In celebration of the Bowl that’s going down in the Bay Area this weekend, let’s dish about bowls — not plates — of oodles of noodles and other well-rounded meals. These 7 spots will bowl you over with one-bowl dishes highlighting warm ramen noodles, chilled spicy noodles, rice, and more. And, if your favorite team didn’t make it to the big game, consider these bowls to be warm culinary consolation hugs, too.
The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Grand Rapids, Michigan
A cold-weather hotspot in The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, eight of the 10 appetizers on the menu are served in bowls, as well as all of the pasta dishes and most of the sides. “I personally love to serve dishes in bowls,” says chef Austin Gresham. “If I build a dish in the center of the bowl, the guest is forced to draw the food from the center of the bowl against the wall of the dish. That forces them to enjoy the dish exactly how I want them to. Much better than a ‘decomposed’ plating strategy, where parts of the dish are spread out and guests are able to enjoy components of dishes separately. This could potentially take away from the whole experience of a dish, like a bite of steak without the sauce.” Noodle dishes include Chicken lo Mein — egg noodles, bean sprouts, bok choy, oyster sauce and soy. And there’s Pad Thai on the menu, too — scallops, shrimp, scallions, mint, and peanut sauce. Make a reservation at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck.
Bubu-Lowry, Denver, Colorado
The Denver Broncos are going to the Super Bowl! You’re not! But … you can to go Bubu-Lowry, where the Chicken Thigh Ramen Bowl with Swiss chard, edamame, pickled fennel, peppers, ginger, and chicken broth is a crowd pleaser. Feeling creative at half time? You can opt to make your own bubu bowl creations. A win-win, for sure. Make a reservation at Bubu-Lowry.
Momofuku CCDC, Washington, D.C.
The mother of all bowls, David Chang’s Momofuku gives a noodle nod to D.C. with its first U.S. capital location in City Center. There are rice and noodle bowls aplenty to cheer for including Momofuku Beef Noodle Soup, which features brisket, baby bok choy, and black pepper. Spice it up with the Chilled Spicy Noodles with Szechuan sausage, spinach, and candied cashews. Or tackle the Ginger Scallion Noodles, rich with pickled shiitake, cucumber, cabbage. Make a reservation at Momofuku CCDC.
Il Palio, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Chef Teddy Diggs will serve his pasta “super bowls” as a nod to football’s biggest day. He’s teamed his authentic Italian recipes with playful ingredients to produce winning dishes, such as duck egg carbonara and hay-smoked potato gnocchi infused with wood smoke (the smoky flavors of the grill are infused into the pasta). Andiamo! Make a reservation at Il Palio.
Six One Six, Grand Rapids, Michigan
“In our restaurant, we use bowls for a variety of reasons, one being our commitment to a lighter, more healthful style of cooking,” says chef Chris Madsen at the helm of Six One Six in the JW Marriott hotel here. “The bowl allows us to focus on lighter, broth- style sauces.” Current super-duper bowl contenders include the Pork Belly Ramen, the Norwegian Fjord Trout Poke (fjord trout, soba noodle, pork belly, local mushrooms, scallions, and ramen broth), and the Seared Mahi Mahi with blood orange sauce, Napa cabbage, sweet peppers, and winter citrus. Make a reservation at Six One Six.
M Street Kitchen, Santa Monica, California
Bowls are big at M Street. The Bento Bowl encircles wood-grilled salmon with a teriyaki glaze, Japanese buckwheat and red quinoa, steamed baby bok choy, heirloom carrots, and sesame seeds. Or, say aloha to the Hawaiian Tuna Poke Bowl with ginger soy, avocado, brown rice, cilantro, jicama, and tomato. Make a reservation at M Street Kitchen.
Straits Restaurant-Santana Row, San Jose, California
Straits not only serves up super bowls, but it is a fun slurp spot to watch the game — with live music, projection screens, and a viewing party. Recommended bowls include the Pad Thai — veggie, chicken, shrimp, or lobster, with rice noodles, cabbage, lime, tofu, peanuts, fried egg, and vegetables. The Veggie Garlic Noodle — wok-fired noodles with Thai basil and egg noodles, and topped with black pepper, Roma tomatoes, shiitake, scallions, and shallots is also a win. And tuck into the Coconut Fried Rice spicy fried coconut rice served with prawns, cabbage, peas. and carrots — served in – you guessed it — a bowl. Make a reservation at Straits Restaurant-Santa Row.
Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.
Photo credit: Gabriele Stabile (Momofuku CCDC).