Nope, this is not a joke. Yum! Brands (the "!" is seriously part of the name) has plans to open a banh mi shop in Dallas. The internet has been buzzing over what's reportedly to be called "Banh Shop," ever since EscapeHatchDallas wrote about it late last week.
If you're not familiar, Yum! Brands is the same company that has given us such culinary delights as Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. But since those three concepts are making America fat enough with cheap fast food, the company has been unleashing a flurry of new test concepts. They recently announced plans for an upscale taco chain called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom and opened a Chick-fil-A-esque restaurant called Super Chix in Arlington, Tex.
I'm sure you can see how this idea might turn out badly -- like, really badly. Even those of you who genuinely enjoy the Cheesy Gordita Crunch and Doritos Locos Tacos have to admit that Taco Bell food represents Mexican cuisine about as well as french fries represent French fare.
In other words, not at all.
It's a shame really, that Yum! Brands will probably bastardize a classic Vietnamese dish because the truth is it really doesn't take that much to make really good banh mi. What you need is well-seasoned pork (or other meats), fresh (preferably pickled) veggies, and good bread. Unfortunately what we'll probably get from Banh Shop is some horrible processed meat product, previously frozen vegetables, and bread with 25 or more ingredients that really shouldn't be in there. Don't worry, though, it will all be smothered in some crazy Asian-inspired sauce so you won't actually be able to taste anything.
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And that would be bad enough, but what's worse is that we'll probably also get a whole menu of overpriced "banh mi" that in no way resemble actual banh mi. They'll probably give you the option to add American cheese and hummus (because it's healthy, duh!) and get it on whole wheat, gluten-free bread.
So before Yum! Brands shows up with $10 Vietnamese sandwiches loaded with Sriracha and truffle oil, let's all agree to go enjoy the real thing -- which will set you back a mere $2.50 at Pho Thanh right here in Phoenix.