara Simons says. The group simply wandered down Alki, saw the sign, and jumped at the chance to try a new pho place.
Nhung and Thu Than underestimated how many people would do the same. They are already out of sandwiches, but they’ll be serving pho until 8:30.
“I’m going to have to get more bread,” Nhung says. She adds that Red Nails, where business has been a bit slow since it opened, was busy today as well.
At 5:30, the door opens, and a man in dressed head-to-toe in cycling gear walks in.
21 and counting.
Saigon Boat Café will be open daily from 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Vietnamese sandwiches are $2.75 each; all pho is $5.95 per serving. Vietnamese Coffee is $2.50. Call (206) 932-5714