Have a Bowl

Eating food out of a bowl is hardly new, but it’s a restaurant trend that’s gripping the nation, if not the world. Anything served in a wrap is being refashioned into a bowl, while salads are being relabeled as bowls.

The BBC reports that science could explain why bowl food tastes better, according to Charles Spence, an expert in the psychology of taste at the University of Oxford. Spence sees several sensory factors at work: Holding a bowl while eating adds weight and heat to the experience and increases satisfaction, and rimless bowls give the perception of greater volume.

All the buzz about bowls is great news considering how they work with every kind of cuisine, especially Asian and Latin mash-ups, which continue to infiltrate more menus, according to Chef Gerry Ludwig. The nationally recognized food writer, speaker and trend tracker oversees trend-based culinary solutions for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Gordon Food Service.

“I see a lot of layering of flavored rice, protein, fresh greens, condiments, and often everything is topped with a sunny side up egg,” notes Ludwig, who describes an Asian paella with yellow rice, shrimp, Kobe marinated beef, edamame and cilantro as an example of a great bowl meal.

Panera Bread made news with its protein-rich bowls, like the Lentil Quinoa Bowl topped with tomato sofrito, fresh kale, a hard-boiled cage-free egg, lemon wheel and broth. For more traditional bowls, macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes can form the base for a meal of pulled pork and greens as a moveable barbecue feast.

Even breakfast is getting the bowl treatment, with chains piling potato tots, eggs, meat and cheese in portable formats. Independent restaurants take a more elaborate approach to breakfast bowls, such as those served at Egg Shop in New York City, where the Spandex bowl starts with miso quinoa and adds a poached egg, pickled carrot, greens and gluten-free tamari scrambler.

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • Rotisserie chicken repurposed as a bowl meal with pasta or rice
  • Comfort in a bowl with different flavors of mashed potato bases
  • Quinoa and lentil mixes for gluten-free bowls
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds