Banh Shop, created by Yum! Brands and restaurant developer Mark H. Brezinski, opens its first location on Friday, September 12 in Park Cities at 5629 SMU Boulevard just east of the DART tracks. The second location is slated to open at the DFW International Airport (Terminal D) later in September. Brezinski enlisted rising star culinary professionals Braden and Yasmin Wages of Malai Kitchen to design Banh Shop’s menu.
“With Southeast Asian cuisine growing in popularity in the U.S., we saw an opportunity to design a unique fast casual concept that emulates delicious Saigon street food, with a focus on the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich,” said Christophe Poirier, head of Banh Shop.
“The trend in Asian dining is morphing into concepts that feature specific elements of a given cuisine,” says Brezinski, co-founder of several successful restaurant brands and a key consultant on more than ten projects at the Trinity Groves development in West Dallas. “Banh Shop is our way of expressing the abundance of bold flavors of Vietnam and parts of Southeast Asia with a tightly focused menu.”
Brezinski instantly became a fan of Malai Kitchen and the Wages after sampling their craft. “They are very talented restaurateurs. We’ve incorporated updated technology touches and a forward-thinking design scheme. And most importantly, we all have the same vision for the food.”
Braden and Yasmin Wages are known for crafting unique creations with Thai and Vietnamese flavors at Malai Kitchen, their critically acclaimed modern Southeast Asian restaurant in West Village. Back from a two-week exploratory trip to Vietnam – their third such visit in the past three years – the Wages are ready to experiment with new ideas and techniques discovered on their travels.
“Yasmin and I are irresistibly drawn to this cuisine and are constantly amazed by the combinations of bold, complex flavors and aromas these foods generate,” says Braden. “We’re passionate about presenting these craveable flavors in an approachable, counter service format.”
Conceived as an upscale Southeast Asian street stall market, Banh Shop spotlights varieties of banh mi sandwiches including baguettes piled high with cilantro, Thai basil, pickled shredded carrot and daikon (Asian white radish), ribbon-cut cucumber and aioli and a selection of proteins. Banh Shop also features Southeast Asian salads, soups and wok-fired bowls. Some signature items include:
- Grilled Steak Banh Mi Sandwich – marinated sirloin steak, sliced and char-grilled with honey-caramel glaze; with cucumber-cilantro aioli
- Grilled Pork Meatball Banh Mi Sandwich – minced pork marinated with black pepper, Vietnamese caramel glaze and scallions; with cucumber-cilantro aioli
- Coconut Chicken Breast Banh Mi Sandwich – sliced chicken breast marinated in chili-coconut and char-grilled; with cucumber-cilantro aioli
- “Banh Fire” Wok’d Bowl – lively stir-fry of carrots, bean sprouts, red onion, scallion and cilantro tossed in a spicy tamarind sauce and topped with peanuts, “Banh Fire” jalapeno pesto and a dollop of cooling sour cream; served over white rice; choice of protein
- Traditional Vietnamese Noodle Salad (Bun) – vermicelli rice noodles, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, basil, mint, cilantro, peanuts, red onion and bean sprouts tossed in a Vietnamese vinaigrette (nuoc mam); add any char-grilled protein
- Saigon “Street Stall” Corn Cup – warm cup of sweet corn kernels, Saigon sauce (coconut milk, butter, nuoc mam), red pepper, scallion and crumbled white cheese
Brezinski brings more than 23 years of experience in the fiercely competitive DFW restaurant market to the Banh Shop project. He is intimately familiar with the challenges of bringing new concepts to fruition and stresses that a few elements essential for restaurant success are often overlooked.
“More than a successful manifestation of a clever vision, a new concept must have what I call the three Vs: vitality in the food it offers, value in its price points, and a vibe that is unmistakable with hospitality,” he says. “That’s why we aspire to engage and satisfy our guests as much as we inspire. We are compelled to think first and foremost as a consumer and if we achieve that, our chances for success increase measurably.”
Brezinski created Banh Shop with Yum! Brands, which owns and operates the Park Cities and upcoming DFW restaurants as an exploratory new concept it could develop in future years if proven successful.