The Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee sampled Bang Bang Banh Mi, a gluten-free Vietnamese food truck, on Monday evening.
DUSDAC is currently sampling food trucks to determine candidates to be added to the rotation next year. After sampling Bang Bang Banh Mi’s food, members of DUSDAC had generally positive remarks on the food and the benefits of potentially including the truck in next year’s rotation. Bang Bang Banh Mi would be the first gluten-free food truck to be added to merchants on points.
“As someone who is gluten intolerant, there is a lot of value in the peace of mind [of] knowing that it is not contaminated,” said DUSDAC member Betsy Mansfield, a sophomore.
DUSDAC member Billy Silk, a sophomore, added that the truck would fill a valuable and currently unoccupied niche in Duke Dining by providing gluten-free options and serving Vietnamese food—a cuisine not currently offered by eateries on campus, food trucks or merchants on points.
DUSDAC members also discussed how the truck provides vegetarian options, whereas other eateries on campus may advertise vegetarian options but are actually quite limited.
“I have a lot of vegetarian friends who complain about having limited options,” said Andrew Gaddis, chief proprietor and founder of Bang Bang Banh Mi. “We will always have at least a couple of different vegetarian options.”
DUSDAC members expressed concerns that students without dietary restrictions would not be attracted to the truck.
“They are the only truck pushing the envelope with vegetarian options,” said senior and co-chair of DUSDAC Chris Taylor.
DUSDAC was concerned, however, with the high price points of Bang Bang Banh Mi's food. Gaddis noted that bowls and sandwiches—with gluten-free bread—are about $9 to $10.
Gaddis spoke about the concept behind the truck and how he came to the idea.
“I was working at an Italian restaurant in Houston three and half years ago, and I discovered I had a gluten allergy,” he said.
He said that the idea to start a gluten-free food truck rose out of his own experience with the dietary restriction. He added that even for people who do not have the restriction, the food is healthy and appealing.
The truck started parking outside of Sam’s Quik Shop on Erwin Road on Friday evenings starting Jan. 18, and Gaddis said that they have been successful thus far.
“I have had Vietnamese customers who were very positive about the food and a couple who did not even realize the food was gluten-free,” Gaddis said.
He noted that he designed the kitchen to serve many people at a time quickly. The truck has been put on the list for the Durham Farmer’s Market, as well as the food truck rodeo.
“If we were to be on campus in August, we would work out the kinks,” Gaddis said.
DUSDAC will be sampling food trucks in the months leading up to their decision in March about which trucks will be on campus next year.
“Trucks are generally very eager to have us taste their food,” said Marissa Medine, senior and chair of external vendors for DUSDAC.
Continuing with the sampling, DUSDAC will try CJ’s Street Food, another food truck, at next week's meeting.