The transformation of House of Lu into a chic eatery with a Manhattan feel is an unexpected, but welcome surprise.
“We wanted to make it modern but with hints and nods to the Asian culture. We wanted to make sure that all the textiles we used is something you’d see in the Asian culture,” said Manager Cindy Lu, whose Chinese parents started the restaurant in 1997.
The new logo and door handles at the entrance read “Pho” and “Rice,” symbolizing the Lu family heritage and reflecting two cuisines offered at the restaurant.
“‘Pho’ (Vietnamese rice noodle soup) symbolizes the Vietnamese cuisine and ‘Rice’ symbolizes the Chinese cuisine so they’re marrying the two,” said Lu, who is Chinese but born in Saigon, Vietnam. The 1995 graduate of Sprayberry High School came to Marietta with her family when she was 2 years old. She is married to Johnny Tam. They have two children, and she is pregnant with her third.
The focal point of the graceful, understated dining area is a circular wooden bar that represents the Yin and Yang symbol. Wood, a strong element in Chinese culture, is predominant in features such as chairs, tables, and free-range chicken cages designed into light fixtures. A tearoom that seats a larger group showcases antique clay teapots from the Yixing Province of China.
The family chose Million Dollar Red paint by Benjamin Moore as the principal color because of its importance in China.
“Red is a strong color in Chinese culture for love, wealth, prosperity and happiness,” Lu said.
Local artist Marc Noreikas painted a colorful mural of a dragon lady on the north wall of the restaurant that represents Chinese culture. A second mural of a “sexy lady” is planned for the opposite wall representing Vietnamese culture.
“She’s (the sexy lady) more modern, more mysterious, and she’s holding a bowl of Pho,” Lu said.
The ambiance strikes a balance between style and comfort such as brass purse hooks located underneath each table. The bar, likewise accommodated with purse hooks, also provides electrical outlets for using or recharge electrical devices. A special events room is available and equipped with a 60-inch television with AV connection.
“(The new décor) provides a different atmosphere than it used to be. It’s a lot more open. The colors are more pleasing to the eye. I think it’s something Marietta needs,” she said.
The menu has also changed at House of Lu.
“We decided to offer Vietnamese food because that’s our heritage. We have both influences — Vietnamese and Chinese,” Lu said.
House of Lu will continue to offer the same great menu for which it is known but have added Vietnamese dishes of Pho (pronounced “Fa” or “Fuh”), rice noodle soup and banh mi, a baguette sandwich. They anticipate a handful of additional Vietnamese favorites in the future.
“Pho, which is a Vietnamese beef noodle soup is amazing for those who love it. Pho lovers would go all over the place to get a good bowl of hot pho — it’s like a cult. It takes a long time to make the rich beef broth which is what makes it so good,” she said.
Although Pho is technically beef noodle soup, a vegetarian version was added in response to customers’ request along with a chicken broth version.
“Pho is probably downright the best comfort food and household staple you can get,” Lu said.
According to the menu, banh mi is a Vietnamese term for all types of bread but today is commonly known as the Vietnamese sandwich consisting of French baguette with pate, mayonnaise, and other fillings like cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, jalapeños and meat.
House of Lu is located at 89 Cherokee St., Marietta. Visit houseoflu.com or call (770) 794-8831 for more information.