NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In some of the most exciting food news to hit Wilmington this decade, the beloved Thai and Vietnamese restaurant Indochine has plans to open a small second location centered around take-out in Monkey Junction.
“Literally we put the sign up, and less than 24 hours later, you and I are having a conversation,” Kathy Long, Indochine’s general manager said in a late Thursday interview.
Around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, a keen eye spotted a fresh sign affixed to the former Chop’s Deli location in Monkey Junction and posted a photo to the Facebook group ILM Foodie Alerts, a devoted page for local food lovers. In less than 20 hours, the post had more than 640 likes and 220 comments.
“At 7 o’clock this morning, I looked at my email and I looked on that site and I was just blown away and so was Niki,” Long said of the owner, Solange “Niki” Thompson, and her daughter, Marie Bartsch’s reaction.
Thompson transformed a 1960s building off Market Street into a lush oasis in 2000, featuring tiki huts and ornate decor. More impressive than Indochine’s alluring ambiance are Thompson’s authentic flavors, which exploded onto Wilmington’s otherwise sparse Asian food scene. Thompson’s restaurant consistently tops best Asian cuisine lists and is regarded by many as one the region’s best restaurants.
In the midst of working around Covid-19 restrictions, Long said the public’s response to a simple sign (and not even an official announcement) has overjoyed the team.
“Like every restaurant in this city, we have had to learn how to do to service in a different way,” Long said. “So today was just a really, wonderful, bright spot — it just feels like things are changing and we’re so excited. We’re definitely riding a high note today.”
Dubbed Indochine Express, the new location is a business venture Thompson has dreamed of exploring. Indochine’s 20-year owner and founder always wanted an additional space, Long said, one that’s primarily geared toward take-out orders.
Indochine Express’ menu will be more boiled down compared to Indochine’s but is sure to feature the restaurant’s best-sellers. Recipies and portion sizes will be the exact same at the new location, Long said.
Thompson is working on the layout of the new space, with a prospective opening date planned within the next few months.
“We couldn’t be more fortunate with the staff. This team puts out tremendous volume. They are amazing. Our wok chefs are incredible,” Long said. “We’re confident we can move forward with our great team.”
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