Taco Bell Parent Company Testing Banh Mi Concept

Yum! Brands is set to mass-market the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich with a new Asian test concept called Banh Shop.

Photo: V-Nam Cafe, Taco Bell

Photo: V-Nam Cafe, Taco Bell

Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands, is testing a new Asian concept called Banh Shop in Dallas, reports an observant EscapeHatch reader.

This prototype Vietnamese sandwich shop has the potential to evolve into a national chain à la KFC or Taco Bell, but we can only wait and see if Yum! Brands will be successful in its attempt to mass-market the banh mi.

It’s fun to observe the trickle-down effect of food trends. Banh mi—a meat, tofu, or pâté-filled baguette sandwich with cilantro and pickled vegetables—was the hot food trend in NYC in the mid-to-late-2000s. Smaller, independent banh mi chains have popped up due to the popularization of the Vietnamese sandwich in America (see Lee’s Sandwiches in California, and the failed Baoguette in NYC). Shophouse, Chipotle’s fast-casual Southeast Asian restaurant, served banh mis when it launched in 2011.

bac Taco Bell Parent Company Testing Banh Mi Concept

Banh mi from Lee’s Sandwiches. (Photo: Caden’s Taste)

In 2009, Applebee’s launched a “Grilled Chicken Wonton Tacos” appetizer. Applebee’s executive chef Jessica James explains that the banh mi was the inspiration behind the Wonton Tacos,

“I was researching Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, among other items, and took an assortment from various stands back to our kitchen location downtown. The banh mi is a really unique and cool Asian sandwich concept, but I thought it was too high-end for our locations.”

And now, banh mis are getting the Taco Bell treatment from Yum! Brands. Pretty soon, middle America will be feasting on banh mis like they were Doritos Locos Taco.

[via Thrillist, EscapeHatch Dallas]

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