Shed your last tear for Banh Shop, the bright Vietnamese spot on SMU Boulevard which closed in January, because its replacement is coming at you. Called Sumo Shack, it's the fun, kitschy new Japanese fast-food restaurant from the team behind Wabi House on Greenville Avenue and Sapa House downtown.
Aiming to open in May, Sumo Shack will serve bao, Japanese hot dogs, and ramen — an ultra-trendy combination cobbled from bao restaurants in New York and Houston, crossed with new-wave hot dog spots such as Umai in California.
"The main dish is bao," says manager Long Nguyen. "It's the soft white steamed bun, but we're going to stuff ours with a lot of different fillings, similar to Baohaus in New York or Fat Bao in Houston."
Sumo Shack's menu items include the "Angry Bird" bao filled with fried chicken, American cheese, and a pickle. There'll be a pork belly bao, a crispy fish bao, and a burger bao, with the bao substituting for the hamburger bun. There'll be a Philly cheesesteak bao and a smoked brisket. There'll be two options for vegetarians: shiitake mushrooms, and one with tofu that they've marinated, then deep fried, served with pickles and peanut sauce.
They'll also do a dessert spin on bao, where they deep fry it and stuff it with ice cream.
And then there is the hot dog element.
"It's Japanese hot dogs, so it look like a hot dog, but we use a different roll, it's a potato bun so it's soft," he says. "We use different ingredients, too. It looks like a hot dog, but it tastes like Japanese food."
There'll be all sorts of toppings from queso to pickled nori to jalapeños, which can also be ordered over French fries in a dish called Sumo fries. There'll also be a Japanese corn dog.
Last but not least: ramen, although it won't be a main thing, just a couple of quick varieties. And unlike Wabi House, which has a strict rule against ramen to go, Sumo Shack will allow it.
There'll be a full bar with a focus on Japanese drinks including now-trendy Japanese whisky, a Japanese-style margarita, and and a "sake-rita" make with sake. "We're also going to use sake to make a frozen drink, which is rare," he says.
Everything will be cheap, priced at $4 or 5, sort of like an Asian taco place, so you can order, say three different bao options and get out for $11.
"We're combining everything that's hot," Nguyen says.