Exploring the Best of California Cuisine: Chef Casey Felton’s Banh Oui
By: Jennifer Coco
Nestled in the heart of Hollywood, the California eclectic restaurant Banh Oui has quickly become a culinary sensation thanks to the adept vision of chef Casey Felton. Influenced by her upbringing in Los Angeles and her experience in some of the city’s most popular restaurants, Chef Casey brings a unique perspective to her craft infusing her menu with a curated blend of flavors and seasonal rotating dishes.
Growing up in the melting pot of Los Angeles, Chef Casey was exposed to a diverse food scene from a young age and her multicultural influences are apparent on Banh Oui’s menu. Refusing to limit herself strictly to Vietnamese cuisine, Chef Casey’s diverse menu offers everything from burgers, burritos, and sticky wings to, of course, banh mi. This diversity is by no means indicative of a lack of vision; in fact, it was quite intentional. She explains:
“I have a very clear connection to growing up in Los Angeles. So, when people ask me about identity or ask me about my menu, I say you see my identity in my menu. You see it because I grew up here in Los Angeles eating Lebanese food, Persian food, Mexican food, Southeast Asian food so that’s what you’re going to taste.”
Casey also notes that because Banh Oui is located in the center of Hollywood, she has a lot of regulars and wants to offer them variety. With her connection to L.A. and respect for the diner at the forefront of her mind, Casey has created an exciting and deeply personal culinary experience for her customers.
Before opening Banh Oui, Chef Casey worked in several acclaimed restaurants and gained a unique education that she has brought into her current establishment. For instance, while working at Beverly Hills’ Red Medicine, a now shuttered establishment that utilized molecular gastronomy in many of its dishes, Casey learned the importance of a visually striking plate-up. Perhaps even more significant to her career, while traveling and cooking in restaurants throughout Sydney, Casey encountered dishes that would greatly inspire the flavor profiles present at Banh Oui. She explains, “I love that in Vietnamese, Thai and Latin food, you get in one bite the full circle of flavors. You get acid, salt, sweet, spicy, fresh. So that became my philosophy in tackling any dish I create.”
One of Chef Casey’s defining characteristics is her commitment to respecting seasonal ingredients in her dishes. Throughout the year many customers request her seasonally available BLT. Despite the immense popularity of the dish, Casey refuses to offer it year-round saying:
“People will call and try to order a BLT before or after summer and I tell them it’s only available when the summer tomatoes taste like candy because that’s when they really emphasize the salty smoky flavor of the bacon and the KEWPIE mayonnaise.”
In addition to prioritizing peak seasonal ingredients, Chef Casey prides herself on making almost everything in-house, but there is one ingredient she swears by for her sandwiches and burgers—KEWPIE mayonnaise. That’s because, as she puts it simply, “it just makes it taste better.” The Japanese mayonnaise adds a unique creaminess and umami flavor to her food and was a given for Casey as her mother, who was born in Japan, always used KEWPIE on her childhood sandwiches. Casey’s use of KEWPIE is just one more example of her commitment to serving the best possible food to her customers.
Chef Casey Felton’s passion for food, combined with her Los Angeles upbringing and diverse culinary experiences have culminated in the success of Banh Oui and awarded her a semi-finalist James Beard nomination in 2022 for their Emerging Chef category. With a seasonal specials menu that rotates based on what she and her team are inspired by, we can’t wait to see what she is plating up next.