Full Disclosure: I paid for this meal with my own money and am not being compensated for this post. As always, the opinions are completely my own.
I am a big fan of the create your own stir-fry type restaurants. I love knowing exactly what is in my dish, and I’m just a fan of stir fry in general. One of the first of these type of restaurants that I ever ate at was Big Bowl. There isn’t one in Madison, so I often go when I am in Chicago, as I did a couple of weeks ago.
The spread of choices to add to your stir fry isn’t as large at Big Bowl as it is at other places, but for good reason. Big Bowl is very focused on local and sustainable foods, so the spread isn’t as large, but in general they are better ingredients. Even though there wasn’t quite the large spread that others have, I still found plenty of things to put in my dish.
One of the other things that is different about this restaurant compared to others is that you do not pick out your own protein. Well, I mean, you get to choose your protein, but you don’t physically pick it out like you do a lot of other places. There is good and bad to this, in my opinion. Bad: there isn’t quite the variety of proteins, and you can’t put a bunch of different proteins in your dish. Good: There isn’t raw meat sitting out. Personally, I think the good outweighs the bad. I do eat meat, but seeing raw meat out isn’t exactly something that I love seeing, and I would imagine that if I was a non-meat eater I would be even happier that the meat wasn’t on display next to the veggies.
In my stir fry I had pea pods, bean sprouts, zucchini, yellow squash, pineapple, and tofu with rice and sweet and sour lemon sauce. It was really good! The sauce was a bit too much on the sour sauce for me, but it still all tasted really fresh, light, and delicious.
Taste: A, I love that you can customize your dish, and that everything is so fresh and sustainable.
Cost: A-, These type of places always seem a little bit overpriced for me since I tend to not load up on all the toppings, but it wasn’t bad.
Would I go there again? Yes, definitely. It is always is a nice change of pace when traveling to get a fresh tasting meal that isn’t super fancy or expensive.