About two weeks ago I found myself walking the San Marco neighborhood streets, it was peaceful, birds were chirping, and the temperature was mild. Many businesses weren’t open yet but I managed to find my way into the doors of Indochine. San Marco resident’s are probably very familiar with this establishment as it sits right on San Marco Blvd, right in the heart of the action on San Marco Square. Indochine features a unique layout as the Buddha Lounge bottom floor is setup in a wide open design with assorted tables for smaller groups, a large bar, and a dance floor. On the second floor guests can find a restaurant decked out in distinct Thai fashion. I was able to get in touch with the restaurant’s general manager Andrea Ridge who was kind enough to sit with me for an interview.
Since the restaurant has such unique aesthetic appeal, I wanted to find out more about it. It turns out that one of the owners, Susie Sysouvanh, is originally from Vietnam and she bought many of the pieces found within directly from there and the surrounding region. Along with Susie, co-owners Mark and Ladda Salter created the unique look of IndoChine.
Andrea told me that, “IndoChine,” means Indo China in French and that the owners wanted to create an atmosphere that would transport it’s patrons to that place not just by experiencing the food but by being in that physical environment as well. Indo China was a term used by the French to describe the region between India and China. The countries located in this part of the world received a mix of cultural influence from both India and China. The cultures in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia are primarily influenced by India. While Vietnam received a stronger influence from China but still incorporated aspects on Indian culture. The first IndoChine opened it’s doors in for the first time in downtown Jacksonville back in September of 2010 and ever since new patrons have sought out the IndoChine experience at a steady pace. The San Marco location sees an average of 300 patrons a day.
I know what you really want to know and that’s about the food. So I asked Andrea what the most popular menu item amongst new patrons and regulars was. She told me that a classic staple at the restaurant is the Drunken Noodles as well as the Pad Thai. The Drunken Noodles feature sautéed rice noodles with egg, celery, onion, sweet pepper, mushroom and cashews with holy basil. The Pad Thai is made with thin rice noodles in a semi–sweet sauce with egg, scallion and bean sprouts –garnished with lime & crushed peanut. She also told me that IndoChine makes an awesome cucumber martini made with organic vodka, fresh puréed cucumber, mint lemon and lemon grass simple syrup. They also offer select kid’s menu options such as mild fried rice.
IndoChine offers a 25% discount for officers in uniform. They also host several large events such as bridal parties, birthdays, and corporate gatherings in their open downstairs area. Their downtown location offers catering to nearby office buildings during the weekdays.
Visit them online at www.indochinejax.com.
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Written and published for BUZZ Magazine, May 2016.