There are pluses and minuses to food truck ownership. The cost of entry is often lower than buying a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but a brick-and-mortar restaurant doesn’t get flat tires or need an engine replaced.
Food trucks can go where the people are, which is why you see so many lined up at outdoor festivals and concerts. But food trucks don’t have dining rooms to shelter customers (and employees) from the elements.
It’s a big step turning in a set of truck keys for a set of building keys, but we’ve seen plenty of success stories in recent years.
Off The Hook Seafood & More went from a truck to a pair of busy restaurants and have now restarted the truck as well. Big O’s Pork & Dreams opened their first non-truck location in Edmond earlier this year. And, famously, Big Truck Tacos thought their truck would be the main venue for tacos, but their 23rd Street location quickly became a go-to spot in the metro.
So I wasn’t too shocked when Kayla Galvez, owner of the popular Yum Yum Bites food truck, told me she was transitioning to her own restaurant in Del City.
Now open as Papi Banh Mi & Bistro, it’s not a carbon copy of the Yum Yum Bites truck, but it’s clear Kayla has transferred big chunks of her menu to the restaurant and used the added kitchen space to bring new items on board.
I took my kids with me to a soft opening lunch and found Papi Banh Mi’s blend of Vietnamese and American cuisines might be their new favorite thing.
Look, feeding kids bubble tea ($4) is never going to be a hard sell. It’s like a milkshake with chewy gum that you’re allowed to swallow. While I liked the honey dew best, my son and daughter agreed the sweet Thai tea was their favorite. They even took turns (shocking, I know) drinking from the enormous straw.
My daughter, a posh 45-year-old woman in the body of a five-year-old, ordered potato and leek soup ($2.99) and it was lovely and creamy and warm. Del City sees its fair share of blustery days and this is the kind of hearty soup that, well, I was going to say “sticks to your bones,” but that’s medically wildly inaccurate. It’s filling and it has lots of calories and carbs, which keeps your system working and provides heat and energy. It doesn’t actually interact with your bones hardly at all. And if it did, I don’t think it would stick to them.
The pork spring rolls (three for $6) also have no skeletal interactions, but they are very satisfying if you’re okay with just using your mouth and stomach. I’m used to sticky rice paper rolls with shrimp, but these grilled pork sausage beauties were super flavorful and had amazing texture. The sausage is firm, not too chewy, with lots of crunch from lettuce, carrots, cucumber and daikon radish and herbal notes from chives and mint. These might be the perfect snack.
The Philly steak sandwich ($8.99) was good, with a nice blend of veggies worked into the shaved steak and melted provolone on top. My only complaint was it needed a bit more salt to really reach the height of flavor I know it can achieve. Add a little hot sauce for some extra zip and you’ve got a winner.
My son got a mini cheeseburger ($4.99) and my daughter got chicken strips ($4.99) because I am just happy when they eat anything. Also, I had a feeling Papi Banh Mi would do a pretty good job on these dishes and I was right.
The burger was a perfect little slider with cheese melted firmly into the patty and a nice tender texture. The chicken strips were even better -- big pieces of chicken that were lightly breaded and fried to that wonderful pale golden color. Dipping sauces not necessary.
For dessert, Kayla brought out a plate of her homemade macarons ($4) and I think it’s safe to say, those are the only thing my kids were going to talk about for the next 48 hours. The colors were gorgeous, the flavors were spot on and the texture was lovely, with that initial crunch giving way to a slightly chewy, tacky sensation that makes macarons so addictive.
“Daddy, can I have another circle cookie?” my daughter asked me...endlessly. Let’s just say she was on her best behavior for the rest of the day.
I’ll give Papi Banh Mi & Bistro a larger review later on, but in the meantime, I think it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area.