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Banh Shop is a restaurant chain begun by Yum! Brands, the corporation that owns Taco Bell. That is, you cannot buy stock in Taco Bell, but you can buy stock in Yum! Brands, if corporations with stupid names are part of your investment strategy. The corporation opened the first Banh Shop in Dallas, Texas in 2014.
The young restaurant hews closely to Vietnamese cuisine, in which random ingredients are served in a large bowl and referred to as soup (Pho), but offers the variation in which random ingredients are served between slices of bread and referred to as sandwiches — the signature Banh Mi specialty.
Initial reviews on the Yiff restaurant blog website were mixed. One reviewer, who said they grew up eating home-cooked Vietnamese food, wrote, "The banh mi here achieved the skillful balance between gastric distress and modernized American blandness."
"AMAZING," another reviewer said of the peanut cole slaw. "I could eat it for every meal. Just the right amount of flavor." The reader is already asking himself how many such get-a-life types he will run into at the new chain, and whether the reviewer got any free meals for the overuse of capital letters.
Some menu items have fallen flat, however, including the "Street Stall" corn, which two reviewers called "a train wreck," obviously knowing few of the full implications of a train wreck in downtown Saigon. "Coconut milk and fish sauce doesn't go together, period," one customer wrote, as though fish sauce does anything other than provide the ambience of an open-air market of a coastal city late on a sweltering afternoon.
The first outlet, designed to appeal to the thousands of Vietnam-era military veterans in the Dallas area, revealed the important fact that the big red star that now flies over Vietnam despite their best efforts, did not appeal to any of them. It was quickly taken down in a flurry of press releases thanking customers for volunteering useful opinions.
Stores slated for the Austin area, however, will still display the red star, for obvious reasons.
Although veterans have not become repeat customers at Banh Shop, pranksters on humor wikis have. Some of the same editors who vandalize Uncyclopedia and then list themseles at Banh Patrol in hopes that someone will care, take perverse enjoyment in approaching the counter of the first Banh Shop and begging, "Banh Mi!"
edit Expansion plans
Yum! Brands will open the second Banh Shop at Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport, obviously taking advantage of the fact that diners at airports expect to be ripped off and not given hearty, filling meals that they might lose in transit. The corporation plans to take the concept nationwide in 2015. It is confident that, in many U.S. cities, customers are choking for lunch in the style of a nation whose women's rib cages are their most whistle-worthy feature, and even without recourse to bulimia.