The St. Louis area has a new spot for bánh mì.
Jimmy Trinh, chef-owner of The Banh Mi Shop, hosted a "shock and awe" opening for the restaurant on Feb. 25, simply taking the paper off the door and welcoming the community in. While there are great places to get bánh mì around town, he says that in Vietnam, the options for bánh mì are plentiful, so he wanted to expand the range of offerings available to St. Louis.
The Delmar Loop location attracted Trinh for a few reasons: the culture of the area, the students from nearby Washington University in St. Louis and the all-day foot traffic. The news of the shop spread in the area just by word-of-mouth; he says that the first few days, people would come in just to check out what was there, but then others started showing up after the restaurant was suggested by someone else.
"That was like the best feeling in the world," Trinh says. "The word of mouth is so powerful out there."
Bánh mì typically features some sort of protein served on a baguette with pickled daikon radish and carrot, cilantro and cucumbers. At The Banh Mi Shop, you can get options like the Saigon Classic – made with traditional cold cuts that you can find all over the streets of Vietnam – plus some other creative takes. Trinh also serves up a curry chicken, lemongrass chicken and tofu, grilled beef, grilled pork and barbecue pork.
For those who want the same flavors without the bread, The Banh Mi Shop also offers noodle bowls with much of the same ingredients as the sandwiches, as well as spring rolls in flavors like lemongrass tofu and grilled beef.
Trinh has been a chef for years, but this is his first time opening a restaurant on his own. But with the help of some friends around town, he says he's been guided in the right direction.
"It was a good little challenge, and a good little learning experience," he says.
The Banh Mi Shop, 567 Melville Ave., Delmar Loop, University City, Missouri, instagram.com/thebanhmishopstl