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A family's dream 'beyond words' -- Miss Saigon moves to new Downtown restaurant on Broadway

Co-owner Bao Ma discussed how Rio Nuevo Board invested in his vision for new location on ground floor of TEP building
Posted at 8:36 AM, Apr 09, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) -- — In this quick bite of Tasting Tucson, we checked in with a well-established restaurant brand moving into their new Downtown location.

With the Rio Nuevo Board's support, Miss Saigon now has the room to showcase their Vietnamese culture, and for both regulars and new guests to try their family recipes.

Co-owner Bao Ma has support running the business with his two brothers, but for this project and the grand opening April 8th, Ma took the lead in re-designing what was an empty space.

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Quick aside — the first time I stepped foot in what was the old Mi-An Sushi restaurant, it was being used to run a COVID-19 test clinic.

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Sunday night, guests at Miss Saigon's soft opening got to marvel at Ma's designs; in particular, the bright and floral light fixtures that evoke the forests of Vietnam. "We (added) so much color, vegetation; it's more lively now, the lighting, the trees, plants, flooring," he said.

Ma said he used 3D rendering software to help contractors get every detail right, from the bar to one very conscious choice, which Ma said he hopes will add to the immersive experience. "We want them to have a comfortable, enjoyable time with their family. There's no TVs in this restaurant, so we want them to be present, enjoy the food," he said.

Ma and his family made their pitch of this meticulous vision to the Rio Nuevo Board, and in turn, they invested more than $350,000 to help Miss Saigon grow its footprint in town and have the room to experiment.

"At the other location," Ma said, referring to the store on 6th Avenue, "the kitchen is very small; 2, 3 people maximum, and it was busy, we were dodging each other. Here, we have a great cook-line set up, proper food line and we're able to try new dishes."

Asking Ma how he felt, knowing more than 110 days of physical labor paid off to get the restaurant ready for the opening, he said he was relieved, happy and emotional. "It's been a long project. What we've been able to accomplish here is beyond words," he said.

At Sunday's soft opening, guests got to sample Miss Saigon's appetizers that run the gamut of familiar flavors and fusions — spring rolls and curry chicken.

After trying main entrees, diners also got to try a traditional three-layer dessert — che ba mau — as well as flan.

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José Zozaya is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Before arriving in southern Arizona, José worked in Omaha, Nebraska where he covered issues ranging from local, state and federal elections, to toxic chemical spills, and community programs impacting immigrant families. Share your story ideas and important issues with José by emailing jose.zozaya@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.