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Grain Bowls More fast-casual concepts now offer grain bowls as a heartier, more balanced — yet still nutritious — alternative to straight salads that customers can order with or without meat. At Mixt, a nine-unit chain with locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, customers can design their own grain bowl by starting with bases such as organic farro or quinoa mixed with lettuces, kale or cabbage. Next, they choose from more than 80 toppings, including additional raw or cooked vegetables, toasted nuts, legumes, eggs, meat proteins and house-made dressing, according to Leslie Silverglide, co-founder. The chain already served quinoa and farro as salad toppers, so the switch to using them more prominently as a base required no changes to equipment, design or operations. The same custom-designed bowls used for the salads also work for the grain bowls. Signature bowl items include the Zesty bowl, with quinoa, kale, grilled chicken, feta, oranges, avocado, cab- bage, pickled red onion and fresh herbs tossed in a house-made lemon herb vinaigrette as well as the heartier, more filling Sombrero bowl, with quinoa, cabbage, Mexican chorizo, sharp cheddar, black beans, cherry tomatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, scallions and cilantro jalapeño vinaigrette. Just Salad, a fast-casual chain with 30 units throughout New York, Chicago, Hong Kong and Dubai, has also expanded its menu beyond greens to include grains in bowl form. The Seoul Bowl adds Asian flavors with a mix of organic quinoa and farro, shrimp, roasted broccoli, carrots, pickled red onions, cucumber, crunchy onions and a dusting of furikake, a Japanese seaweed- umami seasoning, all tossed in a miso ginger vinaigrette with a spicy, sriracha drizzle. Egg Bowls Swapping the bread for the bowl, some chains offering breakfast use eggs as the base, providing a starch-free alternative. Last October, Freshii introduced a new line of breakfast bowls, includ- ing a kale-based, green smoothie bowl and two egg-based variations. The Mexican-inspired Huevos bowl uses scrambled eggs as the base for kale, avocado, aged cheddar cheese, black beans and house- made salsa fresca and fiery barbecue sauce. The Green Eggs and Kale Bowl combines scrambled eggs with kale, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and pesto sauce. Poke Bowls Poke, the popular Hawaiian staple, has found its way into mainstream America in bowl form. Amidst a rash of new, fast-casual poke concepts popping up from coast to coast, rice and noodles have become the base for the chunks of raw tuna mixed with soy sauce and scallions that once stood alone. At FireFin Poke Shop in Chicago, customers can choose from eight Hawaiian-inspired poke bowls. A make-your-own poke bowl option includes a choice of purple rice, greens or gluten- free noodles as the base topped with Ahi tuna, salmon, snow crab, chicken or tofu. Add to that various sauces, vegetables and garnishes like pick- led ginger, seaweed and toasted coconut flakes. The Classic Hawaiian bowl includes purple rice topped with ahi tuna, ono sauce, sweet onions and cucumber. 20 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2017 trends Source: Datassential BETTER BOWL BASES As bowl trends soar, so do the variety of ingredients that serve as a base. Ancient grains like quinoa and farro for salad alternatives Pulses, legumes and beans for vegetarian-friendly bowls Acai, banana and other superfoods for nutrient-dense smoothie bowls Eggs and/or potatoes for break- fast bowls Lettuces, kale, spinach and mixed greens for salad bowls Raw tuna and other fish for poke bowls Proteins and veggies for heartier lunch and dinner bowls BOWLS BY THE NUMBERS increase in bowls making an appearance on menus over the past four years. of consumers surveyed are aware of bowls. of consumers are likely to try bowls at a restaurant. of U.S. restaurant menus feature the term bowls. of consumers surveyed think bowls are innova- tive and adventurous. of those surveyed are likely to try bowls from retail outlets. 17% 47% 62% 16% 41% 56% FireFin Poke Shop Mixt