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Emerging from a shell

South Tampa personality Phuong Lu remains quite mysterious as she conquers a new world away from cuisine.

By MICHAEL CANNING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 17, 2002


So, naturally, the word "eligible" comes up.

"Very," Lu adds.

In 1995, she ran a series of four personal ads in the Weekly Planet. She says she got more than 400 responses. Within a month, she dined at Bern's 17 times. She heard hostesses thought she was a high-class call girl.

Maybe she's ready to settle down.

But recall the world travels. Ponder her heavily booked lunch calendar. And the numerous photos of friends that clog a bookshelf in her South Tampa townhouse.

Lu admits that she'd rather divide her time among many people and not give it all to one.

"Unless he's George Clooney," she says.

Some wonder if she'll every return to restaurants.

She has more than thought about it. For the past six months she and a potential business partner have scouted locations around South Tampa for new Thai/Vietnamese restaurant. If it happens, Lu already knows what it will be named.

"Phuong's."

Phuong Lu

  • BORN: In Saigon.
  • RAISED: In Minnesota.
  • AGE: 39
  • FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Jasmine Thai
  • WHAT SHE COOKS BEST: Spring rolls, fondue, nam sod (Thai pork salad)
  • PET SPORT: Football
  • FOLLOWED BY: Basketball and pro wrestling.
  • JOB OFFER: Impressed with her language skills, an FBI agent once asked her to apply to the FBI Academy. "I'm afraid of guns," she said.
  • LANGUAGES: Vietnamese, English, Japanese, French, Spanish
  • PERSONAL AD ALIASES: Asian Wonder, Porcelain China Doll, Pacific Splendor, Asian Splendor.
  • LAST BOOKS READ: Thailand: A Traveler's Companion and Tom Clancy's Rogue Spear.

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