Local couple brings taste of Southeast Asia to area with new restaurant

Local couple James and Keena Lam are excited to bring a taste of Southeast Asia to the Sandhills with their latest and greatest restaurant Banh Sen, an eatery specializing in Asian noodles and street food in downtown Southern Pines.

“Food Network, eat your heart out!” James teased in a social media post promoting Banh Sen. He later explained that inspiration for Banh Sen struck while he and Keena watched Food Network and longed to have a similar venue in Moore County. With plenty of experience serving the Sandhills from The Block — the family’s first co-owned restaurant not even a block away — James and Keena realized they could be the ones to bring this multicultural experience to Southern Pines.

The menu will mainly comprise the most popular noodle dishes from Southeast Asia, along with Asian street food, traditional meals, and a rotating selection of specials and fan favorites. Dine-in and carryout options will be available, complete with a full dining room, lounge, and outdoor patio seating.

“We’ll be serving good, traditional, authentic food,” James stressed. “We don’t really have anything like this in the area, and we’ve been missing this type of food. Our families come from all walks of life, from all over, from east coast to west coast, so we’re excited to bring that here.”

James and Keena hope that Banh Sen will prove to be a “one-stop-shop” for Southeast Asian enthusiasts of the Sandhills. Countries represented on the menu will include Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and more. In addition, the couple plans to run specials that include dishes from other Asian countries, allowing for a broad, varying menu spanning across the continent at any given time. They will additionally be serving a select menu of beer and wine, as well.

When asked what she recommends future diners try, Keena just laughed. “Everything!” she said. “We hope they like it all and want to come back for more. There’s so much variety.” However, she conceded that she predicts the homemade pho will be a big hit and top seller.

For a local touch, dishes prepared at Banh Sen will be made using fresh herbs and spices grown locally in the Sandhills and fresh, organic vegetables grown in Moore County gardens whenever available.

With renovations to the building moving along on schedule, James and Keena predict Banh Sen will be ready to open its doors to Moore County diners by mid-March. They are happy with the progress made thus far and are eager to share their new eatery with foodies of Moore County. “Get your taste buds ready,” James encouraged.

The new restaurant is only a few doors up from James and Keena’s other establishment, The Block, and is conveniently located on W. Pennsylvania Avenue, directly across the street from Southern Pines Brewing Company. Street parking will be available, and additional parking is in a lot behind the building.

Banh Sen will be open from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., reopen from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and stay open an additional 30 minutes until 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is located at 210 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Southern Pines.

Photo: Owners of Banh Sen, James and Keena Lam, stand outside of the building they are renovating for their new eatery specializing in Asian noodles and street food. 

~Article and photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Abegail Murphy.

UPDATE: Banh Sen announced on its Facebook page on May 13 that it’s now open.

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