Pho Bac, the business that started Seattle’s love affair with the namesake Vietnamese soup, has temporarily closed its iconic boat-shaped flagship restaurant to renovate the interior. The building, which sits at the intersection of Jackson St. and Rainier Ave., should reopen in early 2019 with a modernized interior, a full bar, and fresh menu items, but with its quirky, fire-engine-red exterior intact.
“We basically gutted the boat so the next time you come in, you won’t fear that the building will collapse on you,” says Yenvy Pham, who, with her siblings, runs the business her parents started. Pham says she’s adding retro and funky decor like a gold disco ball and flowery tablecloths, plus a full bar, likely with a focus on boilermakers, to encourage a late night crowd.
Meanwhile, Pham is hosting pop-ups in the space at 1314 S Jackson St., with one coming up on November 17 to benefit the Rainier Valley Food Bank and Friends of Little Saigon. The dinner, called Saigon Social, brings in chefs from San Diego, Las Vegas, and New York City for an evening of dry-aged meat and seafood cooked over a charcoal grill.
Anyone craving their daily pho fix can still find Pho Bac in Denny Triangle and Rainier Valley, plus the newer Pho Bac Sup Shop, which opened earlier this year next to the boat in the Chinatown-International District. Sup Shop is a lively, spacious restaurant with hip, modern Vietnamese dishes like a short rib pho, pho rolls (noodles fried in a brown rice wrapper), prawn ceviche, and tofu or pork sausage sliders.
Pham hinted at adding some new menu items when Pho Bac reopens, so perhaps Sup Shop’s playful style will carry over. That certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.