Fast Food

Taco Bell Parent Brand Opens Bougie Vietnamese Fast Food, Calls Pho ‘Chicken Soup’


Up until now, good Vietnamese restaurants have been notoriously frill-free. There’s very little effort spent appeasing guests with friendly waiters or even translated menus. You go, you enjoy the kaleidoscopic medleys of rice noodles, pickled carrots, basil, and proteins wrapped in rice paper or steeped in broth, you pay, and you leave.

Well folks, it seems we’re finally ready to give Vietnamese food the Panda Express treatment. Say hello to the Banh Shop.

With its first location opening this Friday in Dallas, Texas, the Banh Shop is Yum Brand’s ambiguously authentic yet ambiguously new age take on all that is mainstream Vietnamese food, from banh mi sandwiches to bun (dry noodle salads) to pho. Except they don’t really call it pho. Nope, they’re calling it “Vietnamese-Style Chicken Soup.” Gag me with an Asian soup spoon.


Everything on the menu has been neatly repackaged (read: dumbed down and hipster-ed up) for the Insta- generation. Rather than plain photos of sandwiches identified solely by their protein (beef, pork), guests will find “Grilled Steak” on the menu, along with trendy flowery descriptions like “sliced and char-grilled with honey caramel glaze” and “cucumber-cilantro aioli”; or the “Breakfast All Day,” a two egg omelet sandwich with “ground seasoned pork & sliced smoked ham, with ribbon-cut cucumber & cilantro; with honey-garlic aioli.”

There are also spring rolls, “Wok’d” rice and noodle bowls, pho as we’ve said, bun, a salad, a kind of Vietnamese eloté dressed with coconut milk, butter, and fish sauce, Vietnamese iced coffee, a ginger margarita, a passion fruit colada, and craft beers.


We should note that this is all a gripe over form — the food could taste perfectly amazing. Last month, we ventured to Yum Brand’s other new Americana, travel, and fusion-inspired venture, U.S. Taco Co., and were moderately impressed. But you have to admit that when the “authentic street food” aesthetic can be commoditized by the same brand who runs Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, it’s probably kind of sort of okay way, way overdone.

We’d rather take one of these places any day.

By Dominique Zamora

Dominique would be a foodie if she had money to pay for food. For now, she gets by just looking at food photography, which results in at least one more starving journalism student every time Instagram breaks down.

3 replies on “Taco Bell Parent Brand Opens Bougie Vietnamese Fast Food, Calls Pho ‘Chicken Soup’”

I don’t get it. Ya’ll swoooooon over Taco Bell’s biscuit breakfast thing, then sh*t all over YUM! Brands’ Vietnamese concept…?

I got news for you knuckleheads at FoodBeast: when Vietnamese (or any ethnic cuisine) makes its way into mainstream American culture (which I heartily urge everyone to consider a good thing) it WILL be dumbed down by corporate entities like Taco Bell.

That doesn’t mean that Banh Shop (or whatever it becomes in its next iteration) will replace “real” Vietnamese places. The dirty little Pho shops on Chicago’s Argyle Street will always have their place. It just means that, just as pizza the way it is preferred by 80% of American’s who order in is greatly different than what is considered pure, real pizza in Naples (Vera Pizza Napoletana). But both continue to exist.

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Yeah, they were swooning.
I agree, there’s equal food snobbery on FoodBeast and equal “they put a cookie on a pizza and its good”.
Don’t they have editorial meetings?

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