Wilmington is a popular tourist destination in North Carolina, with beaches and a bustling downtown vibe, located on the Cape Fear River. Boasting enjoyable weather and a food scene with many highly acclaimed options, plenty of vacationers end up growing such an attraction to this coastal city that they eventually choose to make it home. When brewery hopping through town, there’s a good chance of coming across a retro, colorful food truck with 80’s flair putting endless effort into their Asian fusion street food. Meet Chef Austin Belt of Banh Sai.
Belt’s menu staples are loaded fries, rice bowls, egg rolls, crispy Brussel sprouts, and enormous sandwiches dared to be finished in one sitting. However, an expansion of the current menu is soon to come, available at their first stationary restaurant anticipated to be open by 2024 near the Cargo District.
Belt is the chef/owner driven by wanting to “make people happy by food.” Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, he was exposed to all types of cuisines, his favorite being pad thai with peanut sauce. So, even at a young age he knew the importance of a good sauce!
A goal of his has been for “people to trust our flavors so they keep coming back to try something new, like our fun specials.” Wing Wednesdays are a weekly wonder at the truck. The sweet heat (“a great flavor profile to always start with, and the levels of each can change, but balance is always key”) on giant, high quality wings packs a crowd.
“I’ve been in the food industry since I was in high school,” says Belt, while his passion has only grown since. He graduated from Central Piedmont Culinary School in Charlotte, then worked at many established restaurants, gaining mentorship from multiple chefs. Belt hopes the “impression we leave on people is to have them already excited to come back to see us,” a goal which seems to already be accomplished as the permanent location is soon to open.
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