Food & Drink


Park City’s Banchan, restaurant & bar, bills itself as an “American Izakaya.” With a causual and pub-like atmosphere serving Asian-American fusion fare.


One of the more interesting restaurants and menus I’ve encountered this year is a Park City restaurant and bar called Banchan, which bills itself as an “American Izakaya” eatery. Izakaya is a Japanese term for an informal bar that serves drinks and snacks, similar to a tapas bar in Spain. The atmosphere is usually casual and pub-like. 

That pretty much describes Banchan, located at the very bottom of Main Street in the Summit Watch Plaza where Vinto used to be, except that the menu is much more robust than at typical izakayas. In fact, the eclectic menu ranges from kimchi miso soup and seki sunomono salad, to bao buns, gyoza, smoked ribs, and woodfired pizzas. There is something for everybody on the Banchan menu. 

Banchan is the creation of Chef/Owner Matt Fischer and his team. A very talented chef known especially for his sushi skills, the Park City restaurants Matt worked in include Shabu, Sushi Maru, Blind Dog Restaurant & Raw Bar, Kampai, and Yuki Yama. He explained to me that banchan is a word used to refer to Korean side dishes such as kimchi, pickled onions, sanjeok and such. Thus, the emphasis at Banchan Izakaya is on tapas-style plates to share. He also wanted to create a restaurant that would be inviting and priced so locals could afford to eat there. He’s succeeded. Banchan has a strong local following and there are very few menu items priced above $20, which is unheard of on Main Street in Park City. And, Banchan hosts Locals Night with 15% discounts every Monday throughout summer, plus extended hours on Sundays during the Park Silly Market. 

Feeling that there were plenty of sushi spots in and around Park City, with Banchan Matt decided to do something a little different and not focus on sushi. Instead, his menu is composed largely of small bites dishes that are shareable, a half-dozen soups and salads, woodfired pizzas, and “main plates.” Matt is an avid winter sports enthusiast and the decor at Banchan reflects his passion for skiing and boarding, especially a large mural that is the dominant feature of the main dining room, painted by local artist AD Allegretti, who goes simply by the name AD. Matt has said that he “believes the après culture of Park City’s mountains closely mirrors the after work and street food model of the Japanese Izakaya and this is reflected in our menu and atmosphere.”

Banchan is a restaurant with serious food but that doesn’t take itself too seriously. To wit, monkeys are a big theme at the casual eatery. Look up and you’ll find them hanging from the ceiling. There’s even a Monkey Bowl ($16) on the menu with steam rice, zucchini, carrot, mushroom, furikake, and a choice of Japanese curry or bulgogi sauce, with chicken, shrimp, salmon, pork belly, beef, or crispy tofu. 

Yakitori Trio – Chicken, Shrimp & Scallop

Shareable tapas-style menu items include Japanese Gyoza ($16), Snow Crab Rangoon ($18), Bulgogi Beef Egg Rolls ($16), and a Yakitori Trio ($15), which was excellent. It’s a threesome of traditional izakaya fire-grilled skewers and diners can select from chicken, smoked pork belly, bulgogi beef, shrimp, salmon, Wagyu beef, vegetables, or Hokkaido scallop. Hokkaido sea scallops are truly second to none – so meaty and delicious, yet delicate and sweet, and cooked to perfection at Banchan. 

North Shore Ceviche

Those scrumptious Hokkaido scallops also pop up in Matt Fischer’s North Shore Ceviche ($16), which is a bowl of fresh shrimp, fish and scallops with heirloom tomato, onion and avocado, served with homemade white corn chips. 

Carnitas Bao Buns

I hope to return soon to Banchan to try the Korean Fried Chicken (KFC!), which I’ve heard is delicious and gluten free, made with potato flour for the crust. I loved the China-meets-Mexico Carnitas Bao Buns ($18). The Chinese steamed bao buns are filled, taco-style, with slow-smoked pork shoulder and served with Banchan BBQ sauce, house pickled shallots, and microgreens. 

I mentioned that Matt Fischer has somewhat put sushi behind him. But that doesn’t mean he’s averse to serving raw (or nearly raw) fish and seafood, such as the aforementioned ceviche. There is also Tuna Poke Salad ($20) on the menu as well as the outstanding Spicy Tuna Tartare ($20) that my wife and I enjoyed. It features sushi-grade minced ahi tuna with red chili and sesame oil, topped with green onion, tobiko, wasabi aioli, and a raw quail egg.  

While Banchan is a family-friendly restaurant, one side of the large space is a 21 and over bar area, where all of the menu items are available and customers can enjoy sports and such on one of the flatscreen TVs. Banchan also features a full range of craft cocktails, beer, wine, sake, and non-alcoholic drinks options. The Shogun Cider cocktail sounds intriguing: Kraken dark rum with Asian ginger and hot mulled apple cider. I can totally imagine how good that would be after a powder day in winter. 

Margherita Pizza

Matt Fischer didn’t want the wood-fired pizza oven left from Vinto to go to waste, so he offers an eclectic assortment of pizzas, running the gamut from a more-or-less traditional Margherita, to a smoky pulled pork pizza with house pickled shallots, shishito peppers, and Banchan BBQ sauce. There’s also a Korean Flag pizza with bulgogi beef, house-made kimchi, garlic and green onion. Additional toppings include shrimp, kimchi, snow crab, scallops, Waygu beef, fried chicken, pork belly, and much more. I particularly liked the Asian twist of garnishing the Margherita pizza with Thai basil. 

Arasuka Black Cod

My wife absolutely loved her entree of Arasuka Black Cod ($24). It was Alaskan sablefish cooked to melt-in-the-mouth perfection with a sake-miso marinade and teriyaki sauce, served with pineapple fried rice, blistered shishito peppers, and fresh microgreens. 


Meanwhile, I’m nuts for stir-fried noodles so I opted for the Yakisoba Noodles ($16) for my main dish. Fresh Japanese soba was stir-fried with a generous amount of beef chunks (a $5 add-on), onion, carrot, edamame, garlic, ginger, minced scallion, and yakisoba sauce. The portion was plentiful and I was able to enjoy yummy yakisoba leftovers for lunch the following day. 

There is a lot to love about Banchan American Izakaya, including the uber friendly and attentive service. But Chef/Owner Matt Fischer’s laidback cuisine is the main draw and his passion for food and the cooking skills to go with it make Banchan a real winner and a great addition to Park City’s thriving dining scene. 

Photos by Ted Scheffler

Culinary quote of the week: “Fruitcake is the only food durable enough to become a family heirloom.” – Russell Baker  

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