To tap into Millennials and other target consumers, upscale craft-beer bar The Brass Tap took a gamble on the growing popularity of the banh mi, exploring the bright, bold flavors and contrasting textures of this Vietnamese street food, looking to increase its veg-centric choices and open up its range of menu items. “We started off with an authentic vegetable banh mi baguette ‘street food’ sandwich,” says David Groll, Director of Menu Development/Corporate Executive Chef. The sandwich build fills a French baguette with mayonnaise, red and yellow sweet bell peppers, cilantro, radish, cucumbers, jalapeño, carrots, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and an add-on of either grilled chicken or pulled pork.
The flavor profile of the vegetables promised deeper menu potential. “This proved so popular, we expanded the use of the banh mi vegetables to garnish our four varieties of Power Bowls, as a topping on pizza, in house salads and even in a banh mi slaw,” he says. In test, the concept has rolled out the Banh Mi Baguette Vegetable Sandwich, Banh Mi Wrap and the Banh Mi Power Bowl, which sees quinoa topped with tomatoes, red onion, the Vietnamese vegetable mixture and a red wine vinegar aïoli made in-house. “The pressure of adding all these fresh produce SKUs and back-of-house labor was substantial, but we pushed forward and are in the test stage, evaluating guest and operator responses.” So far, so good, he reports.