Chipotle taught the nation how to say chipotle (or was that Jack in the Box?)–is bánh mì next to become a household term?
Maybe. ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, the new build-a-bánh mì (or bowl) casual restaurant concept by the Denver-based burrito chain, opened its doors in Washington, DC this month, and so far, the reviews have been mostly positive.
Writes Abbey Becker of Serious Eats:
The meatball banh mi was the best dish hands-down. Juicy, flavorful, incredibly crispy on the outside like an excellent falafel, with fresh herbs visibly mixed into the meat, the protein alone made this sandwich worth ordering. A spicy Sriracha mayo with a bit of lime juice gave the meatballs a spicy kick. The crunchiness of the green papaya slaw and nuttiness of the crushed peanuts topped with a pretty though unnecessary herb garnish, all tucked into a soft roll made for a perfectly balanced meal. While the bread seemed to overpower the sandwich when paired with other proteins, it seemed just right here.
The food isn't necessarily “authentic” (a thick, chewy banh mi roll made us wish we were at the Eden Center instead) but nicely-charred chicken, bright pickled papaya, and light, zesty sauces are far better than some of muted Asian offerings nearby.
While we doubt we'd rush out the door for an $8 bánh mì (um, hello, OC), the concept sounds intriguing.
But we'll probably have to wait to check it out.
“Right now, there are no plans for ShopHouse beyond the first restaurant in Washington, DC,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told us by email. “Our plans are to get the first restaurant up and running perfectly, and then we'll consider what we might want to do next.”