Taco Bell parent company Yum! Brands opened a new Vietnamese sandwich chain in Dallas two weeks ago and the reviews are starting to pile in.
The restaurant, called Banh Shop, serves banh mi sandwiches and bowls, noodle salad and sides like “Saigon ‘Street Stall’ Corn” with coconut milk, butter, red pepper, and cheese.
Since opening, the restaurant has racked up more than 40 reviews for an average of 3.5 out of 5 stars on Yelp.
Customers have praised the “trendy” atmosphere, the fresh ingredients, and several menu items in particular, such as the Sweet and Spicy Peanut Slaw and the Grilled Steak & Egg banh mi.
“The banh mi here achieved the skillful balance between authenticity and modernized American influence,” wrote one reviewer, who said they grew up eating home-cooked Vietnamese food.
“AMAZING,” another reviewer said of the peanut slaw. “I could eat it for every meal. Crisp, saucy, and just the right amount of flavour.”
A third customer wrote, “I loved the atmosphere! Everything was very clean and the service was great. The food was really good — out of the ordinary — but very delicious.”
Some menu items have fallen flat, however, including the “Street Stall” corn, which two reviewers called “ridiculous” and “a train wreck.”
“Coconut milk, fish sauce, butter, and cheese doesn’t go together period,” one customer wrote. “The item needs to be scrapped from the menu because it was really bad. They add way too much vinegar, which masks any salvageable flavours from the natural sweetness of the corn.”
Others complained that some of the sandwiches were flavorless.
One reviewer who tried three dishes wrote, “The skirt beef was tender [and] tasty but insufficient in portion, while the coconut chicken was dry and lacking in the ‘chargrilled’ taste which was advertised. The pork meatball was probably the best but also looked like it had been sitting for some time.”
Another reviewer wrote, “I had the Steak banh mi. The pickled veggies have no taste or texture. The bread was not a true baguette. The steak was bland.”
But a third said the steak was “well marinated and balanced between saltiness and sweetness.”
Some complained that the menu isn’t a true representation of traditional Vietnamese food, but many said they favoured the unique flavour combinations over traditional banh mi.
“Don’t come expecting to get a true representation of what Vietnamese food is,” one reviewer wrote. “It’s more of a primer if you’re unfamiliar with the flavours and ingredients of Vietnamese food.”
Reviews on the bread were totally mixed. Some said the bread wasn’t crispy enough on the outside, while others claimed that it achieved the perfect balance between crispy and chewy.
“The banh mi bread was so delicious and had a crisp exterior and soft fluffy inside,” one reviewer wrote.
Yum! Brands, which also owns KFC and Pizza Hut, is planning to open its second location of Banh Shop at the Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport.
The company recently opened another new chain called U.S. Taco Co. in California, which serves gourmet tacos.
Yum! is experimenting with new restaurant concepts as customer traffic has been steadily declining at fast food restaurants.
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