The last time we checked in with Bac Nguyen was late July. He was shooting for an October opening of Bac Asian American Bistro (2661 W. 14th St., 216.938.8960, bactremont.com). Well, we know how restaurant build-outs go. "I came into this process knowing that it would be an incredible amount of work," says Nguyen. "I still had no idea what I was in for." Having passed inspections, conducted server training, commenced practice runs, and mounted and displayed the all-important liquor license, Bac will finally launch later this month. Needless to say, Nguyen is thrilled: "You get so bogged down with construction that you forget you're even opening a restaurant. I did this with my family on a small budget. We did a lot of the work ourselves. Everything takes longer and costs more than you think it's going to." The time has allowed the young entrepreneur to better develop his concept, he adds. "I want to carve a very specific niche for the restaurant. This isn't a chef show. This is a very down-to-earth, causal and festive place serving the kind of food Asians in America eat everyday." The menu will offer Nguyen's take on summer rolls, Vietnamese crepes, green papaya salad, banh mi sandwiches, pho, pad thai and mango curry. Nguyen says that he intends to keep the menu simple at first, adding more challenging items down the road. "We're going to be riding on training wheels for a while so we want to start slow," he says. "I would hate to crash and burn before we even take off."
Add Pacific East to the ever-growing palette of Solon sushi shops. Owner Freeman Ngo says that his new outpost (33003 Aurora Rd., 440.498.3223) should open in late February. Along with the original on Coventry and the newer spot at Eton, the latest locale makes three in the Pacific East empire. Despite the seeming glut of sushi bars, Ngo is hardly concerned about the competition. "Even though I work seven days a week, I know what's out there," he says. "When it comes to quality and selection, no one is able to compare with us. The largest volume stores get the best fish." Housed in a former Penn Station sub shop, the restaurant will be the largest of the three, seating about 100. Like the Coventry shop (but unlike the Eton one), the menu will feature Malaysian food items. "Solon has the largest Asian population in Cleveland," notes Ngo.