Ingredient-packed rice bowls offer customers a complete, convenient meal, deep flavor profiles and value all in one hearty, tasty package.
This article first appeared in the 1 September 2009 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).
R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. Visit the R&I website to find out more about the magazine or to search its recipe database.
By Kelly Smith Killian, Editor-in-Chief
Fiery Bottom BBQ Pork Rice Bowl (pictured above)
Calafia Cafe, Palo Alto, Calif. "Slow food served fast" is how Chef Charlie Ayers describes his concept, open since January. Pork is braised for 10 hours for this dish, which features roasted yams, baby spinach and a quail egg over brown rice. The barbecue sauce gets its heat from habaneros; its sweetness comes from cloves, cinnamon, allspice and honey.
Mayan Chicken Harvest Rice Bowl
Au Bon Pain, multiple locations. The Boston-based chain's popular rice bowls make up about 2% of sales. In this version, shredded chicken thighs are slow-cooked with tomatoes, stock, garlic, onion, Mexican oregano and chipotles and then ladled over rice. A tomato-cucumber salad served in the bowl with mesclun provides a crisp, cool contrast.
Catalan Food & Wine, Houston. Executive Chef Chris Shepherd's lunch special adds venison leg marinated with soy sauce, jalapeños and sesame oil to traditional Korean bibimbap ingredients: pickled vegetables, kimchee and egg (here, a duck egg). Cooking the mixture in a stone bowl gives the jasmine rice a caramelized texture and taste.
Mahi Mahi Bowl
Tokyo Joe's, multiple locations. The grilled wild mahi mahi may be covered in teriyaki sauce, but this bowl is distinctly tropical, with a salsa made of pineapple, mango, red pepper, red onion and lime juice. Diners choose brown or white rice; a drizzle of lemongrass sauce, a sprinkling of toasted macadamia nuts and a sprig of cilantro top off the dish.