Solange Thompson is on an ambitious path to expand its signature version of Southeast Asian cuisine within the greater Wilmington region.
The owner of the ever-popular Indochine restaurant on the corner of Wayne and Market recently announced that a new location for her brand, Indochine Express, is coming to a shopping mall in front of the Independence Mall. It plans to unveil this new member of its growing network of restaurants in early August.
On Tuesday, it said that the downtown Indochine Express will be similar to other Thompson’s fast restaurants and will focus specifically on introducing Vietnamese cuisine to new audiences.
She said, “My concept is very different from Chinese or Thai restaurants in Wilmington. It’s pioneering Asian food with a twist: All of my stores have a touch of food with art. I want to promote Asian art culture. Even if it’s fast food, I have art there and [represent] History of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia”.
Thompson, known to many of her clients as Nikki, is of French-Vietnamese descent. Born in Vietnam – which until 1954 was part of French Indochina and still retains some of the French flavour – I grew up in neighboring Thailand and assimilated the cultures of Southeast Asia. A resident of Wilmington since 1975, she opened an Asian Indochina restaurant in 2000.
Twenty years later, Thompson began expanding. In less than six months, I’m out with two new establishments. The first was the Indochine Express on South College Road in Monkey Junction, which opened on the cusp of 2021. Soon after, Thompson followed it up with Café Chinois at Fulton Station at the intersection of South 17th Street and South College Road.
Its goal for Indochine Express was to offer a satellite site with a menu smaller than the wide range of dishes in Indochine but still representing Asian flair in fusion. Café Chinois was intended to highlight Asian cuisine, such as pho, and not on the Indochine or Indochine Express menus.
Having succeeded with these two projects, Thompson opened the Indochine Express in Southport about two months ago and is in the process of obtaining permits for a similar site in Leyland. But the Indochine Express downtown is in her sights firmly at the moment.
“We will have a very good Vietnamese soup, Bon Po Hue, a traditional soup from my hometown of Vietnam, Hue Imperial City,” she said. “We will have an entrance in [mall-facing] The back of the restaurant is for customers and employees in the mall.”
Thompson said they are selective about their ingredients.
“Even at my Indochine Express locations, I try not to use any inexpensive products. I pay a bit more but the quality of my food is really great.” “I just want to bring another restaurant that serves healthy food for the people of Wilmington, because Wilmington is my favorite city in the whole world. I came here when I was 20, and Wilmington was great for me.”
The new Indochine Express will be located at 3608 Oleander Drive (as shown above)in the same Firehouse Subs complex.