The Passport Restaurant & Lounge on South State was most recently a Japanese restaurant called the Cherry Blossom. Many Ann Arborites remember its original incarnation better. Certainly owner Jenny Wu does. Sitting in the large bar–the “Lounge” of the title, with Frank Sinatra wafting from the speakers–Wu says: “I worked here in college when it was Chi-Chi’s. Everything was sombreros and margaritas. I liked the atmosphere and loved my job, and it brought back a lot of memories when the landlord showed me the space.” The Cherry Blossom, not surprisingly, had already toned down Chi-Chi’s south-of-the-border theme to a neutral beige. “They brought in what I guess you’d call that upper-class look. I’m not sure I like it quite as much as I liked Chi-Chi’s,” Wu says, but after nearly two decades in the carryout business she felt up to the challenge of a large, full-service restaurant, and the availability of her old workplace seemed to be a sign.

Passport, as the name implies, is enthusiastically cosmopolitan–no emphasis on locavore-ism here. “We wanted to go with an international theme,” Wu says. “So many parts are still Asian [there are eight tatami rooms], and people remember Chi-Chi’s.” She hired chef Tony Mayo from the Quarter Bistro (whose bio says he specializes in Cajun, tapas, nouveau sushi, and French cooking), and they put their heads together. The appetizer menu lists Barcelona calamari, Paris crab quiche, Bangkok spring rolls, and Hong Kong gyozas. Entrees mention Korea, New England, the Southwest, Venice. There’s also a large menu of “fusion” sushi, making use of ingredients from around the world. Wu says that so far among the entrees the lamb chops and the steak have proved the most popular, but she’s hoping to steer more people toward her personal favorites, “East-Meets-West Bouillabaisse,” and anything chicken (“it’s all grilled, not breaded and fried, so it’s really good for you,” she says).

Wu, who moved here from Shanghai with her family when she was twelve, has a degree in marketing from the U-M business school. She hadn’t intended to go into the restaurant business, nor had she intended to settle in Ann Arbor. After college she was all set to move to Hong Kong, where she had a job offer, but her mother, Bin Hua Tsou, needed help. Tsou, who Wu says is better known around town as a popular piano teacher, opened Lucky Kitchen on Plymouth in 1993, not so much because she wanted a restaurant, but to give her godson a job–“His English skills weren’t that good,” Wu explains. But shortly after Lucky Kitchen opened, the godson decamped to Canada, and Wu stepped into the breach.

At the time, she thought it was a temporary arrangement, but shortly afterward she hired chef Jin Huang. They married and eventually opened a second Lucky Kitchen on East U. They now have two children, the older in middle school. “We’re a close family,” she says. “My mom helps me out in the restaurant, my dad watches the kids.” Wu even counts her brother, who lives in Hong Kong, as part of her support system: “He helps me emotionally and in many different ways.”

Passport’s grand opening was October 8, but Wu says that a soft opening a month earlier had already resulted in some tweaks to the menu. “Some people have found it to be a little pricey [the bouillabaisse will set you back $29], so we added the happy hour munchies menu, available all weekend and from three to seven on weekdays.” And her lunch menu, which currently is pretty much limited to sandwiches and pasta, will soon include some of the dinner entrees.

Wu says she also wants to dispel a little bit of the staid, beige “upper-class” atmosphere that crept in during the Cherry Blossom days. “We’re going to have events every day in the lounge–like jazz, blues, quartets, salsa dancing. We’ll be teaching dance, having dance-offs. We have quite a few musicians among our employees. They might do some of their own things.”

Passport Restaurant & Lounge, 3776 S. State St., 222-1111. Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight, Sun. 4-11 p.m.